There was some discussion on this topic following Angel Hernandez's...interesting performance behind the plate recently - not the first time that he has come in for criticism as a result of his appearance in Diamondbacks games. [Such as the time he rang up Chris Young on strike two!] But he is perhaps most famous for tossing former Chicago Bear Steve McMichael out of a game at Wrigley Field. McMichael was there to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame... Though I suspect Brandon Webb probably likes him - Hernandez was also behind the plate the last time Webb faced Washington, and our ace tossed a complete-game shutout that day.
But I figure we could throw it open for a more general debate on the best and worst issue. Another possible candidate would be Bryan Runge, who denied Orlando Hudson a walk on ball four a couple of weeks back. He is, however, neutral - at least in that fans of both teams dislike him equally. Marlins fan Jorge Costales, of the 2 Think Good blog, wrote as follows:
Mr Runge, in his 2nd game coming off a one game suspension for bumping a manager, lost count of a ball 4 to Orlando Hudson and then made 2 of the worst called strikes...imaginable in the same inning, one against each team. As fans, we are aware that home plate umpires do make-up calls, but to watch him do it on pitches which were not close, essentially back to back [Mark Reynolds in the top of the 8th and Mike Jacobs in the bottom of the 8th], showed me how immune umpires feel to criticism. The NBA is not the only league with an officiating problem.
A little additional info to kick things off. A 2006 SI poll of players came up with the following results:
Who is the best umpire in the major leagues?
FAST FACTS: McClelland worked home plate for David Wells's 1998 perfect game. He's known for his small but consistent strike zone....Bucknor (seven years) is the least experienced ump on either list; Froemming (35 years) is MLB's most experienced active ump....Among hitters Hernandez drew 16.4% of the the worst vote. This season Mets LF Cliff Floyd said, "a lot of us have had confrontations with Hernandez."
Other questions, perhaps as interesting:
How do you rate the overall standard of umpiring in MLB? How does it compare to other pro sports?
Do you think MLB has too much or too little influence on umpires?
What do you look for in a "good" umpire. Is a consistent strike-zone more important than one called "by the book"?
Should electronic pitch-monitoring be used to judge balls and strikes, not umpires?
Instant-replay: the best thing since sliced bread, or an abomination against nature?
All-Star [and random] GameDay Thread to follow shortly.