Baseball players and fans have long lamented that umpire Angel Hernandez is bad at his job.
In a legal filing issued Monday, MLB agreed with the sentiment in no uncertain terms.
Hernandez has worked as an MLB umpire since 1993. In 2017, he sued MLB alleging he was denied the crew chief role and the World Series job due to racial discrimination. U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken ruled in favor of MLB in 2021, dismissing the lawsuit while ruling that “no reasonable juror could find that MLB’s explanation constitutes a pretext for a discriminatory motive.”
Hernandez challenged the decision in June in an appeal arguing that “MLB manipulated the performance of Mr. Hernandez and other minority umpires” in their year-end reviews. According to the Associated Press, MLB issued a 58-page legal response to Hernandez’s appeal on Wednesday. In it, MLB once again denounced Hernandez’s claim as baseless.
“Hernandez has not presented, and the record does not contain, a scintilla of evidence that MLB’s actions were based on his race or national origin,” the filing states.
He then cited several instances in which MLB believes Hernandez failed in his job, most notably three missed calls in the 2018 AL Division Series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox that were eventually overturned. MLB maintains that then-chief baseball officer Joe Torre selected Hernandez for the ALDS “with the intention of giving him an opportunity to umpire the World Series that year.” It was his performance in that ALDS that cost him a spot in the World Series, MLB claims.
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“Hernandez did not take advantage of this opportunity and did not rise to the occasion,” MLB’s filing said. “This was the first time since the introduction of expanded instant replay in 2014 that a referee had three calls overturned in a postseason game.
“Based on his performance in that Division Series playoff game, Torre was unsure of Hernandez’s ability to perform effectively on an even more intense stage and for that reason did not select him for the World Series that year season.”
MLB didn’t happen. He also cited an infamous 2013 call in which Hernandez — then a crew chief — failed to overturn an apparent ninth-inning home run by Oakland A’s Adam Rosales against Cleveland that was wrongly ruled a double. Hernandez’s crew refused to correct the call despite the benefit of replay and video that clearly showed the ball clearing the wall and bouncing back onto the court after hitting a railing. Cleveland won the game 4-3.
“For years, Hernandez refused to admit that the call he made was wrong and instead tried to blame the quality of the replay equipment,” the MLB filing states. “Hernandez’s inability to put the Cleveland incident behind him — and his continued insistence that others were to blame for his bad decision — was emblematic of why Torre deemed him unfit for World Series assignments and a permanent crew chief role.
“The issue wasn’t the bad call itself, but Hernandez’s reaction to his mistake.”
MLB acknowledged at the time that Hernandez got the call wrong.
There are more. MLB has criticized Hernandez for what it says is his tendency to eject managers rather than defuse on-field conflicts with warnings. She also accuses him of creating problems in the first place through miscommunication.
“Hernandez was quick to fire the managers, which inflames tensions on the field, rather than issuing warnings that could potentially defuse these situations,” the filing states. confusion on the field and unnecessary delays in the game.”
MLB also reported the time Hernandez allegedly eavesdropped on a call to MLB about a 2019 game between the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays that was delayed nearly 20 minutes due to an umpiring issue Hernandez oversaw. Torre wrote in a previous deposition that the delay occurred because Hernandez did not know the rules.
“During this investigation, MLB concluded that Hernandez intentionally and deceptively eavesdropped on a confidential conversation with another umpire on his crew to hear what that umpire would say about the incident. and when MLB asked Hernandez about it, he lied about his behavior,” the MLB filing states.
A lawyer for Hernandez claimed in 2020 that Hernandez had been invited to the call.
“There’s an old saying among lawyers, if you don’t have anything to say about your clients attack the victim,” Kevin Murphy said, according to The Athletic. “Angelos Hernandez didn’t eavesdrop, he was invited to that call … and MLB told Angelos he made the right decision.”
MLB also reiterated an earlier claim that Hernandez asked then-Cincinnati Rays shortstop Homer Bailey for 11 autographed balls after he threw a no-hitter in 2012, according to the AP.
According to the AP, Hernandez’s attorney, Murphy, did not respond to an email Wednesday seeking comment.