Nothing to Say About Angel Hernandez

I’ve often wondered what would happen if a group of umpires came together to make a call that was so obviously wrong, so over-the-top blatantly inaccurate as to be completely nonsensical. Like, what if a pitcher threw a pitch, and the batter grounded out, and the umpires signaled for an automatic double? Obviously, the defensive team’s manager would get ejected, and a bunch of other guys would probably get ejected too, but, then what? If the umpires all agree that the batter doubled, who steps in to prevent the double? Does the defensive team leave the field in protest? Are they then given a forfeit? Does the commissioner get involved? The commissioner would have to get involved. But this is a thought experiment — of course, something like this would never happen.

But, you know. There are bad calls every day. Some of them are dreadful. Inexplicably dreadful. And now we have one that even followed a video review. You already know all this by now, but Wednesday night in Cleveland, in a high-leverage spot, the umpiring team did something nonsensical, and shortly thereafter the A’s were handed another loss. At least, Oakland should’ve played a bottom of the ninth. They didn’t, and won’t.

The quick summary, for anyone who somehow missed it: the A’s were trailing the Indians 4-3 in the top of the ninth with two outs and nobody on. Adam Rosales then hit a long fly ball that caromed back into the field of play off the top of the wall, or thereabouts. The call on the field was a double, but then the play was reviewed, and slow-motion instant replays on TV showed the fly ball to have bounced off a railing behind the official yellow line. The video was conclusive — Rosales hit a home run, and the A’s had the game tied. Then Angel Hernandez and the umpiring crew re-emerged from their box, and Hernandez pointed to second base. Rosales’ double was upheld, and the A’s didn’t have the game tied, and a few minutes later the A’s lost. Later, Hernandez would refuse to offer much of an explanation. His word of choice: “inconclusive.”

Basically, the wrong call was made on the field. But that was understandable, because from a distance it would’ve been hard to tell what the ball hit. That’s why instant replay exists, and the system worked perfectly, right up until Hernandez and the rest of the umpires watched slow-motion video and still got it wrong. Given the aid of slowed time and better vision, the umpires still couldn’t figure out what happened in the baseball game.

If it’s solace you want, then, all right, the umpires didn’t cost the A’s the game. The umpires cost the A’s several points of win expectancy, but even if Rosales were given the home run, the A’s still would have been the heavy underdogs, on account of having two out in the ninth. They could’ve lost anyway, and they could’ve lost soon. Additionally, video replay isn’t automatic. Video replay still comes down to a judgment call, and because judgment calls are made by humans, they won’t be 100% accurate. They’ll approach 100%, but they won’t be literally perfect, so every now and again you’d expect a call to be made wrong, anyway. This was one such call, and in the big picture these calls are going to happen. People screw up. Given a do-over, people will still screw up sometimes.

But if that’s some solace, it isn’t much. What happened was genuinely unforgivable and genuinely inexplicable. Said Hernandez:

“It was not evident on the TV we had that it was a home run. … I don’t know what kind of replay you had, but you can’t reverse a call unless there’s 100 percent evidence.”

Initially, I figured that maybe the umpiring crew didn’t have very good camera angles to work with. Again, from a distance, the play’s hard to judge conclusively. I’d get it, even if that were still problematic. But here’s Ken Rosenthal:


I don’t know if they were watching the Oakland feed or the Cleveland feed. I do know that it shouldn’t matter. Here’s a clip from the Oakland feed:

clip0572.gif.opt

Here’s a clip from the Cleveland feed:

clip0573.gif.opt

Based on their replays, the Oakland announcers agreed that this was an obvious home run. Based on their replays, the Cleveland announcers agreed that this was an obvious home run. Both sides were utterly shocked when Hernandez and the rest of the umpires kept Rosales at second. Regarding the play, there wasn’t any mystery. Regarding the decision, there was nothing but.

And I just don’t know what there is to do. In the past, whenever a call was made wrongly, the Internet would be flooded with articles calling for more instant-replay review. Here, there was instant-replay review, and still it made no difference. So there’s no system to change, no improvement to be recommended. It’s possible, I suppose, that the umpires had the right camera angles, but they had to watch on a small and terrible screen. Given low enough surface area and sufficient pixelization, I see how something like this could happen. I don’t see how Major League Baseball would supply its umpires with awful television sets, but since I don’t know any details, this could be a thing. Maybe the necessary improvement is better video resolution, for when replay review is necessary. MLB could make that improvement at the cost of practically nothing, to them. At the cost of one umpire’s salary.

Seems to me the right thing to do, after the fact, would’ve been to reverse the call and resume the game on Thursday morning. I saw Buster Olney suggest this first, since by Thursday morning everybody knew the call was screwed up. The A’s and Indians were already preparing to play a matinee, and so while it wouldn’t have been as perfect as getting the call right in the first place, at least it would’ve been justice. The A’s would’ve been given their due opportunity. This didn’t happen, even though there is some precedent in the Pine Tar game.

Of course, having the commissioner intervene to overrule the umpires would kickstart the whole slippery-slope argument, since there’s a steady stream of bad calls in every baseball game that’s played. If you overrule one, why not overrule another? Where do you draw the line? What baseball game could ever be completed, if every bad call had to be reversed after the fact? It’s not an easy situation, but like everything, this would need to be handled on a case-by-case basis, and in this case it would make all the sense in the world. Every team in baseball gets wronged by the human element. The A’s were wronged by instant-replay review, which shouldn’t ever happen, given the whole purpose of having replay review in the first place. Maybe that’s where you draw the line. The A’s shouldn’t be punished because you’re worried about some hypothetical future disaster scenario.

As for Angel Hernandez, there’s been a lot of talk already about umpire accountability. Surely, Hernandez is going to hear about this from his superiors, if he hasn’t already. This is a blemish for the game, a blemish caused by Hernandez and the rest of his crew. It is worth remembering that Hernandez didn’t make this decision on his own, that several eyes were watching the slow-motion replay. It was a group decision to keep Rosales at second base, so the other umpires shouldn’t be ignored. Hernandez, though, is the face of this episode. It didn’t help that he was stubborn and evasive in his post-game interview.

People want for Hernandez to be fired, or at least to be disciplined significantly. Hernandez’s reputation is among the worst in the game, and it’s not like he hasn’t earned it. Hernandez should be disciplined, somehow, but let’s think about this instance. I’m trying to figure out what Hernandez did wrong, where things went awry. He would’ve gone to the replay trying to make things right. I don’t believe for a second that Hernandez had a reason to uphold the double, if the evidence suggested to him otherwise. He didn’t see conclusive evidence. I don’t know how, or why, but it’s not like Hernandez forgot a rule. He just…inexplicably didn’t see something. It’s kind of like the football ref who got the coin flip wrong. This is bizarre, fluky. Hernandez should be punished, but maybe the replay-review screen just sucks, and punishing Hernandez isn’t going to make matters improve.

As for firing Hernandez, given his mounting resume of controversies, it isn’t as simple as pointing out that Hernandez is considered to be among the league’s worst umpires. The league only has so many umpires, and some of them are going to be good, some of them are going to be bad, and some of them are going to be okay. That’s how distributions work. It isn’t whether Hernandez is the worst of the MLB umpires. It’s whether there are better umpires who could take his place. Maybe there are, in the minors, but I certainly don’t know for sure. And now we’re straying from the point.

The point is: what? What happened? A close call was reviewed, as it should’ve been. The review was interpreted wrongly. The A’s lost a game that should’ve at least lasted a few minutes longer than it did. During a discussion of the controversy on ESPN, Aaron Boone tried to talk and just wore this expression of helpless disbelief. That’s the expression I’m wearing while writing this. This isn’t a case where we need to call for MLB to adopt expanded instant replay. This is a case where we need to call for MLB to…I don’t know. It’s probably too late to make things right. And things are never going to make sense. There’s no clear lesson. There’s only what happened.




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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


207 Responses to “Nothing to Say About Angel Hernandez”

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  1. Braves Fan says:

    The same thing happened to Justin Upton when the Braves were playing the Nats.

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  2. Tom B says:

    “The league only has so many umpires, and some of them are going to be good, some of them are going to be bad, and some of them are going to be okay.”

    This is just flat out wrong. There is no reason at all to employ a bad umpire. Especially one with a clear and consistent track record of being a bad umpire.

    Is there some shortage of people that want to be MLB umpires? I can’t see why. If there is then MLB should simply pay them more, it would become a more desirable job and maybe some more dedicated and able-bodied people would do it.

    Again, there is NO EXCUSE for employing obviously bad umpires.

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    • Tom B says:

      The entire umpire “crew” needs to get younger, and maybe there needs to be more of them involved in each game.

      50+ year old men physically can not locate a 90+mph fastball in space and should not be relied upon to do so. It’s almost unfair to ask them to… it isn’t their fault, their brains simply just don’t work as fast as a younger person.

      One thing to get away from here is to entirely blame Angel Hernandez for this decision. 4 grown men went into that room and came up with this call, not just him. They should ALL be fired, or at the VERY LEAST suspended pending further investigation into them fixing games.

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      • deadpool says:

        More umpires per game won’t help anything. If anything it makes things worse. If there weren’t extra umps in the NL WC game last year Holbrook likely never makes that infield fly call. While that call was technically accurate I can’t imagine he’d have made it if he wasn’t standing 50 ft deeper than normal as an extra ump.

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      • Paul says:

        O/U on that game last night was 8 1/2. Just sayin’

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    • Bad, relative to the others

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      • Tom B says:

        I think this is way beyond “relative to the others”.

        We’re not even talking about something directly measurable like strike zone accuracies, where all MLB umpires are probably all pretty close to each other (would love one of you to write that article)… but some may be slightly worse than others. Plus calling a strike zone “live” is really, really hard.

        But no… We are talking about a walking, talking embarrassment to the sport. Watching a replay and playing arm-chair ref is not hard, there are hundreds of millions of trained “replay watchers” on couches all across the globe.

        How does he not at any point during his “infamous” career get suspended or sent down to AAA to work on his attitude and inability to stop showing up the players on the field?

        Some times employees are “so good” at certain aspects of their job that you overlook some other faults for the good of the company. What exactly is Angel Hernandez good at when it comes to umpiring? Players don’t like him, managers don’t like him, fans don’t like him, he grandstands… what exactly is he doing to keep himself so gainfully employed?

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      • Bill G. says:

        This is so superficial. Yes there is a non-degenerate distribution of umpiring talent. Yes that means that some of the umpires in the major leagues are worse than others. But what you are suggesting is that if Hernandez’ umpiring talent is acceptable at the major league level, then we have a bunch of extremely bad umpires in the minor leagues who don’t have the talent to be major league umpires. I don’t buy that for a second.

        Just the fact that there ARE people willing to toil umpiring in the minor leagues implies that “the league” does not suffer from having too few umpires. And, as Tom B points out, even if this were the case, I am sure that major league baseball would be willing to take the minuscule hit in (as you say, relative) profits it would take to raise umpiring wages to the point where more people in the general population would be incentivized to take up umpiring. And, if more people are competing for the job, then there are more people with, again as you say, relatively high umpiring talent.

        Basically, it IS as simple as firing umpires that are at the wrong tail of the distribution and replacing them with those in the minors who are at the right tail.

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        • Jason B. says:

          Bill–

          Wait a sec, where did anyone (Sullivan or any of the commenters above) indicate that it was acceptable? I’ve seen comments clarifying that Jeff meant Jeff meant someone has to be the worst relative to other umps, and several data points indicate Hernandez has been consistently bad, but nowhere does he or anyone say or imply that it should simply be accepted or shouldn’t be addressed. What are you referring to?

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    • Richard says:

      I think you’re right, but I read Jeff’s point, combined with his rehearsal of the observation that Hernandez is consistently rated among the worst umpires, that some umpires will have to be the worst umpires in the league, some will be the best. But you’re right that they should all be minimally competent.

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    • Jason B says:

      “The league only has so many umpires, and some of them are going to be good, some of them are going to be bad, and some of them are going to be okay…this is just flat out wrong.”

      I think the author meant “bad” in comparison to other umpires, not objectively bad, hence the next sentence, “That’s how distributions work.” When compared to each other, someone has to be the worst, and half have to be below average.

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      • Tom B says:

        Yes, obviously someone or some thing has to be “the worst” in every set… but this is bordering on gross incompetence. If any of us were this wrong at our jobs, lives could be at stake and we would certainly have been fired on the spot.

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        • Jason B says:

          “If any of us were this wrong at our jobs, lives could be at stake”

          Totally false (for most of us, at least; doctors, nurses, pharmacists, pilots and the like, yes). Yes, it was a deplorable call, but conflating it into a life-or-death type comparison is a tad hyperbolic. (And unnecessary, the call was bad enough on its own, it doesn’t need hyperbole to rise to the level of being worthy of being criticized or mocked.)

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        • Phrozen says:

          Hey, now, the Angel Hernandez of waitresses could accidentally pour a vial of anthrax spores into your coffee.

          The Angel Hernandez of garbagemen could drive a garbage truck through your house.

          The Angel Hernandez of programmers could accidentally reprogram banking software to become self-aware leading to Skynet.

          The Angel Hernandez of fishermen could awaken a sleeping seamonster which would destroy the world.

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        • Tom B says:

          “Totally false (for most of us, at least; doctors, nurses, pharmacists, pilots and the like, yes).”

          So… not totally false? OK Jason.

          It’s not conflating anything. When you make mistakes on the job, someone has to pay for it. Whether it is you, your employer or your clients, someone pays.

          Angel Hernandez finds himself in a job where his employer and his clients pay for his mistakes. What a wonderful thing for him.

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        • atoms says:

          Exactly. Plus, if you consistently remove “the worst” from the set and add in a new person who is likely to be closer to average, then over time you will move the average quality up, and the distribution will improve. No reason poor umpires can’t get relegated (fired). It would provide incentives to not be the worst, of which there aren’t any right now.

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        • Jason B. says:

          You’re right, I made an error today, forgot to carry a one, and eleven people died.

          I’m not saying it was the correct call; it obviously was not. Not saying we should tolerate or fail to discipline anyone who makes egregious or chronic errors; we obviously should. Just saying that most people’s errors result in “life and death” mistakes. A few may. Most don’t. That’s all. :-)

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        • Bad Bill says:

          Road rage on the information superhighway is a sad thing.

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        • Tim says:

          Pretty much any of us who drive would be killing people all over the place if we were as bad at it as Angel Hernandez is at umpiring.

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        • Luis Matos says:

          Not in an infinite set. trolol.

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    • Gabriel says:

      Exactly. The issue isn’t whether some umpires are better and others worse. The issue is whether some are below replacement level.

      With players, obviously some are better and some worse. The difference is that the bad ones get replaced by guys who are better than they are (even if the replacements are, by definition, replacement level).

      That doesn’t happen with umpires, but it should. I’m willing to bet that most of the good umpires feel that way too.

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    • Albert says:

      I strongly recommend As they See Em, probably the most interesting treatment of baseball I’ve read, and it’s entirely about the umpires. Has made me see the game in a whole new light.

      Anyways, minor league umps make ~15K a year. Major league umps make ~400k a year with outstanding benefits (hundred-plus per diems).

      The system is a total go-along-to-get along clustermug, with a few nods toward capability and outcomes, but those outcome-based promotion tools are used just as often to politically fire or promote an umpire as they are to promote an their merits.

      But, yes, there are a large number of AAA umps waiting for the call up just like the players.

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    • Trader says:

      Your post was correct and well said except for one little issue…

      “There is no reason at all to employ a bad umpire. Especially one with a clear and consistent track record of being a bad umpire.”

      Yes, yes there is – its called the union.

      Unfortunately, unions makes it damn near impossible to fire someone who is flat out horrific at, or careless towards, their job. In fact, it could be argued that the main purpose of a union is to make it damn near imposable to fire someone almost no matter what they do (hence autoworkers drinking and doing drugs in the parking lot or teachers who are caught doing everything from selling drugs on campus to even fondling children not being dismissed from their positions – and that, sadly, isn’t hyperbole)

      As long as Umpires are represented by a union, bad umpires are going no where.

      BTW, here is a blog post on the Major League Umpires Blog about Angel Hernandez from last year after Ron Washington and Bryce Harper took public issue with him…

      http://majorleagueumpires.blogspot.com/2012/08/angel-behind-plate.html

      …apparently Umpires doing their job well isnt really that important. Instead, what is really important is whether they are “capable of greatness in their own way” or not. Criticize his inability to do his actual job well and its merely “bashings” which “fail to mention was Hernandez’s incredible charity work in south Florida”

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      • Scraps says:

        Remember 1999? A whole lot of umps were fired, despite the big, bad umpires’ union.

        Just saying.

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        • Scraps says:

          (Yes, yes, technically they were resignations accepted. But they were really firing. Baseball could do the same, even with the union, if they wanted to. Have you ever worked a unionized job? Did you feel 100% protected?)

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        • Trader says:

          How do you consider that being fired in any way possible?

          The Umps Union was all upset that MLB released their rankings of Umpires because that highlighted the bad Umpires, upset Umpires were being suspended for things like bumping players, and of course, wanted more money…

          Seeing as they signed an agreement not to strike though, they thought the next best thing would be to “show” the MLB by holding a mass resignation – all the MLB did was accept the resignations of some of the guys who had just very publicly quit their jobs.

          Also, here is a link to the outcome of the downright embarrassing Umpiring fiasco in the 2009 postseason:
          http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/2651/mlb-fires-umpiring-supervisors
          You’ll notice, they couldn’t actually fire the Umps like they wanted to because of the Union.

          As far as all the umpires like Scott, McClelland, etc who made Umpires straight laughing stocks with their unbelievably horrific calls during that Post Season? Well, yeah, they are still Umpiring in the MLB…

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        • Trader says:

          In fact, I’m trying to look up the last Umpire to actually be fired, and I cant find one single Umpire who has ever be canned!

          The closest thing we have is a couple 1-3 game suspensions for confrontations they instigated; and the Umpires Union even bitched and screamed about them…

          Like I said, anyone upset that we have horrible Umpires in the game needs to look no further then the Union which is ensuring they will be there no matter what they do or how pitiful they are at their job

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        • Scraps says:

          According to Wikipedia:

          Aftermath

          Although the MLUA was no longer representing active umpires, it still did so for the 22 who lost their jobs. In negotiations for a new labor agreement, which was signed in September 2000, the MLUA turned down an offer from MLB owners that would have seen 13 umpires brought back.[19] An arbitrator ordered in December 2001 that nine of the twenty-two umpires be reinstated, and MLB reached an agreement to do so in February 2002; four of the umpires retired with back pay.[20] Three umpires were rehired by MLB in 2002, and Rich Garcia was given a supervisor position. In late 2004, a labor agreement between MLB and the MLUA gave jobs back to three more umpires, while the remaining six gained severance pay.[21] By that time, half of the terminated umpires were working again in MLB.[22]

          So, eleven umpires lost their jobs, I figure.

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        • Scraps says:

          The closest thing we have is a couple 1-3 game suspensions for confrontations they instigated; and the Umpires Union even bitched and screamed about them…

          That’s their job. You are like the people screaming about defense lawyers.

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        • Synovia says:

          No, its not. The Union’s job is to make sure ALL employees are treated fairly, paid according to their ability,etc.

          When you protect and promote people who are clearly incompetent, you are directly harming those who are not. Unions that act like this aren’t doing their jobs.

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        • Scraps says:

          And how do you feel about defense lawyers representing guilty parties?

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        • Trader says:

          Scrap,

          first – 11 guys QUIT their jobs in very deliberate and public fashion; they were not fired in any possible conceivable meaning of the word. And as I said, not one single umpire has ever been fired that I can find record of.

          second – it should NOT be the job of an organization to make it absolutely impossible to fire grossly negligent, incompetent of confrontational employees. (and sometimes, downright criminal – as is the case with teachers in at least Detroit, where you can be on campus teaching drunk 5 times, high 3 times or selling drugs twice before being canned)

          …but if your position is that it is the Unions job to ensure that we have the absolute worst baseball experience possible at the hands of Umpires who have proven they have no business being anywhere near the field… well, then congrats I guess – that’s what they are giving us!

          Yay for unbelievably crappy Umps who can never be disciplined or dismissed keeping us from getting good Umps who actually want to do a job they are almost certainly better at anyway!!!

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        • Scraps says:

          That was interesting! If you get around to responding to what I’ve said, I’m all ears.

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    • they gets paids a lot says:

      http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070827&content_id=2173765&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

      As of 2007, the starting salary was 120,000 and senior umps made 350,000. The salaries have probably at least increased to match inflation since then. I wish they could fire some of the worst ones but I believe that is impossible based on their union contract.

      It’s hard to get one of the few jobs available, but it is not frigging brain surgery or rocket science. The actual thinking requires probably a primary school education. Complicated things like counting, you know. They do have great eyes, however.

      “A Major League umpire’s starting salary is around $120,000, with the senior umps earning up to $350,000. “

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  3. Ryan says:

    I was hoping to click the headline to find a blank screen.

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  4. TheGrandslamwich says:

    According to Jason Stark’s twitter the umpires watch the same video feeds in high def.

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      • J. H. Christ says:

        You rang?

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        • scraps says:

          (When I was a kid forty-plus years ago, this joke was as old as the Great Wall of China then. I’m not saying withhold the joke — though God knows [ha ha joke] if you were around a person who said “you rang” every time someone said “Jesus”, you would want to hit him — but to respond with +1? Well– jeez.)

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        • Wobatus says:

          We were going to church for Easter and my daughter, who is potty training, proudly displayed her work right before we left. “Look momma, look poppa.” We praised her and then I went to clean it up. My daughter said “No poppa! Want Jesus to see it.”

          So, enjoy.

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        • Scraps says:

          Now that’s funny.

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        • wobatus says:

          Scraps, I gotta agree, it’s a bit odd to +1 that. It’s like a bad pun or knock knock joke.

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      • Max says:

        and the Angel…

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    • SoledadY says:

      The issue is clearly not with the technology but the people using it. I can only imagine watching these umpires fumble over themselves trying to find the right angle, slow down the footage, and zoom into the point of contact. They need someone to provide that footage for them. I mean it took over a minute for the A’s broadcast to find the right shot and they have a crew of video experts.

      When it comes to technology some people can not be trusted and I imagine the average MLB umpire falls into this group.

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    • I had thought they used Google Glasses.

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    • Bab says:

      That’s fucking unbelievable.

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  5. Charlie says:

    Are we all really surprised Angel Hernandez blatantly missed a call?

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    • Ballfan says:

      Like Jeff points out, its Hernandez and all the other umps too….so yeah, quite hard to believe.

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      • Drakos says:

        Do we know that the other umps missed it too? I don’t know how it works, but as crew chief does Hernandez have the final say even if the rest of the crew disagrees with him?

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      • Brian says:

        How does the decision get made whether to overturn a call? Is the at the sole discretion of the crew chief? Do all 4 umps have to agree?

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  6. sporkless says:

    To partially answer your hypothetical questions – managers can “play the game under protest”.

    Basically, the manager can do this if he thinks the umpires have misapplied the rules. i.e., Really bad judgment calls cannot be protested, like last night’s. But the protest will only get upheld (and force the game to be replayed from that point) in extreme circumstances. The pine tar game protest by the Royals *was* upheld – don’t know if it’s happened since.

    (BTW, my own opinion is that the pine tar game protest should not have been upheld – the umpire did adhere to the written rules when he called Brett out.)

    Here’s the rules excerpt:
    – – –
    4.19 PROTESTING GAMES. Each league shall adopt rules governing procedure for
    protesting a game, when a manager claims that an umpire’s decision is in violation of these rules. No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the umpire. In all protested games, the decision of the League President shall be final.
    Even if it is held that the protested decision violated the rules, no replay of the game will be ordered unless in the opinion of the League President the violation adversely affected the protesting team’s chances of winning the game.
    Rule 4.19 Comment: Whenever a manager protests a game because of alleged misapplication of the rules the protest will not be recognized unless the umpires are notified at the time the play under protest occurs and before the next pitch, play or attempted play. A protest arising on a game-ending
    play may be filed until 12 noon the following day with the league office.
    – – -

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    • J. B. Rainsberger says:

      You can’t protest a judgment call, which includes whether the ball remained in play or left the playing field. You could protest something like the umpires moving players to the wrong bases on a ball that goes out of play, or incorrectly correcting a team batting out of order, but not judgments as to whether a pitch is a ball/strike, a batted ball is fair/foul or a runner is safe/out a close play.

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      • deadpool says:

        So basically you can’t protest anything that matters?

        Why are those judgement calls? The ball is objectively fair or foul, the ball is objectively in or out of the park, the runner objectively beat the throw, and the bal was objectively a strike.

        These aren’t subjective judgements, they are or aren’t, and an umpire’s judgment doesn’t change that.

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      • Rick says:

        The spirit of the rules seem to state that a replay isn’t a judgment call. When the rules state one can not argue something that has been reviewed by replay, they’re connoting that there’s nothing to argue; i.e. no judgment to be discussed. The idea of instituting replay was so that wrong judgment would be eliminated from situations that there is definitive correct call to be made – i.e. non-judgment situations.
        According to the rules, this game should be allowed to be protested.

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    • vaguely unrelated side note: the signal umpires make for “game being played under protest” is possibly the best hand signal in all of sports

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    • Ian R. says:

      Regarding the Pine Tar Game, my understanding is that the written rule provided only for the removal of the bat from the game, not calling the batter out. That’s definitely the way the rules are written now (it’s rule 1.10(c)), but I suppose it may have been changed since then.

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    • Trader says:

      Regarding the Pine-Tar incident, no, the Umpire did not adhere to the rules

      The rules clearly state any complaint about equipment needs to take place prior to the play, not after. McClelland called Brett out and erased his HR when the Yankees protested after the fact. That is why his decision was overturned and the inning was ultimately replayed.

      Strangely, McClelland would go on to make three more unbelievably high profile questionable (to put it kindly) calls – the Matt Holliday slide at home against the Pads in that one-game-playoff and was the worst offending Ump in the 2009 Angels/Yankees playoff series debacle, making both the Swisher and Cano calls

      All of these infamous incidents generally find themselves onto peoples “worst calls in history” lists too – case in point;
      http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-worst-calls-in-baseball-history.php

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  7. D says:

    Why can’t the reviews be performed off-site? One review ump for all of MLB. When a call is in question, the decision is made centrally where it can be done faster, and now we know, more reliably.

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    • erghammer says:

      The NHL does this. All video reviews are done offsite, at league headquarters. So this removes any issue about bad video equipment at a particular stadium.

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    • Scott says:

      Exactly what I came to post. There is a system to be changed and an improvement to be recommended, and this is it. It is ridiculous to assume that the only people who should authorized to overrule a call are the ones who made the call in the first place. In fact, allowing only the umpires involved in the play to participate in the review actually allows for the possibility of confirmation bias i.e. being inclined not to overrule the decision one (or all) of them has already made. Furthermore, outsourcing the video review to the booth or (like the NHL does it) a central league office would speed up the process because the umps wouldn’t have to walk all the way to the review room, take several minutes to make a decision, and mosey back to announce it. Things would be so much simpler–and, I would surmise, more accurate– if the ultimate decision rested with a third party arbiter.

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    • Chickensoup says:

      All the games are probably blacked out at the headquarters :P

      +24 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bab says:

      This is a great idea. The problem is that baseball has 2xs as many competitions as hockey and has many more potential disputable events. The HQ would be like an outsourced Comcast call center.

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    • Vince says:

      Because some umpires – Hi there, Angel! What’s up, Joe? – are preening egomaniacs who would need extensive counseling upon being overruled by a mere mortal.

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  8. Angel Hernandez was probably just jealous of all of the press John Hirschbeck got over the last few days.

    +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. mjmetro says:

    Hey Jeff,

    I’m a little confused. Didn’t you write an article about how the human element was good just a few weeks ago?

    Also, why would you go into baseball analysis when you so obviously hate baseball analysis?

    Thanks!

    -22 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • I proposed the idea that the human element might be good. And in the long run, it very well might be. I don’t know and it can’t be dismissed.

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      • Jason B says:

        That IS a good point; there’s no real point in complaining or asking for justice or retribution after the whole “Hey, errors are good for the game! They make us FEEL!!” thought experiment. (Which was a fun thought experiment, and thought-provoking, if misguided.)

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  10. That Guy says:

    Ray Fosse in the A’s broadcast keeps trying to explain how the ball hit the yellow, then /up/ off the railing and back into play. If Angel Hernandez is a guy who should lose his job because he’s incompitent, what does that say about Ray Fosse?

    +1 to the Indians fan who didn’t make an effort to catch the easy souvenir.

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    • J. B. Rainsberger says:

      I don’t apply the same standards to an umpire and a broadcaster. I hope you don’t.

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      • That Guy says:

        I wasn’t suggesting they be held to the “same standards”. What does it say about him and what we’re viewing when the broadcaster, who watches live baseball all day, and watches replays of baseball all day can still get a call so very wrong? Maybe Angel Hernandez is the worst umpire in the game, but maybe he’s still better than whoever isn’t.

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    • BX says:

      It’s not Ray Fosse’s job to get the call right. Broadcasters speculate all the time.

      It’s Angel Hernandez’s job to get the call right.

      +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Drakos says:

      To me it seemed like Ray Fosse was confused because they kept playing the replay forwards and backwards and he didn’t know which was which. It was definitely weird.

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    • Jason says:

      That was weird, I wondered if Fosse got confused by his own production crew doing the fast fwd/rewind thing.

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    • TheGrandslamwich says:

      Ray Fosse isn’t there to actually talk about baseball. He’s paid to comment because 3-4 times a year he will go on hilarious rants about Pete Rose. Trust me, it’s money well spent.

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  11. schlomsd says:

    If they really did watch the same replay angles on a HD tv (and I still have a hard time believing it) than the most logical explanation for the call is that the umpires didn’t want the game to go into extra innings and just wanted it over. I don’t see how there can be any other explanation since it’s so obvious that it hit the railing above the fence.

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  12. El Vigilante says:

    “Still would’ve been heavy underdogs”

    Assuming equal talent levels: 38.8% chance of winning with the HR compared to 11.6% with the double

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    • Cidron says:

      Underdogs have won before. Just ask Buster Douglas (vs Mike Tyson). But, they need a chance. Many teams have come back from down in the last inning.. That is why closers get good money and the top ones are sought out.

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  13. MikeS says:

    …if Rosales were given the home run, the A’s still would have been the heavy underdogs, on account of having two out in the ninth.

    The A’s lost a game that should’ve at least lasted a few minutes longer than it did.

    Am I missing something? The home run makes it a tie game with two outs in the top of the ninth which puts the A’s win expectancy somewhere around 40% and if no one else scores before four outs are recorded, it could go on much longer than “a few minutes.”

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    • Anon21 says:

      As to:

      it could go on much longer than “a few minutes.”

      You are indeed missing something, namely the phrase “at least” in the sentence you quoted.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • MikeS says:

        Maybe if “at least” were after “lasted.”

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        • Anon21 says:

          I don’t know what difference you think that would make. It clearly modifies “a few minutes longer” regardless of which way you write it.

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    • Shao says:

      Yes, you missed “at least”

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  14. jg941 says:

    Angel Hernandez and the other two who went in to view the replays should be fined (not sure how much) and suspended without pay for a minimum of 5 games, maybe 10.

    If you think the MLB is going to fire them outright (which they, frankly, deserve and which I’d be OK with, actually), you’re dreaming. If you think Bud Selig is going to make things truly right with a re-playing of the game from the point after the HR, you’re dreaming.

    But you have to send a message – it’s this kind of stupid inexplicable stuff that hurts the credibility of baseball in the eyes of fans, particularly the casual fans that you’re constantly trying to win/win back.

    You can’t rationalize this colossal screw-up to a generation raised on SportsCenter highlights. If the umpires can’t see the thing in front of them, why would you expect anyone to have any faith in the game?

    Blowing a call is one thing (one thing that can be fixed in this day and age, right?), but blowing a call ON AN OBVIOUS VIDEO REPLAY is a completely different animal. It may seem like an inconsequential thing to some, but it absolutely is NOT – it creates an impression of laughable incompetency at a minimum, and a suspicion of corruption at the other end, warranted or not.

    Unless – UNLESS – it is addressed appropriately. Any guesses as to how MLB will mis-handle this one?

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    • TKDC says:

      This happens if football all the time. It’s what you get when you task someone with doing something without any previous indication it is something they are capable of doing competently. You might as well ask the umpire to do the play-by-play for the local radio.

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      • TKDC says:

        Put another way, this would be like asking police officers to also try the criminals they arrest. Even if you are good at making decisions when boots are on the ground does not mean you are good at weighing the totality of the evidence.

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        • Cidron says:

          not quite true.. The policemen have an emotional investment on some of those arrests. You want a totally impartial, unbiased person hearing the trial.

          Umpires have an emotional investment as well.
          1)Simply, They want to be right the FIRST TIME. Few want to overturn their calls and say “Oops, sorry, I got that one wrong initially”. Opens the door to fallibility, in their minds.
          2)They don’t like to be corrected, called to correct, asked to review, asked to “get help from another ump” as it can be seen as a threat to their ego, as well as their authority.

          If they are both fallible and lacking of authority, … well, we saw that in the first few weeks of NFL with the replacement umps.. It wasn’t pretty. These umps have to get the calls right. Not a easy job, given the number of calls they make that we don’t notice. Given the number of distractions in a game that they have to deal with.

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        • TKDC says:

          I will grant you there is an emotional aspect, but that is not even close to the primary reason that police officers do not act as prosecutors for their arrests. It is a fundamentally different function. Umpires have a really hard job, and applying a standard of proof to instant replay is one more thing – something that is not at all taken into account when umpires are chosen (at least I severely doubt it is). I think a problem many people have is believing that this is just an extension of their job on the field. It isn’t.

          And I wonder what would have to be going on in Hernandez’ head for him to believe this is the less embarrassing outcome?

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        • Synovia says:

          Cidron, that sounds exactly like a police officer would feel trying someone.

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        • jg941 says:

          No one’s being asked to “weigh the totality of the evidence”.

          They’re being asked to watch a replay on TV – don’t try to make it any more complicated than that.

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  15. TheGrandslamwich says:

    Official statement from MLB is that the decision of the crew chief is final. Everythign stands as is.

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    • Tom B says:

      Head in the sand is and always has been MLB’s front office PR stance.

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      • Cidron says:

        We will oversee, we will change ‘THE’ game, sure. But, not ‘a’ game. As prev posted by someone above, the last time in memory that the league office stepped in and changed an outcome was the George Brett Pine Tar game. And that was… heck July 24 1983.. 30 yrs ago.

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  16. Wes says:

    I think the best evidence of how bad the call was is that the As are still so upset about it that they are getting shutdown by Scott Kazmir.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Joe Torre says:

    Obviously this proves that instant replay doesn’t work and will be stopped immediately as it only breaks up the flow of the game with no clear increase in accuracy of calls

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    • Jason says:

      and perhaps this was the umpire’s motivation? I’m not quite cynical enough to believe this, but the author’s search for a motive to get this wrong could arrive at this point.

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      • AMAC says:

        I’d say it makes them look incompetent in more ways than usual and surely that shouldn’t be aspirational no matter what the motivation?

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  18. TKDC says:

    Umpires are not chosen for their ability to apply an established standard of proof. In real time, it is either one way or the other, and anyone can guess (not necessarily correctly, but it is not hard to say “I think it was _____”).

    However, this responsibility is more like that of a legal professional. Understanding what “conclusive” is supposed to mean. That’s why it should be centralized and MLB should hire a former judge or someone like that to make these decisions. If they are going to review plays, it should not be left up to the umpire’s misguided understanding of “conclusive” (as in, this was fucking conclusive, so obviously Hernandez doesn’t understand what that word means).

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    • Jon C says:

      Juries are trusted to apply standards of proof, and they are, by definition, laypeople. MLB umpires could easily be (and probably are) trained in what the applicable standards are for different situations, and how to apply them to evidence.

      OTOH, umpires are not video experts, so maybe MLB should hire ex-CIA analysts or something to determine whether a ball cleared the fence or nicked the foul line. Since the umpires clearly are unable to make the call themselves.

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  19. Radivel says:

    Angel Hernandez was betting on the Indians.

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  20. scraps says:

    i hope fans of every team boo Angel Hernandez for all time. Just to show him how we all feel: contempt.

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  21. snoop LION says:

    Whats even more mind boggling is that it all four of them came to this conclusion. Unbelievable.

    Also agree on the point that umpires should be WAY YOUNGER. Old boys club where merit has little to do with anything.

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    • Cidron says:

      no, all four agreed on the conclusion. I bet that if they were asked, in private, with anonymity insured, that a few would say they didn’t agree with Angel. But, I bet he pulled some crap about how he saw it perfectly, how he has many more years of doing this so he knows how it should be, etc etc…

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      • Phrozen says:

        Did they really, though? Hernandez was the crew chief, and we don’t actually know what happened in the replay room. For all we know they sat around and shared a beer for a couple minutes before coming back out.

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    • Bab says:

      I’m *sure* it was like 12 Angry Men in the replay room.

      *chortles*

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  22. arp says:

    These things happen at the very least a handful of times a year for every team so I don’t really get why this is such a blatant example of instant replay gone bad. Is it a critical mass issue and people are just now getting fed up with mistakes of any kind? It’s really rather pathetic to read about ‘justice’ in an article like this as if a team or individual has truly been wronged. Sure a bad call was made and everyone’s favorite new technology did nothing to rectify the situation. Big deal, life sucks and then you die. Lets get a little perspective here and while we’re at it how about we just get rid of instant replay and go back to enjoying the game, warts and all, for what it actually is, a game!

    -11 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason B says:

      “while we’re at it how about we just get rid of instant replay and go back to enjoying the game, warts and all”

      Well at least we got this ridiculous line of reasoning out of the way…I was worried that we might have an umpiring/replay article without it!

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      • Jason B says:

        Interestingly, it was similar to Torre’s reasoning. “Umpiring will never be perfect blah blah blah” as if that’s a good enough reason to accept 98% correct instead of improve things and achieve 99.75% (or something). No one is claiming that all calls will suddenly be perfect with replay (that I’m aware of). It’s a total straw man. But it doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t improve.

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  23. RSquared says:

    Who runs the replay? The video production crew from the home field? Maybe some umpires are Luddites whose response to handling video replay is akin to a child eating lima beans (no offense to lima beans intended). Do umpires take a course in video production to understand the technology and how it can be manipulaTED? Or is it a bunch of guys with good eyesite watching TV.

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  24. Joebrady says:

    “Of course, having the commissioner intervene to overrule the umpires would kickstart the whole slippery-slope argument, since there’s a steady stream of bad calls in every baseball game that’s played. If you overrule one, why not overrule another? Where do you draw the line?”

    The obvious solution would be to restrict reviewable protest calls to home runs. When the ump blows the call on a line drive that hits the chalk, it is usually just a double. And there might be a 100 of these a year.

    The universe of HR calls that are missed, and can be considered game-changers, are probably pretty small.

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  25. yosoyfiesta says:

    So much discussion, easy fix, fire Angel Hernandez, the only calls he should be making are to his parents to see if he can move back in with them. Jim Joyce made a horrid call when he blew Galarraga’s perfect game, a horrid call, but that happened so fast, and there was no replay. He obviously felt terrible about it and apologized afterwards, Jim Joyce is a good umpire. Angel Hernandez got that video feed on replay, it’s a smack you in the face home run and didn’t change the call. That’s negligence and stupidity and frankly, he handled it like a jack ass. He should get his walking papers and the league should use better technology along outfield walls so this doesn’t happen again, could be as simple as installing more cameras.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • deadpool says:

      They didn’t fire Hohn for fist bumping a Marlin after ejecting 5 Braves in 2 games, they didn’t fire Eddings for cursing at Estrada until he couldn’t take it anymore and then ejected 3 Braves in a couple seconds or when he baited O’Flaherty so hard it made Chipper Jones lose his mind.

      And these are just Braves examples, honestly umpires do much worse things than miss calls.

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    • KDL says:

      I hope you didn’t post this from work, since you feel one mistake is a fire-able offense.
      Hernandez should face some repercussions. But let’s be reasonable.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • AMAC says:

        One mistake… you’re not a regular fan of the show are you?

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        • KDL says:

          In fairness there is nothing in the comment I replied to that speaks of the very real chronic problem of Hernandez’s umping. The comment presents one event, last night’s game, as the reason for firing him.

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        • KDL says:

          All I can do is read what’s written. I can’t read minds like you.

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      • JC says:

        It’s not one mistake. It’s years and years of bad calls and a worse attitude that makes people want him to be fired.

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  26. attgig says:

    It is worth remembering that Hernandez didn’t make this decision on his own, that several eyes were watching the slow-motion replay. It was a group decision to keep Rosales at second base, so the other umpires shouldn’t be ignored.

    Home Plate – John Tumpane, First Base – Paul Nauert, Second Base – Angel Hernandez, Third Base – Doug Eddings

    Would be nice to be a fly on the wall during the review….well, at least I’d hope the head of the umpires/mlb would have some sort of recording on how the conversation went, and who thought what, and if it really was a group consensus or of someone steered everyone else towards one outcome.

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  27. kwk9 says:

    MLB should compensate the A’s for the missed call. Calculate the WPA difference between the HR and the double, then convert to (free agency) dollars.

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    • Jason B says:

      “MLB should compensate the A’s for the missed call.”

      ??!!! This may be the most outlandish/worst idea I’ve seen yet.

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  28. Kevin says:

    “I’ve often wondered what would happen if a group of umpires came together to make a call that was so obviously wrong, so over-the-top blatantly inaccurate as to be completely nonsensical.”

    This already happened last season almost exactly a year ago:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120502&content_id=30242410&vkey=news_col&c_id=col

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  29. Chris K says:

    “Braves Fan” brings up that they also screwed up the Upton call. In the KC v CHW 3 days ago, Alexei Ramirez hit a go-ahead homerun, video conclusively showed it was inside the pole, and they still screwed up the call. This has already happened three times (possibly more) this young season. It didn’t matter as much b/c the Braves and Sox ended up winning their respective games, but something has to be done.

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  30. FeslenR says:

    I’ve always wondered about implementing something more obvious than a yellow line for the umpires to see. Was that awful blown call last night awful? That’s stating the obvious!

    What about making the yellow line red, or something similar to this?

    replays in playoffs I agree with, but replays in all games for all calls is something I hesitate. Two reasons: sports is played by humans and ‘bang bang plays’ are often just that-split decisions no matter how wrong or right the calls might become; 2nd reason if we use replays for baseball it will make it far too long.

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    • KDL says:

      White would be best. Red on green would be a nightmare.

      Although, I would advocate doing away with “magic homerun lines”. If it stays in the yard…it’s not a homerun.

      Also, coming up with some architectural rules for OF fencing could go a long way on this particular issue. (And I’m not advocating that all stadiums should have this look, but…) There was very rarely any doubt as to what was or wasn’t a homerun in the old cookie-cutter stadiums. It seems there must be some way to design things to get a similar result.

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    • scraps says:

      replays in all games for all calls is something I hesitate. Two reasons: sports is played by humans and ‘bang bang plays’ are often just that-split decisions no matter how wrong or right the calls might become; 2nd reason if we use replays for baseball it will make it far too long.

      Gee, I’ve never thought of those arguments before!

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  31. BX says:

    As an A’s fan, this was therapeutic. Thanks Jeff.

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  32. Cidron says:

    Hey, at least an umpires call only cost a game.. Its not like it has ever cost a WS game (and maybe the series).. whoops, it has done that as well.. (game 6, 1985, Jorge Orta (kc) and Don Denkinger (ump) being the principle figures)..

    Oh-well, I guess bad calls happen. Guess we might as well get used to it.
    They do get most of the calls right. And the only time we notice them is when they get ONE wrong, out of how many a night? You think its easy? Go out there and give it a try. You have a good night, you are anonymous. You have a bad night, you are … *shudders*. You don’t ever get any recognition for the good. You want that as part of your job description? Get over it. Its a bad call. Move on. The season is long and you will get a break or two in your favor as well over the course of the season.

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    • Tom B says:

      This is simply the wrong attitude. How many times do you send a guy out there who is blatently “doing it wrong” before you replace him? Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that mistakes are required.

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    • scraps says:

      Get over it. Its a bad call. Move on.

      Another fresh new argument heard from!

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      • scraps says:

        (grrr, blockquote error. Sure wish there were “delete” or “preview” options. Either one, doesn’t matter.)

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  33. Carl says:

    I always wanted a manager to pul his team from the field and just refuse to go on with the game. That would really put things into play.

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  34. Ryan says:

    We – baseball fans, both here and on other outlets – frequently end up in discussions like this, evaluating, fuming over, and bemoaning highly publicized, influential blown calls. And what does this gnashing of teeth accomplish? Nothing, except make us feel either a little bit better that we’re not alone in being angry or even angrier that this is all we can do about it and such screw ups will not only keep happening, but become even more pronounced as camera and display technologies continue to improve while umpires themselves just gain weight and lose visual acuity.

    MLB is accountable to its fans – they may not care about us as individuals, but they most definitely care about the $$ we represent. The protection of bad umpires, resistance to instant replay, and general head-in-the-sand mentality demonstrated when it comes to matters like these is only possible because fans, while we get fired up in the immediate aftermath of events like these, quickly forget and move on. The MLB schedule helps in this regard, since there’s already another game between the two teams affected here well underway. By tomorrow the media storm will die down and instead focus on the latest highlight-reel catch, unlikely comeback, or clubhouse drama… until the next umpiring failure regains the headlines and brings us back to where we are right now.

    Should we, as fans, try something else? Petition? Boycott? Walk out? Why not do something to force MLB brass to at least give more than the same tired, “The decision of the crew chief stands, the human element is part of the game, yada yada yada,” BS they’ve trotted out for decades? Is there a reason this couldn’t be at least somewhat effective? If Bud Selig wants to say that there is no demand among baseball fans to address these issues, why not give him tangible evidence to the contrary?

    And I know that there are purists out there, baseball fans that like the way things are, accept umpire screw ups as part of the game, and don’t want anything to change. That’s fine – they’re entitled to that opinion, just as I’m entitled to disagree. But for those who feel differently, the only chance to force change is to band together, push this in front of MLB, and make it somehow A) an ongoing PR nightmare, B) something that hurts their pocketbook, or C) both.

    Or maybe, as Jeff said earlier, we actually like these screw ups at some level, precisely because they let us fume and watch the replay over and over and mock the system with others who think like us.

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bab says:

      I don’t know man.

      Sports organizations are powerful economic entities. They don’t just employ players, coaches, etc. They also employ equipment managers, trainers, cleaners, horticulturists, architects, manufacturers . . .

      Each game is a small piece in the cumulative value of the brand. If the brand sinks from being jobbed our of wins, and possibly out of postseason revenue a lot can be at stake for the organizations . . .

      I consider this a form of professional failure with deceptively significant impact.

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  35. Dan Greer says:

    Angel Hernandez sees the world in standard-def, so HD video would not help.

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  36. Vegas says:

    So when does umpires potentially gambling on baseball get mentioned here?

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  37. Blofkin says:

    Jeff, FWIW, the umpires did in fact have access to HD quality replays, per Susan Slusser’s tweet:

    Randy Marsh tells me all the umpires’ replay equipment here appears to be working correctly and that the replays are in HD. #Athletics— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) May 9, 2013

    Highly recommend reading through her entire feed, as she’s just covering the hell out of this thing today.

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  38. Dreamin says:

    I don’t know, it’s not really clear from those replays. That railing could easily be 10-15 feet into the field of play. We don’t even know whether that’s the real yellow home run line, or just one some angry fans painted there.

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  39. Jeffrey says:

    Wouldn’t the home run have tied the game? Or am I missing something?

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    • scraps says:

      Every summary of the game I’ve seen says tie game if home run is allowed. So I guess you are missing something, yes.

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  40. craigtfletcher says:

    This was a truly awful call, but perhaps the next most embarassing thing was Mitch Williams talking about how this was a “two game swing”. This completely ignores the fact that A) it had nothing to do with the outcome of the Texas game and B) the A’s would still have been favored to lose by virtue of the fact that Cleveland had two more outs left than Oakland.

    The next most embarassing thing was Harold Reynolds claiming that the reason players don’t have the fundamentals anymore is because everybody is “too busy worrying about walking.” Apparently Michael Bourn is so worried about his OBP that he sometimes simply forgets to go from 1st to 3rd on a single.

    I suppose the next most embarassing thing is that I actually sat and watched that drivel for two hours last night.

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    • scraps says:

      Harold Reynolds, Joe Morgan, Walt Frazier: three players I liked immensely until they opened their yaps.

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  41. AJP says:

    The thing that peeves me the most is MLB’s continual effort to cover for umpires and on top of that the lack of effort given to the team wrong for any type of redemption. Torre released this today:

    “By rule, the decision to reverse a call by use of instant replay is at the sole discretion of the crew chief. In the opinion of Angel Hernandez, who was last night’s crew chief, there was not clear and convincing evidence to overturn the decision on the field. It was a judgment call, and as such, it stands as final.

    “Home and away broadcast feeds are available for all uses of instant replay, and they were available to the crew last night. Given what we saw, we recognize that an improper call was made. Perfection is an impossible standard in any endeavor, but our goal is always to get the calls right. Earlier this morning, we began the process of speaking with the crew to thoroughly review all the circumstances surrounding last night’s decision.”

    It’s become a routine discussion a couple times a year. Yes bad calls are a part of the game, there’s nothing that can be done about that. But the fact we have technology to minimize these effects, still allow them to happen, and absolutely no penalty and or gain to either team blows my mind. We live in the age of technology and information, MLB is only doing a disservice and mocking itself by not fully utilizing the capabilities at hand.

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  42. craigtfletcher says:

    As an Indians fan, I have seen this scenario play out numerous times where the ball hits the railing.

    Why on earth is there a railing? Why can’t there just be a wall that goes up that high and is several feet thick like there is in the rest of the park? The same thing is true at Yankee Stadium. We don’t have the Jeffrey Maier incident without that stupid fence, and I think (please correct if I am wrong) that they built the new park with the same feature.

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  43. KS says:

    The pine tar game is NOT a precedent. Very few fans, or “professional” commentators for that matter, understand basic concepts of sports rules. In this case, it’s the difference between a judgement call and the application of a rule. Judgement calls by on-field officials, in all sports, are always final. Always. And they have to be. Otherwise, it would be impossible to have competitive sports. Instant replay is just a second level of applying judgement to a situation, and when that judgement call is made, it’s final. Judgement, by definition, is not and cannot be perfect.

    On the other hand, if an on-field official incorrectly applies a rule, that is the basis for a protest (in baseball–most sports don’t allow protests), as was the case in the pine tar game. On-field officials are expected to know and correctly apply the rules of their sport. When they don’t, and it potentially affects the outcome of a contest, that mistake can be rectified, at least in baseball. It’s rare, but it happens.

    As for all the hullabaloo about accountability, umpires, like officials in all sports, are reviewed constantly. They are graded constantly. They are promoted and demoted based on these grades (and other factors) constantly. But every time an umpire makes a stupid mistake, lots of people yell for him to be fired. What if every person got fired from their job every time they made a stupid mistake? The economy would come to a grinding halt, because there’d be no-one left to do any job.

    Human being are imperfect, and strange, inexplicable mistakes and mis-perceptions happen all the time, in all kinds of endeavors. It’s just part of the human condition.

    A friend of mine was involved in a major college football game a couple years ago in which a blown call on a scoring kick lead to a team winning when they shouldn’t have. Everyone in the stadium saw the kick miss, but the covering official called it good. Why? Who knows. It happens. And it happens all the time in various human activities, we just pay a lot more attention when it happens during a big sporting event. It should make us all humbler, but it usually doesn’t.

    And, yes, I’m an on-field official, so I have a different take on this than most fans.

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    • scraps says:

      What if every person got fired from their job every time they made a stupid mistake?

      As several people have pointed out, Hernandez has a widespread reputation for being terrible. Not one mistake, but lots of them. Are you saying we can never do anything about this? Nobody gets fired for mistakes? Because that sure sounds like what you’re arguing.

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  44. craigtfletcher says:

    I cannot wait until computers not only run baseball teams, but also officiate the games.

    One of those was sarcastic and one was serious.

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  45. Erik says:

    It’s moments like this that I am reminded of why I am not a fan of replay. The answer has always been to have better umpire accountability. Everything else is just a cover up.

    As others have said, this is not the first replay that umpires have gotten wrong and it wont be the last.

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  46. deacondrake says:

    A few years back, an Angel Hernandez manned crew blew home run calls in CONSECUTIVE GAMES of a Nats/Mets series…. one was a towering shot that hit the facing of the upper deck. Some people just do not want their judgement questioned.

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  47. brendan says:

    this seems pretty clearly a HR from the replays, but oddly, As radio broadcasters (Korach/Cotroneo) thought that it was clearly a double, having hit _on_ the yellow line. They were not surprised with the umpires’ ruling, and _were_ surprised that melvin got tossed arguing the point. Having only caught the end of the game on radio, I had no idea it was so controversial.

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  48. dcmorrin says:

    IMO, each game needs a non-umpire replay official upstairs with monitors and high def feed. It seems to be a likely scenario is that some umpiring crews are more likely than others to overrule their calls on the field and obviously this crew did not understand “inconclusive”. An unbiased opinion from a party that was not involved in making the call is needed.

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  49. DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy says:

    “slippery-slope argument” Thought it was slippery-slop fallacy?

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  50. Stephen says:

    At this point, MLB shouldn’t be concerned with accountability, as to err is human. It should be using this event to accelerate the adoption of newer technologies, like pitchF/X & the Hawkeye system in tennis. It’s ridiculous how often the wrong call is made. Many times a game. Enough is enough — it’s damaging the sport.

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  51. Gareth says:

    For someone who had nothing to say you sure had something to say.

    All I can say is (and I quote Sarah Mcloughlin)

    “In the arms of the Angel, Fly Away from here………….”

    Or stay in the ballpark. And be called a double. whatever.

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  52. Nigel says:

    I think the set up for this article had confused the issue and ignores the Sherlock Holmes concept that once you eliminate what cannot be true then, no matter how unlikely, whatever is left must be true. I think we can all agree that 4 people going into that video review booth cannot have gotten this wrong (stop trying to image how the mistake could have been made). This wasn’t a mistake. This was an intentional decision to get the call wrong. I have no idea why. The possibilities that jump to mind are gambling, a desire to end their shift and go home or an intent to get back at a player or team. I’m sure that there are others. If you think that it is impossible that this decision was an intentional decision to get the call wrong has not been following the gambling stories in soccer and the NBA, or the Ed Rush stories in NCAA basketball or the intentional meddling of Colin Cambell in the NHL refereeing process.

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    • dl80 says:

      Ah, but now you are misapplying that concept. It isn’t literally impossible that all four umpires got it wrong, for all the reasons in the article (bad TVs, bad angles, etc.). It’s extremely unlikely, but not impossible.

      It’s also not impossible that some (or 3) of the umpires saw it as a home run and were overruled or talked out of it.

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      • TheGrandslamwich says:

        Well, bad TV’s and bad angles have been ruled out. They have high-def TV’s as well as the 2 angles that the main broadcasts had, both of which made it very obvious.

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    • Jason B says:

      “I think we can all agree that 4 people going into that video review booth cannot have gotten this wrong (stop trying to image how the mistake could have been made). This wasn’t a mistake. This was an intentional decision to get the call wrong.”

      Like dl80, I disagree with the premise. Maybe a couple of them had some doubt but didn’t want to take on Hernandez and so kept quiet, or maybe they did disagree and got shouted down, etc.

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  53. Rick says:

    I’ve seen so many blown calls by Hernandez over the years, I almost think it’s on purpose.

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    • Hurtlockertwo says:

      Proof??

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      • Rick says:

        This is a different Rick than myself (the one who you thought you were responding too).
        And if you want proof, you should google search “bad calls from angel hernandez” – it’s actually quite an impressive resume Angel Hernandez has, and the endless links of hate for Angel Hernandez is actually rather entertaining.

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      • Jason B says:

        No, proof that they were intentionally blown, I’m sure he meant. Yes, Angel has had more than his fair share of bad ones.

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  54. Mike says:

    I don’t see how they could fine Hernandez for blowing the call; at least unless the other umpires all tell the league that they disagreed and said it was a home run but Angel refused to change the call because of ego or something. People make mistakes, and some people make more than others. Angel is one of those who make more than others, and seems to be clearly incompetent. In light of this call and the Aybar strike call in the WBC, maybe he has gone completely blind, as opposed to just having poor eyesight as evidenced by his prior history of blown calls?

    His history of horrible calls leaves no other conclusion than that he is not up to the job. Worse still, he is arrogant, refuses to admit mistakes, and takes no ownership of his actions. Sometimes enough is enough, and people need to be let go. But since MLB still employs CB Bucknor I doubt Angel needs to worry about his job.

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  55. Keith says:

    Hey Jeff, here’s how I got downvoted into oblivion over on Reddit last night after it happened:

    Someone linked the video from the A’s broadcast. I watched it a few times, and my take was that it deflected off the yellow line on the face of the wall. There’s a point at which there’s a darker shadow around the ball as it passes the yellow line that looks like a point of impact.

    While I was watching, I was focused only on the yellow line. I had no concept of there being a railing above the line, that the ball may have struck that first and bounced in front of the wall, all I saw was the ball coming into view, then deflecting downward from the yellow line.

    Once a friendly redditor pointed out that I should look to the railing, it became very clear that the ball changed direction very sharply after it hit the railing, and that the ball passed in front of the wall without making contact.

    If you had four guys in the room doing the same exact thing I did, it’s not hard to see where they made their mistake.

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    • Synovia says:

      Its pretty damn clear as a 3″x2″ GIF, so I’m pretty sure a 19″ highdef monitor isn’t a problem.

      If doctors can read xrays on a monitor that size, umps shouldn’t have a problem.

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  56. Aaron Steindler says:

    Alright guys, be careful what you say. Most, if not, all of us have screwed up before at something, but we’re fortunate to not be on national television. I have never liked his strike zone, and I thought that his zone was way too big last night, but the big blown call is not all on him. 3 other umpires must have seen the same thing, so don’t put it all on him. I think this “anthrax in coffee” waitress is a bit out of hand. And many people would lose their jobs if we look only at their worst day on the job. Think Jim Joyce should lose his job, too? Not many people want to umpire because the pay is not that good. It’s a tough job where people blame you all the time.

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    • Scraps says:

      Every one of those weary arguments has been said up there several times, and been refuted, and on and on. Did you read the thread you are supposedly commenting on?

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    • Scraps says:

      Not many people want to umpire because the pay is not that good.

      Especially that. Albert commented:

      Major league umps make ~400k a year with outstanding benefits (hundred-plus per diems).

      So, well, I’d take that pay.

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    • Poor poor umpire says:

      Yeah brilliant point, who would want to make “only” 350K a year? MLB umpires are so devastatingly underpaid.

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      • Wobatus says:

        That’s the top pay. They start out at $120k, after years of working their way up, get yelled at by tobacco-spewing idiots, trashed by fans, universally reviled, second-guessed, constant travel. No thanks.

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  57. l1ay says:

    Someone please help me who’s call this officially was, the second base umpire (Hernandez) or the third base umpire?

    Either way, we already know Hernandez has one of the worst reputations as far as his ego and wanting to insert himself front-and-center into the game and he shows no remorse for it.

    Based on that, the easiest explanation is that he refused to overturn over his call (or the third base umpire’s call) simply because he, on behalf of himself or his crew, couldn’t admit he got the original call wrong.

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  58. Synovia says:

    ” It is worth remembering that Hernandez didn’t make this decision on his own, that several eyes were watching the slow-motion replay. It was a group decision to keep Rosales at second base, so the other umpires shouldn’t be ignored.”

    Hernandez was the crew chief. He’s the only one whose opinion matters, as he can overrule the other three. So, there’s absolutely no evidence that it was a group decision.

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  59. Ben B says:

    Here’s what I’ve come to believe:

    – Every decision Bud Selig makes is viewed through a single prism: revenue

    – Improving instant replay would cost money, at a time when revenues are at an all-time high. Where’s the motivation?

    – What’s required is for someone to launch a massive social media campaign to encourage people to boycott games until instant replay is dramatically improved.

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    • Ben B says:

      Here’s my attempt to launch a “social-media campaign” myself.

      After waiting years for MLB to take action, we, the fans, are forced to take action to save the game we love from becoming a joke. We refuse to attend games when outcomes are so often affected by bad calls. Please fix your instant-replay problem, MLB. Until then, we’re staying away from the ballpark.

      Please spread the word. We can make this happen!

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  60. FLuckeye says:

    I think Angel Hernandez holds an ace. Because he the butt of so much malcontent from players, fans and managers alike…and he KNOWS it…if MLB cans him, he is gonna tell every, single, dirty little secret that Bud and MLB hold. We, as fans, know SQUAT about how baseball runs and what is behind those closet doors. Angel knows. And he will sing, sing, sing his evil little heart out.

    That is why he will never be fired. Bud will never do it.

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  61. kent says:

    I was watching the A’s broadcast live, and I couldn’t tell until they showed the replay and zoomed in. The question I have is did the umpires have this zoomed in shot. Did anyone ask the umpires this? If they did, there is no excuse. If they didn’t, I would have to ask why.

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    • l1ay says:

      Look for the thing that sounds out most in an article filled mostly of words, maybe a JPEG of a twitter post.. I don’t know.

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  62. Michael Porter says:

    I say institute a control center like the NHL does. Rather than investing in a review mechanism for each stadium, let the umpires communicate to the control center, where they can have ridiculously large monitors in the best definition available, where they can have so many monitors to look at something from different angles and whatnot. They could have a dozen eyes looking at it simultaneously. It’s a much better idea than relying on the umpires and technology at the stadiums if you ask me.

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  63. JeremyR says:

    Angel Hernandez is pretty much the worst umpire in baseball, long before this. In any other business, he would have been fired for incompetence long before.

    If there is no penalty for bad performance, then bad performance will continue.

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    • Jason B says:

      I’m not arguing the call was correct, or that Hernandez doesn’t seem to screw up a LOT, or that he shouldn’t be disciplined; but there are lots of other businesses where mediocre-to-worse performance is tolerated or not disciplined (unfortunately). I think we all know people who contribute little to nothing, ride the clock, cause problems for coworkers, and generally force all those around them to have to pull a little harder to make up for their dead weight. Some industries reward good performance and discipline the bad, but others seem more insular.

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  64. Jake says:

    RE: He just…inexplicably didn’t see something

    Maybe I’m a bit harsh, but his job requires him to be able to see things on a somewhat regular basis. If he can’t see something, he shouldn’t be considered qualified for his job.

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  65. Justin Bailey says:

    Maybe it wasn’t Hernandez, but Frank Drebin in disguise.

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    • Frank D. says:

      ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….strike?

      *Loud roar from the crowd*

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  66. Bill says:

    Hernandez is the worst, he constantly screws the rays to the point where it’s obvious he has either a) a grudge or b) he bets on games. Someone needs to do regular investigating on these umpires.

    Marty Foster is another douchebag.

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    • coreyerb says:

      You can’t tell from the fact this isn’t from a Rays game, or the countless anecdotes from other teams’ fans that he clearly doesn’t discriminate when doling out his rubbish calls? He’s like the Oprah of bad calls – everybody gets one.

      The betting accusation would be worth looking into but there’s a lack of serious investigative sports journalism (plus it’d be difficult to find out more than just comparing his calls to the betting lines of games). If MLB and the union haven’t found anything suspect, he’s probably good at covering it up, has some other reason for them to want to continue his employment … or just stubborn and bad at his job.

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  67. SteveJ says:

    The instant replay monitor used is high resolution and I think we have to conclude that all 3 umpires saw that it was a home run. One umpire remains on the field during these reviews. The crew chief, Hernandez, can overrule the other two and all crews prefer unanimity to overturn in any event. It was likely Hernandez who kept the original call in force.

    Peter Gammon’s has a theory that Angel Hernandez upheld the call because he doesn’t like instant replay. Gammon’s theory is plausible because he admits what must be admitted. This is a case of dishonesty, not incompetency. Angel Hernandez lied about what he saw for reasons unknown. Gammon’s theory supplies a possible reason.

    The NFL coin-flip incident involved a referee misunderstanding what a player said. In order for it to be analogous to this situation, the coin would have had to have landed heads for all to see, and the referee would have needed to call tails — which didn’t happen.

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