Apr 28, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; First base umpire Angel Hernandez (55, left) and home plate umpire Larry Vanover (27, right) listen for the call during a challenge by the San Francisco Giants in the third inning of the game against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
The unfortunate reality of baseball’s new replay rules is that certain really good umpires will be shown to miss a few calls here and there.
Jim Joyce is famous for making the wrong call on Armando Gallaraga’s 1-hitter a couple of years ago, but he is otherwise a very good umpire. Ed Hochili of the NFL is known for his muscles and being a very good orator when explaining rule decisions, but don’t ask Chargers fans about him. Yes, the really good umpires have nothing to fear.
Angel Hernandez on the other hand? Run.
In last night’s Padres-Giants game both managers made successful instant replay challenges in back-to-back innings. Who was the umpire in both cases? Angel Hernandez. Angel’s long line of missteps is well documented, from him throwing out a 7th inning stretch singer at Wrigley, to last year making the wrong call EVEN AFTER WATCHING an instant replay, then sending a note out to face the media afterward. Noted Atlanta Braves superstar Chipper Jones refuses to watch any games he umpires, a story told by fellow Fansided writer Jeff Shafer.
Just in case you missed it. In the third inning Xavier Nady lumbered his way to first base on a slow roller. He was called safe but the crowd immediately voiced its displeasure. The umpires reviewed it. With a smug look on Angel Hernandez’s face, the call was overturned. Out. Inning over.
The next inning, Padres Tyson Ross legged out a ball hit with an error by third baseman Pablo Sandoval. He was called out, but after Padres manager Bud Black came out to challenge, the ruling was reversed. Unfortunately, the Padres were unable to capitalize and bring him around to score, but they were able to hang on for the 6-4 victory. Angel seemed to smirk the rest of the game on any routine play he called, probably wondering if that one would be challenged too.
There is still a lot to learn about this instant replay system, but in general the rulings have been quick and accurate. If it makes the game better, I’m all for it. If it leads to eliminating or demoting umpires who make too many emotionally-based decisions that can make or break team’s seasons, I’m really for it. So to Angel Hernandez, CB Bucknor, and Joe West, be on the lookout. You can’t hide from instant replay forever.