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How umpire Angel Hernandez affected the AL side of the post-season

Sep 29, 2013, 7:05 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics v Cleveland Indians Getty Images

At ESPN Sweet Spot, David Schoenfield reminds us of a controversial, and wrong, call made by umpire Angel Hernandez that we now know has had a tangible impact on the AL side of the post-season.

On May 8, the Indians played host to the Athletics at Progressive Field. They led 4-3 with two outs in the top of the ninth and closer Chris Perez was ready to nail down another save. Shortstop Adam Rosales hit a fly ball to deep left-center and it appeared to hit off of a metal railing above the yellow line atop the fence, but Hernandez ruled it a double. The umpires conferred, left the field to review the tape, and did not overturn their incorrect call. The Athletics couldn’t get Rosales home and the Indians won 4-3.

We now know the Indians earned top billing in the AL Wild Card game with a 5-1 victory this afternoon. Acknowledging the butterfly effect, all other things being equal, the Indians would have entered today’s action tied with the Rays and Rangers for the two Wild Card spots rather than having control of the first spot by one game. Their victory today, along with those by the Rays and Rangers, would have sent the three teams into two extra games to decide the winners rather than one, and the Indians might not have been hosting at home.

  1. flamethrower101 - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    Your move, Bud Selig. Oh…

    Bug: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…

    Sorry

  2. dbldmr - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    …and if the dog hadn’t stopped by the side of the road to take a crap he would have caught the rabbit.

  3. NatsLady - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    If your season depends on one call by one umpire, you haven’t played well enough over 162 (or 163) games. It’s different in a single game (WC or tie-breaker) or in a short series. But over the long haul, nope, not buying it.

    • Glenn - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:06 PM

      I agree. So many things happen over a long season that you really can’t pick out one bad call and say that was the deciding factor. I’m sure Cleveland was involved in plenty of bad calls that went for and against them.

  4. tolbuck - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    In order to make this a controversy you have to assume the Tribe would have lost the game. That is a mighty big assumption, particularly since the Tribe was at home and would have had an opportunity to score the winning run had the homer counted.

    • clydeserra - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:46 PM

      but they had already used perez and the A’s you may note, had a good bullpen at the time

      • Kevin Gillman - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:14 PM

        But the A’s were struggling at the time, and the Indians were red hot. There never was a guarantee A’s would have won the game then.

  5. kruegere - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    The Cleveland Indians also played almost a 3rd of their schedule against teams who lost more than 90 games this year.

    • Kevin Gillman - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      And nobody else did? Last time I checked, there were 3 AL Central teams that were over .500, and they PLAYED THE SAME DAMN SCHEDULE!!!!

      • djpostl - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:40 PM

        Lol. Laughably stupid argument. The AL Central rated out as 2d weakest division all of baseball (you throw out divisional record and only look at their records vs non-division teams).

        So saying “well, everyone in that division got play against the same crappy teams” is obtuse.

        What it DOES show is they got to beat up on some craptastic teams who could do nothing more than beat the bad teams in their division more often than not.

        The Tigers are a very good team, Cleveland and KC are nothing more than bottom feeders who took advantage of some REALLY bad teams in Chi and Min 19 times each.

        Cleveland was a paltry 27-46 vs the teams that were in contetion w/ a week to go (Bos, NYY, Bal, TB, Det, Tex, Oak).

        KC played Min, Sea and CWS in 20 of last 40 games, making a nice little push to pad their record and was better than Cle vs the contending teams in that they were right at .500 (when you add Cle into that mix above).

        Anyway you cut it, over the course of the 162 game season the AL Central was really weak against everyone but themselves.

      • Kevin Gillman - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:11 PM

        Yet the Royals have the best pitching staff in baseball, and if the AL Central was so WEAK then why is the AL West have 3 very bad teams? Texas played Seattle, Los Angeles, and Houston a combined 57 games. Oakland dominated Houston, and Seattle. Yet through all of that, the Tigers are the defending American League champs, and until they are beaten, which might not happen, they are still the favorites to win it all.

        You talk about the Indians record against the other top teams, and while I won’t discount that, THEY have a manager that knows how to win, and they have one that has 2 rings. Besides Bruce Bochy, who else can say this in this modern baseball world? What I am saying here is you throw out the records in the regular season, and you face these teams head on. If Indians lose, fine, but they are far from a bad team. If I recall, Indians were facing a strong Yankees team in 2007 that dominated the Indians in the regular season, finished 6-1 against them and everyone was saying the Indians didn’t belong on the same field, and had no chance. What happened? Indians won series 3-1, and even played the very last postseason game at old Yankee Stadium. That just proves that you do whatever you can to get into the postseason, and anything can happen.

        Were the Giants the best team last season? No, but they damn sure were the hottest, and it proved it by winning the whole thing.

        Indians deserve this spot, and we will see what happens.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:00 PM

        Wow, yeah, it’s so impressive that the A’s division schedule wasn’t stacked with losers like the Astros and Mariners. How great would their record be then?

      • Reflex - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:06 PM

        To be fair, the A’s beat the East 17-15 and absolutely spanked the Central 22-12, so they were legitimately good regardless of opponent. By comparison the Tigers had the same record against the East (17-15) as the A’s, but only played .500 ball against the West (17-17). Their lead was built almost entirely on their own division.

        Of the playoff teams this year, the A’s and Red Sox would have dominated any division they were in, the Tigers I am not so certain could have dominated anyone but the Central, it likely would have been close at least.

        The interesting thing to me is that Cleveland owned the West with a 25-8 record, but was beaten pretty badly in the East at 12-21. I’m not certain there is enough of a sample size to really say based on these results who was the best were they all playing an equal number of games against all other teams.

      • Kevin Gillman - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:26 PM

        Tigers won the Central because they went 14-5 against the Indians. But Tigers pound for pound have the best starting pitching in baseball. Max Scherzer should be the Cy Young this season, Anibal Sanchez won the ERA Title, and is a very good pitcher, and there is Justin Verlander, not to mention Doug Fister. Those four right there will dominate any offense, and it could come to the bullpen, which might be their weakness. But like you said, Indians dominated the West, like no other team in baseball. They went 5-1 against the Rangers, and 5-2 against the A’s. They match up well against them, on paper. But at the end of the day, the postseason ios a different beast for any team.

      • Reflex - Sep 30, 2013 at 2:53 AM

        Chris Sale and Hisashi Iwakuma both had better overall seasons than Scherzer. Max had one hell of a year, but those two were objectively better. I’d also say Felix and Darvish were in the conversation. Oddly enough, José Quintana had a great season as well according to bWAR, I had not noticed him at all till I looked it up.

      • Kevin Gillman - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        While all of those guys had great seasons, I would be Max gets the Cy Young. Darvish might beat him, but I just think Max would get it. We will see though.

      • petertfl - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:17 AM

        The Mariners won the season series over Oakland 11-8, wouldn’t say Oakland dominated them.

      • Kevin Gillman - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        My apologies, but I do know they dominated the Astros, and I think they did very well against Angels.

      • adross47 - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        Luckily there is something called a playoff system that determines the best team in each league

      • Kevin Gillman - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:23 PM

        While that might be true, it doesn’t neccessarily mean a team that is in the playoffs are one of the best. It means they are one of the hottest teams. For example, Boston surely is a better team than the Indians, but as hot as Indians are, they have a chance if they get there.

      • Reflex - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:30 AM

        1, 5 and 7 game playoff series are not nearly as accurate at determining who is ‘best’ as a 162 game season.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:30 AM

        Reflex, why are you making this Tigers v. A’s? This thread wasn’t even about that and I didn’t mention it. Are you trying to troll me? I think you missed my point — which was NOT to insult the A’s or claim that the Tigers are superior. I was merely responding to the contention that teams in the Central had good numbers because they had two teams to beat up on. I was pointing out that this was true of the West as well, so it’s a bad argument. I was busy yesterday, so I didn’t have a chance to address the other contention that because the Indians have bad numbers against the teams with the best records, that somehow makes them “bottom feeders.” Of course, a lot of other teams also didn’t have fabulous records against the playoff teams, but a number of them didn’t get a WC spot like Cleveland — so I don’t think you could call them bottom feeders based on that “evidence.” I would put up numbers on that, but I was too busy for the research (and am again today, bah!).

        So, stop pulling my pigtails. You don’t have to troll my Tigers to get me to talk to you. ;)

  6. beefytrout - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    If the Rangers had gone a crappy 7-13 instead of a miserable 5-15 in September, the conversation is moot anyways.

    Shit happens. It’s baseball.

  7. offseasonblues - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    It’s been fun scoreboard watching the last few days.

    I think the point is that every game matters and now, with the addition of the second wild card, perhaps every game matters a little more to more teams.

    If the things that decided any given game were umpire calls, then MLB needs to do all it can to have those calls be right. A challenge system isn’t going to get that done.

    Next season at this time the post will be about a challenge that might have allowed a team to win a WC spot but couldn’t be made because a previous challenge had been lost.

  8. robocallsplz - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    If the A’s had won that game, and if the Red Sox actually tried to win today but still lost, they would be tied with the best record in the AL. Tie breaker would go to the A’s for home field advantage. A lot of if’s, but it is sad that a single blown call could have such a potential effect.

    • Kevin Gillman - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:18 PM

      BUT IT DIDN’T!!!! Look, I respect the A’s, they had an incredible run, and I have enjoyed watching them this season, but there is NEVER a guarantee the A’s would have won that game. That HR just tied the game, it never, EVER gave the A’s a lead at the time. So what if the Indians would have won in the bottom of the 9th? And considering, that would have given them 12 walk-offs, instead of 11. My gawd…..THOSE BASTARDS.

  9. Senor Cardgage - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    People like to say that games early in the season count the same as games in the final month, which is a load of bull. Teams in all sports everywhere (except maybe college football) play to the score and the standings. You acknowledge the butterfly effect and then dismiss it out of hand, something you simply cannot do for an event that long ago (especially when there’s no guarantee the A’s would have won that game if the call had been correct).

    • djpostl - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:42 PM

      Is that you Angel?

  10. Kevin Gillman - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    Hey Bill, please reply to this post, if you have time. Because I want to have your take on this….

    That HR that Perez gave up to Rosales was a TYING run. Let me repeat this, a TYING run. People just assume the Athletics would have won that game, but yet they might not have, because A. The Indians were red hot at the time, and the Athletics were not, and B. They were the home team, they always would have had the last at bat anyways.

    In other words, the Athletics still won the AL West, so it didn’t affect them, and if the Rangers and Rays have to have that come back, then I question their abilities to play baseball.

    See, here is the real truth, the Indians weren;t supposed to be in the playoffs. So when they do, every snooty writer that didn’t pick them to do anything has to shell out any excuse to deem their acheivements.

    It is what it is, and the Indians are a great story all season long. There was never a guarantee that Oakland would win that game, so bring it up?

    • blacksables - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:13 PM

      He won’t answer. Bill doesn’t like it when people challenge him. In fact, he’ll probably delete this comment because you did so. He’s done it before.

      • Kevin Gillman - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:02 PM

        You might be right…LOL

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:31 PM

        He’s actually full of shit, but yeah…

  11. jrod2go - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    I love any chance at calling Angel Hernandez out for being an idiot.

    • 1rdd - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:15 PM

      @jrod2go-I used to feel the same way as you do but I just got so tired of calling Hernandez an idiot so many times that I just physically couldn’t do it anymore so I pass the torch to you my friend. Since he’s such a bad ump, I hope you are a young man with plenty of strength and time to report on all of Hernandezs’ idiot moves. Stay strong.

  12. golfrangeman - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    May 8th!! You gota be kidding me

  13. rcali - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Was is there always controversy around Angel Hernandez? Maybe it’s time that we dig into he and his friends gambling habits? Either that, or he’s simply stupid. I remember that call as I was legally gambling on it in Vegas and got screwed.

  14. stex52 - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    That’s a little too butterfly for me, Bill. Change that one game, who knows what else changes. A game we can play all the time in baseball, but rather pointless.

  15. jazynaz - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    everyone in the park, watching on tv and everyone else everywhere knew the call by hernandez was obviously wrong, but yet it stood. the A’s were the only ones negatively affected by the bad call, so few people cared. no matter. the A’s beat the record of every other team in the league except boston anyway.

    the point is that the umps are supposed to officiate the game, not control the outcome. the officiating should never overtake the game itself and take center stage like it did in that game (especially when they waste entertainment time, stall out the game, then come back with the wrong call)!

  16. raysfan1 - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    Hernandez is a thoroughly incompetent ump who makes awful calls routinely and should thus not be a MLB ump, let alone such a long-tenured one. However, he does not seem to be biased, and so I’m sure he made bad calls that hurt the Indians too.

  17. stex52 - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    I will give you a counter-example. Indaburg will remember this; we were talking on line with some other people when it happened. I’m not looking up the details. Rangers/Rays; one-run lead for Texas with two out in the ninth. Nathan is struggling with a couple on base and Zobrist at the plate. Nathan buries one in the dirt right by the plate and gets a “strike 3″ call instead of “ball 4.” Nathan actually started laughing and got off the mound as fast as he could. It wasn’t Hernandez making the calls.

    If Zobrist walks and Longoria gets a hit, the Rays win and Texas is now eliminated in September.

    It’s in the nature of the game. Hernandez is not good, but they all make bad calls with consequences.

    • raysfan1 - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:20 PM

      I do recall that.

      • flamethrower101 - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:38 PM

        And yet we never hear anything from MLB about disciplining umpires for either bad behavior or bad calls. Shouldn’t they be subjected to the same public scrutiny players and coaches are? Or is Bud Selig too busy searching for his missing committee?

    • moogro - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      Nathan said “wow,” and started laughing.

  18. gg206 - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    As a rays fan and as much as I wanna believe in this post.. I can’t cuz It happens in baseball.. As mentioned if Marty Foster makes the correct call in April and Zobrist walks and Longo gets a hit, we probably eat Texas that night and at the absolute worst have home field in the WC tomorrow . But if the Rays close out a 7-0 lead against Toronto in May, a 2 run lead against Boston in May, a 6-1 8th inning lead against the dodgers in August, a 3-0 7th inning lead against the twinkies 2 weeks ago, a 5-1 lead to the angels in August and several games where they were ahead or tied late and lost..even win half of those games and they won the division or at least are hosting a game Wednesday.. Yes Texas plays Houston, Seattle and the angels and feasted on them esp. In Arlington ; yes Cleveland feasted on the sox, twins.. But it happens can’t cry over spilled milk

    • raysfan1 - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:21 PM

      Yep.

    • pastabelly - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:17 AM

      Yup, you just have to play with the cards you’re dealt. The AL East was the best division in baseball and teams beat up on each other. Cleveland got to play a very cushy schedule and got fat on the really bad teams. It’s just the way it is.

  19. tc4306 - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    And we all know that this was the ONLY umpire call to determine the outcome of any game.

  20. 0fahrvergnugen - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    Which is worse…… this article or Angel Hernandez’s call?

    • historiophiliac - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:48 PM

      Your handle.

      • 0fahrvergnugen - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:33 PM

        As intended.

  21. Senor Cardgage - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    I’ll do you one better. Let’s talk about a game that actually took place just two weeks ago, not five long months ago. In the first game of the Rangers’ last series with the A’s, Oakland jumped out to a big lead, 9–2. It looked like it would stay that way, too, until all of the sudden in the eighth inning Texas mounted a furious rally to cut the lead to just one run. Alex Rios, representing the tying run, was thrown out at third base on what was later shown to be a bad call by Andy Fletcher. Looking at the replay, it really wasn’t even that close. But the call stood and the Rangers’ rally died. The Rangers then went on to lose not only that game but also the second game by the slimmest 1–0 margin. They were eventually swept in the series.

    I often wonder what would have happened if that call hadn’t been blown.

    If Texas had completed the comeback and won the game, it would have been a huge boost to their morale and a pretty big blow to the A’s. Maybe they could have then eked out a couple of runs to take the next game. Maybe they could have been the ones to sweep the A’s instead of the other way around. Oakland would have left town with only a half-game lead. As it was, the division race was effectively over.

    And all of it—maybe—because of one blown call.

    I wonder.

    • moogro - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      Props for proper use of “eke out.” And yes, that Fletcher call was ridiculous.

  22. Bob Loblaw - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    If Angel Hernandez’s mother had not gone to that mixer back in High School, she may have never met angel Hernandez’s father…and she wouldn’t have had Angel.

    Thus, their meeting was what caused the Ranger/Rays/Indians to not have a 3 way tie. Dammit!!!

    • raysfan1 - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:08 PM

      …if only I had a flying DeLorean…

  23. bigdaddy44 - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:11 AM

    Setting aside the effect this one call might have had, the real issue is Angel Hernandez. He is consistently in the conversation as one of the worst umpires in baseball. It’s disgusting that MLB can’t or won’t do anything significant as far as dealing with the incompetent ones. It also drives me crazy that the worst of the worst seem to be the most arrogant umps, looking for trouble and interjecting themselves into situations, when they should just keep their mouths shut and do their jobs. Fans don’t pay to go see the likes of Hernandez and Guccione. Hopefully , Bud the Turds successor will have the nuts to challenge the umps and their union.

  24. txnative61 - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:26 AM

    There is a scandal there, but not on Angel Hernandez or the A’s tying a game. Who looks at the replay? Are MLB replays just a tool to back up bad calls? Lots of debate about the proper role of replay in Baseball, but if they can’t see what everybody else sees, something is VERY WRONG! They should be reprimanded or suspended! Angel Hernandez had to make a close call on the fly, replay official’s didn’t, they had time to get it right!

    • scubagolfjim - Sep 30, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      There are no “replay officials.” The people that made the original call are the same people that review the call. (THAT needs to CHANGE) Sooo…… “do we do the right thing and correct the call and move forward, and admit that we (GASP!) got one wrong? Or do we act so full of ourselves that we ignore the OBVIOUS replay and think of ourselves as some type of infallible god?”

  25. scubagolfjim - Sep 30, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Everyone can fuss and fume all they want about schedules, who was hot at the time, who was not, and so forth. What it all REALLY comes down to is this: The umpires made a bad call. That happens. But they made it a thousand times WORSE when they refused to change the call when the replay CLEARLY SHOWED their original call to be incorrect.

    You can guess and wonder about what would’ve happened next all you want. You can say that one call shouldn’t affect a 162 game season (and you’d be REALLY wrong on that one) but the fact remains that the post season was potentially, and most likely, affected by an umpiring crew’s refusal to admit that they were wrong.

    And yes, even during a 162 game season, one call has the potential to make or break an entire season.

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