Angel Hernandez Says MLB Manipulates Reviews to Disadvantage Umpires of Color

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 9, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15:  Umpire Angel Hernandez looks on during a baseball game between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 15, 2022 in Washington DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

MLB umpire Angel Hernandez said the league "was manipulating the performance" of umpires of color "to make their performances look worse" in a filing with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic.

Hernandez sued Major League Baseball for discrimination in 2017, arguing the league had a history of discriminating against people of color within its umpiring ranks. Federal Judge J. Paul Oetken dismissed the case in 2021, but Hernandez is now appealing to a higher court.

"[A] review of Mr. Hernandez's Year-End Evaluations and his UERs [umpire evaluation reports] for the years 2011-2016 reveals that MLB manipulated Mr. Hernandez's year-end evaluations in order to make his job performance appear worse than it actually was," the filing said. "Mr. Hernandez's Year-End Evaluations for the 2011-2016 seasons do not even come close to accurately summarizing Mr. Hernandez's actual performance in those seasons."

Major League Baseball has previously denied his claims of discrimination.

"Hernandez has not demonstrated the leadership ability and situation management skills in critical, high-pressure roles on a consistent basis," former MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre said in a deposition, speaking on why Hernandez wasn't given a World Series assignment.

In 2021, Judge Oetken said in his ruling that Major League Baseball employs "an unfortunately low proportion of minority umpires," but agreed with the league that the small number of non-white umpires given premier assignments like the World Series was not "statistically meaningful," in part because the league didn't have many umpires of color to promote in the first place given those league's diversity issues.

Hernandez's appeal is arguing against that particular interpretation from Judge Oetken, comparing it to a loophole small businesses use when failing to promote employees of color.