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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

MLB umpire Angel Hernandez loses racial discrimination suit against league

Angel Hernandez has lost his racial discrimination lawsuit against MLB, according to the Associated Press.

Federal judge J. Paul Oetken reportedly granted MLB’s motion for a summary judgement on Wednesday, writing that “no reasonable juror could find that MLB’s stated explanation is a pretext for discriminatory motive.”

Hernandez, who was born in Cuba, filed the lawsuit against MLB in 2017, alleging that his race was a factor when the league passed him over several times to work the World Series or make him a permanent crew chief. The lawsuit also noted that only non-white one umpire, Richie Garcia, had been promoted to crew chief in MLB history at the time, and that Alfonso Marquez was the only non-white umpire to work a World Series since 2011.

Hernandez, who has been an MLB umpire since 1993, was later promoted to temporary crew chief when several umpires opted out of the 2020 season, while Marquez and Kerwin Danley have both since been promoted to permanent crew chief.

In the four years since the suit has filed, Hernandez has also accused MLB umpiring executive Randy Marsh of making “disturbing” racial comments, while MLB claimed Hernandez once improperly eavesdropped on one of the league’s calls.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 31, 2021 at 06:12 PM | 55 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 31, 2021 at 07:00 PM (#6010914)
   2. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 31, 2021 at 08:06 PM (#6010922)
I’m stunned that the judge didn’t take judicial notice of the many BBTF threads addressing the competence of Angel Hernandez.

Read the decision here; and some background on the judge here.


EDIT: Seems to be a problem just copy & pasting that link, but the decision is currently noted among the Decision of Special Interest. Scroll down the homepage of the Southern District of New York.
   3. For the Turnstiles (andeux) Posted: March 31, 2021 at 09:46 PM (#6010928)
OK, "no reasonable juror..." but what if he got a jury made up of other umpires?
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: March 31, 2021 at 09:59 PM (#6010931)
there's a circle in hell for people like this guy.
   5. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 31, 2021 at 10:27 PM (#6010934)
what a jerk.
   6. villageidiom Posted: March 31, 2021 at 10:54 PM (#6010937)
The explicit reason MLB offers — that according to Torre, Hernandez “has not demonstrated the leadership ability and situation-management skills in critical, high-pressure roles on a consistent basis” (Dkt. No. 173 at 32) — is presented in clear and specific terms. And the comments regarding leadership in Hernandez’s evaluations support MLB’s position that, in Torre’s eyes, Hernandez was not as qualified as the umpires who were promoted. The subjectivity of these processes, while challenging to analyze, does not affect this Court’s conclusions.
   7. The_Ex Posted: April 01, 2021 at 08:36 AM (#6010957)
Two things......

I found this surprising:
Hernandez pointed to positive Field Evaluation Forms as evidence of his merit.


Second, Hernandez is planning to appeal. Is he paying for his own legal fees? I imagine they are significant and will go higher on appeal. That must be expensive.
   8. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 01, 2021 at 08:47 AM (#6010960)
Maybe I'm overreacting but posts 4&5 are incredibly unfair. Hernandez is a terrible umpire, no reasonable person disputes that. But other than not being good at his job is there any reason to think he's a bad guy? If you disagree with him filing suit that's fair but he's got the right to do that and just because someone is bad at his job doesn't mean he hasn't been discriminated against. If there's one thing we should have learned the last few years it's that discrimination and racism is pretty rampant in this country. It shouldn't really be that difficult to imagine people saying "you suck you [insert filthy racist term here]."
   9. Paul d mobile Posted: April 01, 2021 at 08:50 AM (#6010962)
Is there any reason to suspect that MLB isn't full of racism? Maybe it's not evident here, but there are lots of crappy white crew chiefs. The fact that Hernandez is a bad ump doesn't mean that there's no discrimination, or even that he wasn't discriminated against.
   10. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 01, 2021 at 08:56 AM (#6010964)
Second, Hernandez is planning to appeal. Is he paying for his own legal fees? I imagine they are significant and will go higher on appeal. That must be expensive.


I have no sense of how much such a thing costs but MLB umps make about $200,000 a year. Hernandez is likely not filthy rich but he should be doing reasonably well. As I think about it is it possible that the umpire's union is paying for this?
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 08:57 AM (#6010965)
Maybe I'm overreacting but posts 4&5 are incredibly unfair. Hernandez is a terrible umpire, no reasonable person disputes that. But other than not being good at his job is there any reason to think he's a bad guy? If you disagree with him filing suit that's fair but he's got the right to do that and just because someone is bad at his job doesn't mean he hasn't been discriminated against. If there's one thing we should have learned the last few years it's that discrimination and racism is pretty rampant in this country. It shouldn't really be that difficult to imagine people saying "you suck you [insert filthy racist term here]."

Well, if you're objectively bad at your job (and Hernandez must have heard that opinion from dozens of sources), and are keeping your job only because of the union rules, claiming racial discrimination is the reason you weren't promoted in a huge jerk move. It's a lie, it's wrong to call someone racist when they're not, and he's probably wasted millions of dollars in taxpayers' money to boot.
   12. Traderdave Posted: April 01, 2021 at 09:00 AM (#6010966)
Any umpire whose name you know is a bad umpire. A good ump will always be anonymous.
   13. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 01, 2021 at 09:06 AM (#6010968)
it's wrong to call someone racist when they're not


It can be true that Hernandez is a terrible ump AND he's been discriminated against.

he's probably wasted millions of dollars in taxpayers' money to boot.


Explain please.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 09:11 AM (#6010969)

Explain please.


The court system isn't cheap to operate.

It can be true that Hernandez is a terrible ump AND he's been discriminated against.

He wasn't discriminated against in the ways he claims. He had no business umping the WS or being a crew chief. You can't base a lawsuit on blanket assumptions that he might have been discriminated against at some unknown point.
   15. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 01, 2021 at 09:15 AM (#6010971)
Well, its also possible to be a jerk and poor at your job, and fail to get special projects because you are a jerk and poor at your job.

All evidence points in that direction. Yet he claims discrimination. BS claims like his are fuel to the jerks who claim discrimination doesn't exist.
   16. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 01, 2021 at 09:23 AM (#6010973)
The court system isn't cheap to operate.


Not disputing that but I am highly skeptical that Hernandez' lawsuit has created millions of dollars of extra work that is being done by taxpayer funded individuals. The attorneys involved are being paid by private entities, the judges, baliffs, court reporters and others involved were getting paid regardless of Hernandez' lawsuit being filed.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 10:35 AM (#6010986)
Not disputing that but I am highly skeptical that Hernandez' lawsuit has created millions of dollars of extra work that is being done by taxpayer funded individuals. The attorneys involved are being paid by private entities, the judges, baliffs, court reporters and others involved were getting paid regardless of Hernandez' lawsuit being filed.

There's a large backlog of cases in most courts. He's preventing legitimate lawsuits from getting their day in court. That's wasting the resources.
   18. Hot Wheeling American Posted: April 01, 2021 at 10:50 AM (#6010988)
I think it's the idea that this...baseball umpire has his own place in hell that really jumps off the page here.
   19. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 01, 2021 at 10:52 AM (#6010990)
There's a large backlog of cases in most courts. He's preventing legitimate lawsuits from getting their day in court. That's wasting the resources.


I remain highly skeptical that that comes remotely close to "millions of dollars."

And of course he obviously thought he had a reasonable case. People are wrong all the time (see any number of threads here). This is what the courts are for to determine this stuff.
   20. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 10:52 AM (#6010991)
EDIT: Seems to be a problem just copy & pasting that link, but the decision is currently noted among the Decision of Special Interest. Scroll down the homepage of the Southern District of New York.
BBTF's CMS can't handle links with spaces. You need to use a link shortener to link to those URLs.
   21. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 10:55 AM (#6010992)
Second, Hernandez is planning to appeal. Is he paying for his own legal fees? I imagine they are significant and will go higher on appeal. That must be expensive.
Nobody pays attorneys for discrimination cases; they're handled on contingency, because there's a fee-shifting statute.
   22. Paul d mobile Posted: April 01, 2021 at 10:57 AM (#6010994)
I suspect Hernandez legitimately feels that he has been racially discriminated against.
   23. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 11:02 AM (#6010996)
Lots of people do. A good lawyer's job is to evaluate when that feeling is reasonable and when it isn't. Hernandez didn't have a good lawyer. (As I noted when it was filed, the suit expressly claimed that Torre held a grudge against Hernandez from his days as Yankee manager due to a call Hernandez had made. That was a really stupid thing to include, because it provided an alternative non-racial explanation for any mistreatment Hernandez suffered.)


And, yes, Snapper is way off. The case didn't cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
   24. Paul d mobile Posted: April 01, 2021 at 11:22 AM (#6011000)
23 - sure, but I don't think it's a jerk move or a lie to claim discrimination when you feel you've been discriminated against.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 11:25 AM (#6011002)
And, yes, Snapper is way off. The case didn't cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Well, even $100K is too much.

23 - sure, but I don't think it's a jerk move or a lie to claim discrimination when you feel you've been discriminated against.

It's a lie and a jerk move when it's clear to any reasonable person that he's just bad at his job.
   26. Paul d mobile Posted: April 01, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6011003)
I don't see it that way snapper.

Like, i assume he's dealt with racist #### his whole life. So when he hears that he's bad at his job, he probably figures that's racist too. So he then files, fully believing that he's in the right.
   27. Jay Seaver Posted: April 01, 2021 at 11:34 AM (#6011005)
Plus, even if he's bad at his job, is he worse at his job than, say, Joe West, or other terrible umpires who haven't had difficulty getting promoted?
   28. Tom Goes to the Ballpark Posted: April 01, 2021 at 11:40 AM (#6011008)
Joe West and Hernandez are the worst umpires in MLB. West has continued to get World Series assignments (although he likely is a longshot to get another one) and is a crew chief. On merit, neither should be a crew chief or involved in the postseason. Getting rid of the two of them solves half of the umpire issues with MLB, right? West should retire soon, but MLB is likely stuck with Hernandez for another decade.
   29. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: April 01, 2021 at 11:42 AM (#6011009)
I found this surprising:

I thought it had been established that Hernandez was competent at calling balls and strikes. In other words he's not wrong, he's just an #######. But my attempts to confirm this memory mainly led to gambling websites who are more concerned about whether an umpire is pitcher- or hitter-friendly.
   30. . Posted: April 01, 2021 at 12:03 PM (#6011015)
I'll hold off on any moral or ethical judgments about it, but it's an absolute fact that employees claim discrimination all the time just as a tactical move when they've been fired, not promoted, gotten bad reviews, whatever. It's also an absolute fact that HR departments and management anticipate/plan for this reality. It's used as a tactic to gain employment advantage, absolutely no question about it. Disability claims, exact same thing. If you're in the arena, you kind of slough off the whole thing as tactical and it's Chinatown Jake, but obviously there's a moral/ethical component to false claims of racism. It's just hard to know where tactics stop and actual subjective claims start. Angel is obviously pretty bad at his job. There really isn't any serious reason to think that conclusion is based on race. But he's hardly the first bad at his job person to take a swing at a legal discrimination claim.
   31. flournoy Posted: April 01, 2021 at 12:34 PM (#6011020)
I suspect Hernandez legitimately feels that he has been racially discriminated against.


We don't yet live in a country where the legal system is based on feelings.
   32. Paul d mobile Posted: April 01, 2021 at 12:55 PM (#6011024)

We don't yet live in a country where the legal system is based on feelings.


I'm not suggesting his case has merit, but pushing back against the idea that he's a jerk, etc.
   33. Itchy Row Posted: April 01, 2021 at 01:00 PM (#6011025)
I think it's the idea that this...baseball umpire has his own place in hell that really jumps off the page here
Maybe it's the good part of hell, not the part with the murderers and Yankee fans.
   34. villageidiom Posted: April 01, 2021 at 01:06 PM (#6011028)
I suspect Hernandez legitimately feels that he has been racially discriminated against.
Yes, but Hernandez also excels at being wrong about obvious stuff. I'm sure he feels when he's told he's made a bad call that he was right all along and people are just being mean to him.
   35. Howie Menckel Posted: April 01, 2021 at 01:06 PM (#6011029)
I think it's the idea that this...baseball umpire has his own place in hell that really jumps off the page here

I may have been giving him too much credit. A number of observers here seem to think that he's a complete imbecile, as opposed to someone who cynically claimed discrimination to try for a quick buck, while being aware of his own gross incompetence.

either way, not a great look.
   36. Srul Itza Posted: April 01, 2021 at 01:20 PM (#6011031)
It's a lie and a jerk move when it's clear to any reasonable person that he's just bad at his job.


If Angel Hernandez was a reasonable person, he wouldn't have needed to file this lawsuit.
   37. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 01, 2021 at 01:20 PM (#6011032)
It can be true that Hernandez is a terrible ump AND he's been discriminated against.
Not in this case. Hernandez lost on summary judgment, meaning there was no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and MLB was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. If you read the decision, Hernandez was attempting to cherry-pick aspects of the evaluation process that he did OK on, while ignoring everything he was rated poorly on, as well as disregarding his comparators.
   38. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 01:45 PM (#6011037)
Joe West and Hernandez are the worst umpires in MLB. ... Getting rid of the two of them solves half of the umpire issues with MLB, right?

Perhaps, and getting rid of C.B. Bucknor would solve the other half.
   39. sunday silence (again) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 02:48 PM (#6011053)

There's a large backlog of cases in most courts. He's preventing legitimate lawsuits from getting their day in court. That's wasting the resources.


I strongly dislike thinking like this. The guy has a right to file a lawsuit, that's what courts are for. They're there to adjudicate as such, the minute judges, prosecutors and attorneys start saying #### like this, we as a people are having are rights eroded.

Nobody's lawsuit should be precluded from other people filing lawsuits. Judges need to stop whining about crap like this as well. If cases aren't being heard then put more judges on the court, or improve the judicial process like maybe stop making tons of people queu up at the courthouse every morning for a ten minute motion hearing?

Even if the case has little merit, that's what summary judgment is for.

One could have easily made the argument that Brown vs Board of Education was a waste of judicial resources, or that the Japanese American claims for internment were a waste. Since those claims had already been brought to court previously and had lost a number of times.

Stop blaming claimants who are making their claims in good faith.

Jeezus, #### you! really.
   40. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 02:56 PM (#6011056)
Stop blaming claimants who are making their claims in good faith.

Jeezus, #### you! really.


Right back at you, sunshine.

His claim was in bad faith to try and exert leverage in an employment situation, by leveraging the very real issue of racism to cover up his incompetence. Witness the summary judgement against him. The court should order Hernandez to pay court costs, and MLB's legal fees.
   41. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: April 01, 2021 at 03:56 PM (#6011076)
We don't yet live in a country where the legal system is based on feelings.

Don't we?
   42. Itchy Row Posted: April 01, 2021 at 03:58 PM (#6011080)
One could have easily made the argument that Brown vs Board of Education was a waste of judicial resources, or that the Japanese American claims for internment were a waste.
There's probably a corollary to Godwin's Law that covers this.
   43. sunday silence (again) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 04:23 PM (#6011086)

His claim was in bad faith to try and exert leverage in an employment situation, by leveraging the very real issue of racism to cover up his incompetence


We don't know this. Moreover that has not been proven, at least not that I am aware of. I have not followed this case closely.

If he did indeed make a bad faith claim there are supposed to be remedies for that as well. DO we know if MLB is seeking attorney's fees in the summary judgment motion?

If bad faith (or whatever the std is) has not been shown then the outcome seems to have ended up about where it probably should have ended up. He made a case, presumably in good faith, and it got dismissed. Im not at all sure a summary judgment was appropriate but I guess that's where they came out.

To start saying that people are wasting teh court's time etc. This the job of courts to sort out. That's literally their job. And to award damages or whatever if the claims were meritless or made in bad faith or whatever.

You really ought to respect the rights of people to bring cases when they feel they've been wronged. That's all Im saying. Your pt. of view is quite opposite that, and I detest that.
   44. Brian C Posted: April 01, 2021 at 05:39 PM (#6011114)
I agree that the presumption of bad faith is unnecessary. "Witness the summary judgment" is hardly enough to substantiate a claim that Hernandez was acting in bad faith and should be further sanctioned.

That said, the facts of the case seemed absurd from the start, and it seems to me that this outcome (i.e., Hernandez losing) was widely predicted. So I think the presumption of good faith is equally uncalled-for.

Fact is, we can't read his mind. He filed a suit and lost. Seems like that should be enough.
   45. Howie Menckel Posted: April 01, 2021 at 05:47 PM (#6011116)
yes, I have come around to accepting that the "total imbecile" conclusion is as compelling as the "hiding his awareness of incompetence behind the race card." both are plausible, actually.
   46. sunday silence (again) Posted: April 01, 2021 at 05:56 PM (#6011122)
But I mean its an insane concept, that if cases consume judicial resources they should be dismissed or sanctioned.

There is no way to determine before hand if some case is or is not worthy. Agreed? Ergo everyone has to be given a chance to make their case, at least to a preliminary extent in terms of pleadings.

What other possible way is there to run a judiciary? that something's gonna take up time therefore you dont deserve a day in court?
   47. Brian C Posted: April 01, 2021 at 11:22 PM (#6011192)
Not sure who you're referring to at this point, silence, but I'm not saying that he doesn't deserve his day in court. I'm just saying that it's pointless for us to guess whether he was acting in good faith or bad faith.

And anyway, I'm not sure that "unwarranted sense of grievance" fits a neat box of either good or bath faith. IMO it's kind of a murky space in between the two.
   48. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 01, 2021 at 11:55 PM (#6011195)
12. Traderdave Posted: April 01, 2021 at 09:00 AM (#6010966)
Any umpire whose name you know is a bad umpire. A good ump will always be anonymous.


The only umpires I associate with bad umpiring—Hernandez, West, and Bucknor—were already mentioned. But there are plenty of other umps whose names I remember and it has nothing to do with the quality of their work.

Welke (the second Welke ump)
Wendelstadt (second of those)
Diaz
O'Nora
Nelson (easy because his name is the same as the former SEA and NYY reliever)
Hickox
Barrett (Lance, I believe, but my instinct is always Marty)
Kolpa (sp?)
Cuzzi
Layne
Foster
Demuth

Probably a few others if I think on it. And one of the umps likely moves into something like second place for all-time games umpired this season, but I don't remember which one. But maybe I'm the anomaly in remembering these names just because 1) I've heard them enough times and 2) I enjoy watching umps do their jobs.
   49. sunday silence (again) Posted: April 02, 2021 at 05:31 AM (#6011201)

Not sure who you're referring to at this point, silence, but I'm not saying that he doesn't deserve his day in court. I'm just saying that it's pointless for us to guess whether he was acting in good faith or bad faith.


a) I think I'm belaboring it at this pt. So I get you.
b) Im pretty sure I agree with you here.
c) I was ranting about what Snapper said, I dont think it was anything you said, it was more belaboring the pt. as I continue to unwind about why that whole idea pisses me off.
   50. villageidiom Posted: April 02, 2021 at 07:13 AM (#6011205)
After witnessing this case, I don't think Hernandez sued in bad faith. Instead, I think he has been dismissing legitimate criticism of his work throughout his career by assuming that the criticism is founded in racism.

We've all dealt with people who, when faced with evidence they are wrong, do everything they can to dismiss the legitimacy of the evidence in order to protect their fragile self-image of superiority. Previously I thought Hernandez was simply bad as aspects of his job, and simply can't improve. Now I think he doesn't think he needs to improve and that all criticism of him should be dismissed. This case is a natural extension of that stance.
   51. McCoy Posted: April 02, 2021 at 07:13 AM (#6011206)
   52. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 02, 2021 at 02:03 PM (#6011256)
After witnessing this case, I don't think Hernandez sued in bad faith. Instead, I think he has been dismissing legitimate criticism of his work throughout his career by assuming that the criticism is founded in racism.
But "assuming" is really the right word there. I didn't pull the docket; I only read Judge Oetken's opinion (he's an excellent judge and an incredibly nice guy, by the way), so I can't be sure, but it sounds from the opinion like Hernandez had no evidence of race playing a role in his case. It wasn't like it was ambiguous; nobody ever said or did anything relating to his race. "Bad faith" might be overly strong, but it sounds like the suit was completely meritless.
   53. sunday silence (again) Posted: April 03, 2021 at 01:17 AM (#6011371)
Do we know upon what sort of basis was Hernandez making these claims? I can think of several possibilities here:

a) based on his years of experience he should be getting X number of playoff games to officiate;
b) based on certain metrics, like balls/strikes he should be getting more play off games;
c) he heard someone call him some racist names;
d) some combination.

It could be something like that or something else entirely. What do we know?
   54. Ron J Posted: April 03, 2021 at 07:22 AM (#6011378)
#53 The only real evidence supporting his claims is general. Low number of minority umpires could be seen as supporting the notion of systemic bias against minorities.

But MLB countered with the evidence that other umps with similar evaluations also were bypassed for promotion to crew chief.

Quoting Judge Oetken:

"The undisputed evidence reveals that the promotion determination takes into account a number of factors — some of which are somewhat subjective — and prioritizes an umpire’s leadership and situation management."

"The evidence shows beyond genuine dispute that an umpire’s leadership and situation management carried the day in MLB’s promotion decisions. Torre testified that the candidates he appointed to crew chief instead of Hernandez ‘have not demonstrated the same pattern of issues and to the same extent that have manifested with Hernandez over the years.’ […] And indeed, the promoted umpires have evaluations with comments that lend support to Torre’s statement."

Looks to me like MLB did themselves a real big favor by having good records of the promotion process.
   55. sunday silence (again) Posted: April 03, 2021 at 02:30 PM (#6011423)
thanks for adding that.

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