Does Lightning-rod Umpire Angel Hernandez Deserve His Villainous Reputation?


Baseball fans and critics alike often discuss the performance of umpires almost as much as they do players, with umpire Angel Hernandez frequently finding himself at the center of such conversations. Hernandez has been an MLB umpire since 1993, and he has developed a reputation that includes both controversy and accusations of inconsistency. This article delves into whether Angel Hernandez deserves the villainous reputation that he has garnered over the years.

Critics of Angel Hernandez often point to his performance during games. There have been multiple instances where his strike zone is described as erratic, leading to frustration among players, coaches, and fans. One notable example was a 2018 ALDS game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, where Hernandez had three calls at first base overturned by replay review. Incidents like these contribute to the perception that Hernandez’s umpiring is unreliable.

Another factor feeding into this reputation is Hernandez’s history with the MLB in terms of legal disputes. In 2017, he filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, alleging racial discrimination for not being selected for World Series games and not being promoted to crew chief. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but it kept Hernandez in a contentious spotlight.

On the defense of Hernandez, some argue that the job of an umpire is incredibly challenging and that mistakes are part of human nature. Umpiring requires split-second decisions on plays that are not always clear-cut, even with technological assistance. Furthermore, there is an adage in baseball that suggests if fans know an umpire’s name, they likely have made some notable mistakes—umpires who blend into the background are often those who perform their duties without incident.

However, public scrutiny is particularly intense for Hernandez. Every erroneous call further cements his reputation among those who see him as a “villain” of the sport. Aside from his disputed calls on the field, he is also seen as confrontational—a trait that doesn’t endear him to players or fans.

When viewed within this context, it appears that Angel Hernandez’s status as a lightning-rod umpire is not unfounded. His actions have garnered attention and sparked debates about consistency and fairness in baseball officiating. While it may be debated whether he deserves a “villainous” label as personal animosity seems excessive towards someone performing a professional role—the consensus suggests that his track record does stand out in comparison to his peers.

In summary, while some of the criticism towards Angel Hernandez could be considered harsh given the inherent difficulties in umpiring, the frequency of controversial calls associated with him amplifies his negative reception among baseball enthusiasts. Whether or not this amounts to a villainous reputation perhaps says more about sports culture’s relationship with error than it does about any one person’s failings. Nonetheless, considering evidence from both sides suggests Angel Hernandez has indeed earned a unique notoriety within Major League Baseball.


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