Although already known as one of the most inconsistent and controversial umpires in the MLB, Angel Hernandez upped the ante last night.
With the Yankees leading the Blue Jays 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Masahiro Tanaka fired a fastball down the middle of the plate that was called a ball. It was probably the most obvious strike to ever be called a ball in the history of baseball. The missed call was so bad, the announcers couldn’t help but show their shocking disapproval.
Catcher Gary Sanchez had to take a second look at Hernandez while Tanaka stared in complete shock. What should have been an 0-2 count turned into a 1-1 count. On the next pitch, Toronto outfielder Randal Grichuk took Tanaka deep for a solo home-run, sparking a four-run inning for the Jays en route to a 4-3 victory.
Had Hernandez not missed the blatant strike call, it can be argued that Tanaka would have thrown a completely different pitch had he been ahead 0-2 in the count. Instead, Hernandez’s call changed the outcome of the at-bat in a way that had a significant impact on the outcome of the game. It also wasn’t the only missed call he had.
Keep in mind, all of these missed calls came in the same inning.
Criticism of Hernandez has become so extreme, that TBS analyst and former pitcher Pedro Martinez bashed him on TBS last October.
“Major League Baseball needs to do something about Angel,” Martinez said. “It doesn’t matter how many times he sues Major League Baseball. He’s as bad as there is.”
With constant debates surrounding the use of humans vs robots as umpires, Hernandez certainly didn’t help the human’s case last night. Although the use of robot umpires is something the league has explored, this change would likely not be able to happen for quite some time.
Instead, the MLB should be more strict with their umpires and punish or suspend them based on their performance. The league should also become more selective with the roles of umpires, and designate specific roles for each umpire, rather than shifting them across the field each game.
What happened in last night’s game was unacceptable, and if the MLB doesn’t change the way in which they handle poor umpire performance, a robot invasion may be on the horizon. At least, in professional baseball.