Ranking the Blindest Umpires in Baseball

Sam Stryker@sbstrykerContributor IIIMay 11, 2013

Ranking the Blindest Umpires in Baseball

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    Criticizing MLB umpires is as American as apple pie, but unfortunately, sometimes that evaluation is warranted.

    Players and managers may run the risk of being booted from the game, but fans can be as critical as they like of the officiating crew in a game—and sometimes, it is good to know ahead of time what you'll be dealt.

    With the best umps, you never know they are there. Unfortunately, some make their presence know loud and clear. 

    Whether it is a major blown call or an oscillating strike zone, it is never a good thing to be known as “that” umpire.

    Here are the worst umps in Major League Baseball.

Angel Fernandez

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    Perhaps because he made a major mishap so freshly in recent memory, but Angel Hernandez easily tops this list.

    In fact, even the MLB admits Hernandez and his officiating crew made an “improper call” in Wednesday’s game between the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians.

    In the ninth inning of the game, Hernandez and his team failed to reverse a disputed home run by Adam Rosales of Oakland, even after video review.

    Rosales’ home run obviously cleared the wall at Progressive Field, and A’s manager Bob Melvin was automatically ejected for coming on to the field following the video review.

    The Indians went on to win the close game 4-3. 

    The damage is done: MLB executive vice president Joe Torre said the call “stands as final” and Hernandez is notorious for a call he didn’t make—hardly the type of honor any umpire wants to receive.

C.B. Bucknor

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    Now in his 14th season in the MLB, Bucknor is consistently ranked as one of the worst umpires in baseball by players, most recently in a 2010 ESPN poll.

    In an anonymous survey of 100 MLB players, 42 percent named Bucknor on their ballots; the highest of any ump in the big leagues. 

    He was also the worst-rated umpire in both the American and National League—so consensus on the field seems to be Bucknor needs to step up his game.

Joe West

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    Perhaps the most notorious umpire in baseball, Joe West came right behind Bucknor in the 2010 ESPN survey with his name on 40 percent of ballots as worst umpire. 

    West was cited as baseball’s “quickest hook” as well in the poll.

    Perhaps the most troubling is how West injects his voice into the game. 

    In 2010 he called out the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for playing a “pathetic and embarrassing” pace of game. Despite this, West was not fined or suspended or even severely chastised by the league.

Marty Foster

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    Foster may not be the worst umpire in baseball, but you know an ump has some work to do when even they admit to making a bad call. 

    That’s what Foster did this April when a blown call gave Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan his 300th career save in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Texas won 5-4 when Foster called out Rays batter Ben Zobrist looking with a full count. Nathan said he thought the pitch was ball four, and following the game, so did Foster, saying that, “had I had a chance to do it again, I wouldn’t call that pitch a strike.” 

    Again, Foster isn’t the worst umpire in the MLB, but that call isn’t the type of thing you want on your resume. 

Bob Davidson

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    Sometimes it isn’t necessarily the skill-set that makes for a bad ump. Such is the case with Davidson, who brings a hot temper to the field. 

    In a game last year between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies, Davidson obstructed Phillies catcher Brian Schneider from picking up a dropped third strike call. Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel took the field and got into a heated argument with Davidson. 

    Following the game, Major League Baseball suspended Davidson for one game for “repeated violations of the Office of the Commissioner’s standards for situation hearing.”  Clearly this was not the umpire’s first violation.

    Davidson has also earned the nickname of Balkin’ Bob, hardly the type of honor you want to earn in the umpiring profession. In 2011, he was cited by Sports Illustrated as the fourth-worst umpire in baseball in a player poll.