Studious Metsimus is sad to report that actor/umpire Leslie Nielsen has passed away at the age of 84. The versatile thespian was influential to many comedians for his deadpan delivery on screen, but his work in the first "Naked Gun" film was a little too influential to an enemy of Mets fans.
For years, Mets fans have had a hate/hate relationship with umpire Angel Hernandez. His strike zone has been wider than CC Sabathia's waistline whenever the Mets are batting. He has also developed a rare form of temporary blindness that has resulted in numerous calls at the plate going against the Mets, as Mike Piazza (circa 1998) and Paul Lo Duca (circa 2006) can attest.
Whenever Angel Hernandez has been on the field for a Mets game, bad calls have always followed. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to Mets fans that he has based his entire style of calling games on the umpiring work of Leslie Nielsen. Don't believe me? Take a look at this video clip, which he accidentally left behind the last time he umpired a game at Citi Field.
When John Franco went ballistic on Hernandez after his blown call at home plate gave the Braves a crucial victory over the Mets in 1998, that was Leslie Nielsen's influence. Similarly, when Paul Lo Duca spiked the ball at home plate after another poor call by Hernandez during a game in 2006, it was right after the arbiter had viewed his favorite film (or as he liked to call it, his umpiring instructional video).
Angel Hernandez will be working with a heavy heart in 2011, as his mentor and inspiration has passed away. Most teams honor those who have died by wearing black patches or armbands on their uniforms. Hernandez will also wear black to honor Leslie Nielsen, but he will wear it in a way that is not only appropriate, but will allow him to come up with new excuses for missing critical calls against the Mets (see photo below).
Leslie Nielsen starred in many films over his long career. His death will be mourned by millions of fans worldwide. But one fan may take it a little harder than most.
R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen. You will be missed by this Mets blogger and surely, you will be missed by Mets' nemesis Angel Hernandez (even if he just called you Shirley).