The Angel Hernandez Lawsuit Stands to Benefit the Umpiring World

The Angel Hernandez Lawsuit Stands to Benefit the Umpiring World

In what may be the most important lawsuit in all of sports as of right now, Angel Hernandez has claimed he, as well as other minority umpires, have been subjected to racial discrimination since Joe Torre joined the Commissioner’s office. This is supposedly how it all started:

“32. Following the 2010 season, there was a change in Major League Baseball’s front office as Joe Torre was named Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations on or about February 26, 2011. In this position, Torre was charged with overseeing Major League Baseball’s umpires.
33. Torre’s current position with Major League Baseball is Chief Baseball Officer. Though his title has changed, Torre still oversees Major League Baseball’s umpires.
34. Torre has a history of animosity towards Hernandez stemming from Torre’s time as manager of the New York Yankees. This dates back to at least May 4, 2001.
35. On May 4, 2001, after what Torre perceived to be an incorrect call by Hernandez, Torre took to the media to insult him and call into question his skill as a Major League umpire.
36. Torre was quoted by the media as saying that Hernandez “seems to see something nobody else does,” quipping that “you’d like to have him sit down and watch the video, something I’m sure he doesn’t do. . .” Torre went on to say that, if Hernandez had reviewed the video, “he would look like a fool.”

The incident that took place on May 4th, 2001:

Excerpt courtesy of FanGraphs

This is not your boss simply critiquing you, telling you how to improve your performance, this is your boss calling a meeting and then proceeding to humiliate you in front of your colleagues. The lawsuit goes on to provide facts such as in 2011, Hernandez did not receive a single “exceeds standards” rating for the first time in nearly a decade. 2011 was also the first year that Joe Torre joined the Commissioner’s office. Hernandez also states that in the twenty years that he has umpired Major League Baseball before Joe Torre entered the Commissioner’s office, not once has he been rebuked for wanting the spotlight.

Now here is where we get to the truly interesting stuff, the kind of information that legitimately takes this from “Angel Hernandez isn’t being discriminated against, he is just a poor umpire” to “Oh…Yikes” –

“68. In the six World Series games since Torre’s arrival in the Office of the Commissioner in 2011, there has been only one non-white umpire assigned to the World Series: Alfonso Marquez, an umpire born in Mexico, was assigned to both the 2011 and 2015 World Series.
69. The other 34 umpires assigned to the World Series during Torre’s time in the Office of the Commissioner have been white. Hernandez has not been assigned to a World Series since Torre’s arrival, despite being assigned to the World Series in both 2002 and 2005 and umpiring numerous postseason games, both before and after Torre joined the Major League Baseball front office.”

And during the regular season;

“76. Since the American League and the National League joined together in 2000, there have been at least 23 umpires promoted to crew chief.
77. All 23 umpires promoted to crew chief since 2000 have been white.
78. In each Major League Baseball season from 2000 to 2016, there were 162 games.
79. From 2000 to 2016, there were 30 teams playing in Major League Baseball each season.
80. This extrapolates to 2,592 games played by each individual team from 2000 to 2016.
81. The total number of games played from 2000 to 2016 is 77,760.
82. For those 77,760 games, since the American League and the National League joined together in 2000, there has not been a permanent minority crew chief.”

Now first off, these lawyers are obviously not mathematicians. They came up with 77,760 games that were played from 2000 through 2016, but each game consists of two teams; that means there have only been 38,880 games played in that time span. Still a large number nonetheless. Nearly 40,000 MLB games between 2000 and 2016, and not one single minority crew chief? Something doesn’t seem to add up.

The biggest key in this entire lawsuit is as follows; “Upon information and belief, Major League Baseball has in recent years asked umpires who did not even apply for the position of crew chief to take a crew chief job. If those umpires accepted the job, Major League Baseball would select them over umpires who did apply, such as Hernandez.” This could be major trouble for Major League Baseball, as even the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gave Hernandez a right-to-sue letter prior to filing his lawsuit.

Also of note, after Hernandez filed this lawsuit, he would go on to umpire the 2017 All-Star Game, the 2017 American League Division Series, and the 2018 American League Division Series. The damage has apparently already been done, however, as seeing that Hernandez has not dropped his suit, the fact that MLB gave him some big games to umpire does not seem to please Hernandez into thinking that Major League Baseball has retracted their seemingly discriminatory ways.


Featured Photo Credit: Norm Hall/AP

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