Angel Hernandez Altercation in Battle of The Bay Tuesday Highlights Need For Umpire Discipline

One of the stories in Tuesday night’s game in Oakland was the inconsistency of Angel Hernandez’s strike zone, which was also mixed in with a questionable balk call that led to the ejection of Jean Machi.

For years, major league umpires have had the mindset that they can get away with anything, because they’re the authority figure on the field.  Over the past several years, there have been numerous incidents involving umpires, such as Hernandez, Joe West, Bob Davidson, C.B. Bucknor, Doug Eddings and many others.  They were used to getting away with their antics.

Then, in 2012, Bob Davidson was suspended for a profanity-laced, nose-to-nose screaming match he had with Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel.  It seemed to have sent the umpires a message, and that message was they weren’t invincible.  It had an effect.  Angel Hernandez, who had averaged over five ejections per-year the previous six seasons, did not eject a single person in uniform that season.  Joe West had no less than six ejections per year over the previous six years, and he only ejected two in 2012.

However, there are some umpires that still didn’t get the message, and they were properly disciplined.  In 2013, Tom Hallion was fined for an altercation with Tampa Bay Rays pitcher and 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price, and just a week-and-a-half later, crew chief Fieldin Culbreth was suspended for two games when his entire crew failed to interpret a pitching change rule correctly.

For years, Angel Hernandez has been regarded as one of baseball’s worst umpires by players.  In the middle of the 2011 season, Major League Baseball moved him to another crew after he and Joe West combined for a high ejection rate leading up to the all-star break.  In May 2013, he was under scrutiny after he ruled that a ball hit by Adam Rosales did not leave the park when it clearly did, despite looking at the replay.  Major League Baseball executive vice president Joe Torre, who oversees the umpires, called it an “improper call.”

After Machi began to argue a balk call by Hernandez in the eighth inning Tuesday night, Hernandez walked towards the mound and confronted Machi, and then Buster Posey got in-between the two of them.  Posey’s only intent was to separate Machi and Hernandez, but Hernandez became more irate after Posey unintentionally made contact with Hernandez, who then put his finger on Posey’s chest protector and said “don’t push me.”

If Davidson was suspended for a shouting match, and if Culbreth was suspended for the misinterpretation of a rule, then there is no doubt that Angel Hernandez should be suspended for intentionally touching Posey’s chest protector.