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CC Sabathia on Ángel Hernández: ‘He shouldn’t be anywhere near these playoff games’

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Yankees starter CC Sabathia and umpire Ángel Hernández don’t get along very well. In late April, Sabathia had a frustrating start in which he barked at Hernández, “Don’t talk to me. Call f–king strikes!”

As fate would have it, Hernández was behind the plate calling balls and strikes for Sabathia’s ALDS Game 4 start against the Red Sox on Tuesday night. If the Yankees lost, they would be eliminated from the postseason and the Red Sox would move on to the ALCS to face the Astros.

In Hernández’s defense, his ball- and strike-calling was decent and didn’t impact Sabathia’s lack of success in Game 4. Of course there were a few debatable calls but there are always a few no matter who the umpire is, and none came in high-leverage situations. Sabathia served up a three-spot in the third inning before departing. Overall, he gave up the three runs on five hits and two walks with one strikeout on 59 pitches.

After the game, Sabathia went off on Hernández. Per Newsday’s Tim Healey, Sabathia said, “He’s absolutely terrible. He was terrible behind the plate today. He was terrible at first base. It’s amazing how he’s getting jobs umpiring in these playoff games.”

More from Sabathia, per Healey:

Paired with his subpar showing as a first base umpire in Game 3, it hasn’t been a great couple of days for Hernández. He has long been one of baseball’s least popular umpires. Even in just in the last two years, we have covered Sabathia, Anthony Rizzo, and Ian Kinsler taking issue with Hernández. Former players Chipper Jones and Paul LoDuca were among the players tweeting along with Game 3 last night and using the opportunity to criticize Hernández. And if the responses I saw to my post last night are any indication, he doesn’t have very many supporters among baseball fans, either.

All this being said, Sabathia probably could’ve picked a better time to gripe about Hernández. Doing so immediately after one’s team has been eliminated from the postseason will make it seem like he’s just salty about losing and looking to lash out. Sabathia could have also phrased his concerns in a more diplomatic way if he were actually concerned with getting better umpiring crews for the playoffs.

When Rick Porcello, who opposed Sabathia in Game 4, caught wind of Sabathia’s comments, he said (via James Wagner of the New York Times), “Throw the ball over the plate C.C. I thought Ángel Hernández called a good game. You gotta out the ball over the white part of the plate and then you get the strikes called.”

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.