Angel Hernandez, widely considered to be one of Major League Baseball’s worst umpires, had home plate duties in last night’s Giants-Athletics game. And he was pretty much Angel Hernandez.
Based on the tweets, comments and blog posts of folks who watched the game, Hernandez had his typically inconsistent and wide-to-the-right-side strike zone, causing pitchers and hitters from both teams to shake their heads in frustration. Then Hernandez went to his signature move, turning a merely poorly-umped game into a game with an umpire-player confrontation.
Hernandez called an extremely questionable balk on Jean Machi in the eighth inning. Machi was upset and started yelling at Hernandez. You can watch the overall argument here. One thing you can’t see in that video — but which was relayed by several second accounts such as this one — is that catcher Buster Posey attempted to get between them and calm the situation, only to have Hernandez yell, “Don’t push me” at Posey, as if Posey were actually trying to escalate, rather than defuse the situation. Bruce Bochy argued for a long time, using a lot of colorful language, but did not get tossed. Which, oftentimes, is the sign of an umpire who actually realized he messed up and is letting someone blow off steam.
After the game, Giants announcer Duane Kuiper was unusually frank but 100% honest in his assessment of Hernandez, saying “Angel Hernandez is not a good umpire and, in my opinion, he does not belong in the big leagues. And I think Major League Baseball knows this, they just don’t know how to get rid of him.”
He’s correct about that. Perhaps if more people closer to the game such as broadcasters and influential folks in the media were more willing to say this as frankly as Kuiper did, Major League Baseball would do something about it.
Fans, and even some writers, tend to jump on umpires when they make bad calls, but rarely if ever point out when they make good calls on tough plays. Angel Hernandez is one of those umpires who gets a lot of flack — and I may suggest even deservedly so — but in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, he made a great call on a very tough play during Thursday afternoon’s game between the Phillies and Marlins.
With a runner on first base and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Phillies leading 2-1, first baseman Brock Stassi laced an Edison Volquez pitch down the first base line. Michael Saunders, who was on first base, came around third base and attempted to score. The relay throw from second baseman Dee Gordon beat Saunders, but Saunders slid expertly to the back of home plate, avoiding the tag from catcher J.T. Realmuto just long enough to slip his hand in and touch the plate. Hernandez ruled Stassi safe with no hesitation because he was in a great position to get a look at the play. In real time, it was a bang-bang play. The Marlins didn’t challenge the call.
The MLB.com video doesn’t have the best angle, but still shows what a close call it was in real time. This .gif from Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal provides the best angle:
The Mets and Braves are playing today and it’s not a great day for the Mets in the injury department.
First they scratched Noah Syndergaard with a “tired arm.” Now they’ve lost Yoenis Cespedes, who pulled up limping at second base following a double in the bottom of the fourth:
The team has announced that he has pulled his left hamstring.
Cespedes, of course, missed three games over the weekend due to hamstring issues. That was merely tightness, however, and following an off day and a rainout, Cespedes played last night without incident. But it now looks as though he’s going to miss some serious time.