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Angel Hernandez: The MLB’s Most Controversial Umpire

Angel Hernandez is an MLB umpire with a reputation for inconsistency and high-profile missed calls. His presence behind home plate often draws groans from players, managers, and fans alike. Yet, despite widespread criticism, Hernandez remains employed by Major League Baseball. So, why hasn’t he been fired, and what makes his situation so complex?

A History of Terrible Calls

Angel Hernandez has been involved in numerous questionable and outright incorrect calls throughout his career. Some notable examples include:

  • Ejecting Players and Managers: Hernandez is known for a quick trigger when it comes to ejections. He’s tossed stars like Bryce Harper over relatively minor disagreements.
  • Inconsistent Strike Zone: Hernandez’s strike zone appears to shift not only from game to game but within the same game. This inconsistency creates frustration for pitchers and hitters.
  • Missed Calls on the Bases: From blown calls on routine ground balls to incorrect judgments on close plays at the plate, Hernandez has a history of errors on the basepaths.

Fans and Players Demand Change

The backlash against Hernandez is widespread. Online tracking tools like Umpire Auditor detail Hernandez’s missed calls, amplifying the public outcry. Players and managers have voiced their frustration publicly, creating pressure on the MLB to take action.

Why MLB Can’t Simply Fire Hernandez

There’s a key reason Hernandez remains employed – the MLB Umpires Association. Here’s how the union protects him:

  • Collective Bargaining Agreement: The union has a strong contract with the MLB, making it difficult to fire umpires without significant cause.
  • Lawsuits: Hernandez has previously sued MLB, alleging racial discrimination. This makes the MLB more cautious about taking action against him.
  • Union Solidarity: Any disciplinary action against Hernandez could trigger a response from the wider union, potentially leading to work stoppages or other disruptions.

The Path Forward – What Can Change?

There are potential solutions to the Angel Hernandez situation:

  • Technological Solutions: The implementation of automated ball-strike systems (“robo umps”) could eliminate the need for human judgment behind the plate.
  • Accountability and Transparency: The MLB could implement a more rigorous review system for umpires, with clear consequences for consistent poor performance.
  • Negotiation and Compromise: The MLB and the Umpires Association could re-negotiate their contract to include provisions for performance-based discipline or termination.

In Conclusion

The Angel Hernandez case highlights the tension between MLB’s desire for quality officiating and the strength of umpire union protections. Until the league and the union find common ground, or technology changes the game fundamentally, it’s likely that fans will continue to see Hernandez behind the plate, for better or worse.

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