Yankees starter CC Sabathia and umpire Ángel Hernández don’t get along very well. In late April, Sabathia had a frustrating start in which he barked at Hernández, “Don’t talk to me. Call f–king strikes!”
As fate would have it, Hernández was behind the plate calling balls and strikes for Sabathia’s ALDS Game 4 start against the Red Sox on Tuesday night. If the Yankees lost, they would be eliminated from the postseason and the Red Sox would move on to the ALCS to face the Astros.
In Hernández’s defense, his ball- and strike-calling was decent and didn’t impact Sabathia’s lack of success in Game 4. Of course there were a few debatable calls but there are always a few no matter who the umpire is, and none came in high-leverage situations. Sabathia served up a three-spot in the third inning before departing. Overall, he gave up the three runs on five hits and two walks with one strikeout on 59 pitches.
After the game, Sabathia went off on Hernández. Per Newsday’s Tim Healey, Sabathia said, “He’s absolutely terrible. He was terrible behind the plate today. He was terrible at first base. It’s amazing how he’s getting jobs umpiring in these playoff games.”
More from Sabathia, per Healey:
More CC Sabathia on Angel Hernandez: “He shouldn’t be anywhere near these playoff games.”
“He’s bad. I don’t understand why he’s doing these games.”
“It’s sad that he’s doing these games. It’s crazy.”
“He’s always bad. He’s a bad umpire.”
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) October 10, 2018
Paired with his subpar showing as a first base umpire in Game 3, it hasn’t been a great couple of days for Hernández. He has long been one of baseball’s least popular umpires. Even in just in the last two years, we have covered Sabathia, Anthony Rizzo, and Ian Kinsler taking issue with Hernández. Former players Chipper Jones and Paul LoDuca were among the players tweeting along with Game 3 last night and using the opportunity to criticize Hernández. And if the responses I saw to my post last night are any indication, he doesn’t have very many supporters among baseball fans, either.
All this being said, Sabathia probably could’ve picked a better time to gripe about Hernández. Doing so immediately after one’s team has been eliminated from the postseason will make it seem like he’s just salty about losing and looking to lash out. Sabathia could have also phrased his concerns in a more diplomatic way if he were actually concerned with getting better umpiring crews for the playoffs.
When Rick Porcello, who opposed Sabathia in Game 4, caught wind of Sabathia’s comments, he said (via James Wagner of the New York Times), “Throw the ball over the plate C.C. I thought Ángel Hernández called a good game. You gotta out the ball over the white part of the plate and then you get the strikes called.”