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.
Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”
Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”
Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.