Sunday, April 26, 2020

Angel's New Evidence - Supervisors Wanted Hernandez in World Series, But Woodfork Said No

Plaintiff Angel Hernandez filed over 1,000 pages of evidence in his lawsuit against MLB over the weekend, charging that umpire supervisors Ed Montague and Steve Palermo specifically recommended Hernandez be placed on two World Series crews, only to have the suggestions shot down both times by the Commissioner's Office. Crew Chief responsibility, it turns out, similarly wasn't unusual: Hernandez served as an Interim or Acting Chief nearly every year since Joe Torre's arrival in the Commissioner's Office in 2011.

According to Hernandez's pretrial discovery filings—the non-heavily redacted part—umpire supervisor Montague recommended Hernandez for the 2012 World Series, a suggestion ignored by the League.

The filings indicate that in October 2015, supervisor Steve Palermo sent an e-mail to his boss, Director of Umpiring Randy Marsh, recommending a World Series crew of Angel Hernandez, Phil Cuzzi, Gerry Davis, Marvin Hudson, Dale Scott, Bill Welke, and Jim Wolf.

Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Peter Woodfork allegedly stepped in to stop it, sending an e-mail to Senior Director of Umpire Operations Matt McKendry, writing, "Four new umpires and the guy in the middle of the largest debacle"... a debacle reportedly two-years old and allegedly caused by deficient technology in place at the time.

Two years prior to Woodfork's e-mail, Hernandez ejected Oakland Manager Bob Melvin for disputing the result of an Instant Replay Review of Athletics batter Adam Rosales' fly ball to deep left-center field in Cleveland. Replays indicate the ball appeared to strike a railing above the painted yellow line on the outfield wall, but Crew Chief Hernandez nonetheless ruled the play a double.
Related PostMLB Ejection 030: Angel Hernandez (1; Bob Melvin) (5/8/13).

AH's team filed heaps of evidence in April.
Hernandez stated after the game that on the small monitor he was afforded, he did not observe clear and convincing evidence to overturn the on-field ruling of double ("It wasn't evident on the TV we had it was a home run"). Hernandez was just one of three umpires who left the field to review the play.

MLB acknowledged the wrong call and ultimately changed its Replay Review system to larger HD monitors in a central New York location, but didn't publicly admit to a technological shortcoming. Sharp Aquos, manufacturer of the TV used at the time, is no longer listed as a sponsor of MLB.

Even ejected A's Manager Melvin alluded to a potential technological snafu in his postgame comments ("It actually worried me when it took so long, because I knew all it took was one replay to see"), MLB sent Director Marsh to Cleveland to check the replay equipment the next day, but there was no further public acknowledgment of any technical issue.

We may never know what the box showed.
Hernandez in his lawsuit included "The Cleveland Game" as an example of MLB's disparate treatment of him.

Yet Woodfork reportedly held onto the grudge against Hernandez for years after the incident, purportedly sending a text message to Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre about the 2015 World Series: "Angel is going to be a no for Rob [Manfred]."

Director of Umpire Development Rich Rieker reportedly sent Woodfork an e-mail: "Take Angel out if you want," adding, "Any supervisor or director that told any umpires about any lists should be disciplined."

Under oath during a deposition, Woodfork failed to confirm if Manfred had said no to Hernandez being on the crew, instead explaining he made his own judgment call: "I took a presumption on the situation."

For what it's worth, Palermo's recommended "four new umpires" were trimmed to two (Welke, Wolf), Davis and Scott were replaced by Cederstrom and Winters, Mark Carlson worked his first Series, and Mike Everitt and Alfonso Marquez replaced Marvin Hudson and Angel Hernandez.

Manfred downplayed role of written evals.
As we previously reported, Woodfork in his deposition spoke of focusing on "leadership" in crew chief decisions as opposed to actual evaluations and analytics...Woodfork and others in the Commissioner's Office admitted under oath that certain selections—Crew Chief, Wold Series, etc.—were actually made without even so much as consulting written evaluations.

Manfred, for instance, testified, "we went along with it [using in-person evaluations of umpires] in order to get a deal on the evaluation system, but frankly, I don't think anybody places a lot of weight on what they turn in."

Interestingly, Woodfork also stated under oath when asked whether he was satisfied with the league's percentage of minority umpires that, "It's not satisfaction -- for me, that's not how I -- I'm more analytic. I look at that number, it's not, for me it was not high enough and it's something we need to improve on."

Angel Hernandez's plate score, 10/9/18.
The suit specifically referenced the league similarly passing over Marquez and Kerwin Danley for crew chief roles in favor of allegedly less-qualified white candidates. Recall the relevant period of this suit concluded prior to the 2020 season and prior to Marquez and Danley's promotions to Crew Chief.

In attempting to discredit Hernandez, MLB pointed to a fine he received for attempting to get a baseball for a fellow umpire who had called Homer Bailey's no-hitter, uncovered Randy Marsh's suspension for a similar violation, and referenced Marsh's testimony that Rich Garcia was fired in 2010 for going to watch his son in law, Vic Carapazza, work a minor league game after being told not to by superiors.
Related PostNo-Hitter #7 (Bailey-Hickox) Ties Single Season Record (9/29/12).
Related PostNo-Hitter Bailey (Adrian Johnson): First of 2013 MLB Season (7/3/13).

Nonetheless, MLB's next chance to respond to Hernandez's complaint will come in May; the deadline for the league to respond is May 22, 2020.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: New Evidence - Two Sups Wanted Angel in World Series (CCS)


Post a Comment