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Voice of the 'Fan

An Angel without wings

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This was posted first on one of my personal blogs off-site earlier this morning. Edited because the photo that was included didn't transmit in transition:
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Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins shredded the officials after Memphis lost to Minnesota on Saturday, calling the NBA zebras "inconsistent" and "arrogant".

Jenkins has never met baseball umpire Angel Hernandez.

With the retirement of occasional crew-mate Joe West after last season, Hernandez is easily the most polarizing and unpopular arbiter in baseball. This is the man, remember, who threatened to file suit against MLB a few years ago for perceived discrimination against Latino umpires such as himself. After Sunday's Brewers-Phillies game on ESPN, Hernandez, an equal opportunity offender, made the NBA refs look like amateurs.

A fair number of umpires often have floating strike zones in that they'll call strikes as they see fit, not as it's mandated in the rule book. Hernandez is definitely in that category. Several strikeout calls against both teams were relatively inaccurate, a few inches outside the zone. It came to a head in the home 9th, with Philadelphia down, 1-0. Kyle Schwarber thought he'd drawn a walk against Brewer closer Josh Hader. Nope. Hernandez called strike three.

Schwarber spiked his bat and helmet to the ground, clearly frustrated. Hernandez, of course, ejected Schwarber on the spot. Hernandez's attitude was one of, my word is final. Deal with it. He exudes arrogance behind the plate. It wouldn't be so bad if you consider that he's interpreting his call as if to say the ball still crossed the imaginary box between the letters on the uniform shirt and the batter's knees, regardless of how outside the zone the batter perceives it to be.
Hernandez has heard the criticism from players, managers, team management, and media plenty of times in his career, but he's not going to change the way he does things. He quietly craves the spotlight when it's his night to call balls & strikes. We'll be hearing about his misplaced strike zone again and again before the season is over.

And he's giving his fellow Latino umps a bad rep.


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