Kevin Millar on "The Rich Eisen Show." Screegrab: ‘The Rich Eisen Show’

Bypassing the traditional farewell tour, Ángel Hernández’s retirement has become an open forum for media analysis and past players’ reflections. And each has painted a picture of a career constantly dogged by controversy, with every call he made seemingly scrutinized under a harsh spotlight.

Kevin Millar, who fits both of those titles and is now a former player in the media on MLB Network, was on Rich Eisen’s show Tuesday and offered his retrospective on the career that was.

“I think it was time,” Millar said. “I think it was a good time for Ángel to get out. Listen, it’s not rocket science, right? We all have replay systems… there was some stuff that was wearing on players. It’s not as easy as people think, but the last five years, I think when you’re hearing about some stuff, Ángel Hernández seemed to be around that stuff. But hell, he had a hell of a career, umpired a lot of games, and the time is now.”

Eisen said he sensed that players no longer respected Hernández and wondered aloud if Millar had experienced or sensed something similar.

“It’s funny because I had a chance to talk to all umpires at first base; they do the rotation, so there’s an engagement there,” he said. “Some guys don’t like to engage…Some guys engage, and you have a conversation. I’ve never felt Ángel Hernández had this huge ego. I felt, at times, that he was a bad umpire. I just feel at times that the instincts started dwindling.

“And you don’t get to that level unless you’re a great umpire. And maybe he was great, but it’s just like players. You age, and then you’re not great anymore. There’s bat speed that slows down or velocity on the fastball. So, listen, there’s some great young umpires. This is about opportunity. And when you start seeing that change, I think the time for sure is now.”

Advocating for a shift in focus, Millar proposed removing strike zones from broadcasts. He believes the game has become overly technical, likening it to an out call because a runner’s shoelace came undone during a close play.

“I think so because we get fixated on that box,” Millar said regarding removing strike zones from TV broadcasts. “It’s kind of like going to watch the Cowboys’ game, and you end up just staring at the big screen the whole game. And I think the box sometimes, you lose that feel because sometimes it crosses the plate, and the catcher catches it off the plate, but it’s a strike.”

In essence, Millar’s argument here is that the focus on these minute details, coupled with the constant scrutiny of social media, ultimately contributed to the downfall of Hernández’s already controversial career. While Millar acknowledges it was time for Hernández to retire, his comments suggest he believes umpires shouldn’t be subjected to such intense public criticism.

[Rich Eisen]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.