If I gave you one guess as to which umpire was involved in the most controversial call and most heated argument with a player or manager on Friday night, odds are you would have given the correct answer without a second thought: Angel Hernandez.
It's almost too easy. The oft-criticized umpire, even before he famously botched a game-changing home run review in Cleveland earlier this season, couldn't avoid the limelight if he wanted to, and we're pretty much convinced he doesn't want to.
The play in question this time happened in the second inning of the Blue Jays 7-6 win over the Orioles on Friday night with the league's leading home run hitter Chris Davis at the plate against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. On the 1-2 pitch, Davis appears to swing and miss for a strikeout, but the ball squirts away from catcher Josh Thole and Davis takes off for first. That's a sure sign Davis knows he missed the ball, but Angel Hernandez quickly rules foul ball, which if you listen closely you can hear a distinctive tick sound before the ball hit the ground, but that was obviously Thole's glove.
Anyway, Jays manager John Gibbons immediately argued the call first and foremost because it was wrong, and perhaps also because it gets frustrating when Hernandez decides to call something he didn't see. That actually led to an umpire huddle and a reversal of Hernandez's call. Congratulations to the crew for getting it right, but this overturn obviously drew the ire of O's manager Buck Showalter, and he elected to take out his frustrations out on the umpire who blew it originally, Mr. Hernandez.
What followed was a classic Buck Showalter meltdown that easily ranks as the most entertaining we've seen from a manager this season. It's definitely worth sticking around for the entire video just to watch Showalter's anger slowly build and finally erupt, but it's difficult to enjoy it completely knowing we again have Angel Hernandez authoring a messy situation.
And yes, I realize the most important thing is ultimately getting the call right. The crew got that part as a crew, which I applaud. But essentially blowing a play dead based on something you heard and didn't see is the fastest way to an officiating disaster. It doesn't matter the sport, you have to see it to call it. The result of the play likely doesn't change if Hernandez let's it play out. Davis was out at first by a wide margin. But the real issues are still Hernandez's instincts, form and his execution. All are lousy and not improving.
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