If you watched until the end of Boston’s 16-1 win over the Yankees in Game 3, you are either a masochist or a Red Sox fan. But the game was at least a few minutes longer than it needed to be, thanks to umpire Angel Hernandez flipping a coin to decide bang-bang plays at first.
In just the first four innings, four different plays at first base were challenged—two by each team, and all plays involving Yankees runners. Three of the four plays were overturned upon review.
That last one is baffling.
There are two angles to this. The first is that replay is and remains a good thing, because getting a call right matters more than anything. I shudder to think of all the bang-bang plays throughout history where umpires just basically guessed, and no one had any recourse. (Don Denkinger nods. Jim Joyce puts an arm around his shoulder.)
The second angle is that Angel Hernandez is Angel Hernandez. Consistently voted by players as one of baseball’s worst umps, Hernandez came in for a panning from former MLBers last night. Pedro Martinez, on TBS’s studio show, said “he’s as bad as there is.” Then there’s this:
In July 2017, the Cuban-born Hernandez filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against MLB, claiming he had been passed over for promotions and assignments because of a personal feud with Joe Torre. Since then, Hernandez has been selected to work an All-Star Game and both postseasons.
It is difficult to quantify Hernandez’s (or any umpire’s) accuracy via the stats on challenges, because those stats comprise a number of factors, many of them out of an umpire’s hands. Sports Info Solutions’ Mark Simon presented the numbers on Hernandez’s challenged calls at first, so take from them what you will:
Hernandez did not talk to the media after Game 3, but MLB issued a statement:
“There were several very close calls at first base tonight, and we are glad that instant replay allowed the umpiring crew to achieve the proper result on all of them.”
Hernandez will be behind the plate for tonight’s Game 4.