You may remember the old axiom about Major League Baseball umpires: if you know the guy’s name, that’s probably not a good sign.
Arguably, no umpire falls into that category more than Angel Hernandez, an umpire who is watched during games as closely as the teams whose fates he too frequently bungles. You may recall, though, that despite all that, Hernandez is suing Major League Baseball, alleging discrimination in him not receiving a World Series assignment since 2005, and has never been made a permanent crew chief. Hernandez, who is Cuban-born, has been an umpire since 1993, and initially sued in 2017. He lost that suit at the district court level on summary judgment, which he then appealed.
In a response to that appeal, Major League Baseball dropped the hammer in a court filing (ESPN):
In its reply brief on Wednesday, MLB wrote that Joe Torre, then chief baseball officer, selected Hernandez for the AL Division Series in 2018 “with the intention of providing him an opportunity to umpire in the World Series that year.”
“Hernandez did not capitalize on that opportunity and did not rise to the occasion,” MLB wrote. “This was the first time since the advent of expanded instant replay in 2014 that an umpire had three calls overturned in a postseason game. Based on his performance during that Division Series playoff game, Torre was not confident in Hernandez’s ability to perform effectively on an even more intense stage, and for this reason did not select him for the World Series that season.”
WOW. In effect, MLB is saying, yeah, you were about to get a World Series assignment, but then you put together a historically bad game, and that was that.
The ESPN article cites other claims from MLB’s response, including Hernandez’s proclivity to escalate on-field situations, his refusal to recognize his mistakes, and lying about a misapplication of the substitution rule in 2019.
In other words, MLB is claiming – with specific examples – that Hernandez has not received additional opportunities because he has been bad at his job, not because of discrimination.