The New York Yankees had a very bad day in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, getting the dirty water beaten out of them by the Boston Red Sox with an astonishing 16-1 score.
But the team didn’t even have the worst night of anyone who was at Yankee Stadium on Monday night.
That dubious dishonor goes to the worst official in baseball and possibly in all of sports, umpire Angel Hernandez.
Hernandez worked first base in the playoff contest, and he managed to swing and miss three times in the first four innings, seeing his efforts to channel Don Denkinger overturned by replay on all three occasions and proving why replay is a necessary element of modern sports.
For his first foul-up, Didi Gregorious was out by about half a step on a sacrifice bunt that nearly fooled pitcher Nate Eovaldi.
That one’s kind of a bang-bang play, so maybe you could give Hernandez the benefit of the doubt; those plays are always fast-paced and nobody’s perfect, which is why they have replay for them in the first place.
And at least Hernandez can’t be accused of bias, because on another play, the New York’s Gleyber Torres was safe at first base, barely beating a bad throw on a grounder up the middle, but Hernandez called him out initially.
The third missed call, though — the ump gets all of the doubt and none of the benefit for missing this one as badly as he did.
Gregorious beat the throw on the double play. He was safer than a baby in a cradle. And yet Hernandez called him out.
The replay on that one was so fast that you got the sense that the replay officials involved were wondering if they shouldn’t just assume at this point that every call Hernandez made was the wrong one.
Hernandez has a terrible reputation around Major League Baseball. His failures are the stuff of legend, and with 14 calls overturned on 18 challenges in the last three regular seasons, that’s enough of a sample size and enough of a deviation (78 percent vs. 60 percent league average) from the normal expected outcome to invoke Hanlon’s razor:
“Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.”
Over the last 3 regular seasons, an Angel Hernandez call as 1B umpire went to replay review 18 times
The call was overturned 14 times (78% of time)
Overturn rate during that time is 60% – so he's not massively above the norm- but he is above it
— Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) October 9, 2018
It is long past time for MLB to stop putting Hernandez on umpiring crews in playoff games.
He’s not crooked — if all three missed calls had gone in the favor of one of the teams, you might be able to level that accusation, but that’s not what happened here.
But the integrity of the game depends on trusting the officials to consistently make the right calls even on the ones close enough to merit going to the replay, and Hernandez just can’t be reliably counted upon to meet that minimum standard.
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