In order to avoid a Game 163, which might even spiral into a Game 164, the Bombers have to simply win Sunday’s finale, which will avoid triggering a number of frustrating tiebreaker scenarios.
For a game this big, you want an even playing field with very few variables. Nine men on each side, a clean contest, and maybe a couple of robot umpires rushed in on deadline to make things extra efficient.
Instead, the Yanks and Rays have been gifted with the master of chaos, umpire Ángel Hernández.
Hernandez will be behind the plate for Sunday’s game, a well-placed ticking time bomb from Major League Baseball.
Riddle me this one, Rob Manfred. Clearly, you knew Yankees-Rays could be incredibly important on Oct. 3. That’s why you scheduled it. Don’t you usually keep Hernández out of big games? Pick a side, man.
Yankees-Rays is going to get chaotic with Ángel Hernández behind home plate.
Anywhere but home plate. Seriously. Can’t we give Ángel his own base in the clubhouse or something and tell him he’s doing the most important job of all?
For those who need a refresher, Hernández sued MLB for racial discrimination (and lost prior to the 2021 season). Hernández’s evidence involved not being assigned to a World Series since 2005, a decision that feels completely defensible when you examine his brutally inconsistent body of work.
Not to defend Major League Baseball, an organization where there are surely problems yet to be uncovered. But…
Hernández, a notorious hothead, brings the complete worrisome package to Sunday’s action. His strike zone makes little to no sense. He never perceives himself as in the wrong. He’s got a quick hook. He loves to bait players into arguments.
The Yanks and Rays are not getting on this roller coaster voluntarily on Sunday, but they’d better strap in.
Above is a chart detailing, in full, what the Yankees need on Sunday.
What they don’t need is the home plate umpire going rogue, wandering around the field and altering the baseball game in his own image. Sprinkling balks here, dribbling bizarre ball fours at the edge of the canvas like some sort of diabolical Jackson Pollock.
We didn’t sign up for this. Frankly, we didn’t even sign up for a meaningful Sunday, considering Aaron Boone could’ve closed this out on Friday night if he’d gone to Aroldis Chapman instead of Domingo German and Albert Abreu. Or if Gary Sanchez hadn’t batted in the most crucial plate appearance of the season with his eyes closed. Or…but we digress.
Please, please, please give Sunday’s home plate umpire the grace to treat this like the World Series appearance he’s been continually denied. Prove ’em wrong, Ángel!