Joe West said in June that Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was MLB's biggest complainer. Now the veteran umpire has been given something about which to complain: a three-game suspension for those comments. As reported Tuesday by the Los ...
Joe West worked his first MLB game in 1976. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)
Joe West said in June that Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was MLB’s biggest complainer. Now the veteran umpire has been given something about which to complain: a three-game suspension for those comments.
As reported Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times’s Bill Shaikin, who cited information from the World Umpires Association, the MLB commissioner’s office gave West the ban for creating an “appearance of lack of impartiality” toward Beltre and the Rangers. The union said that West, who was set to umpire a Dodgers-Diamondbacks series in Phoenix, began serving his suspension Tuesday.
West’s remarks were published by USA Today in a June 20 article pegged to his 5,000th MLB game. The 64-year-old West, who began working major league games in 1976, became just the third umpire to reach that mark, after Bill Klem (5,369; 1905-1941) and Bruce Froemming (5,163; 1971-2007).
Under a section titled “Biggest complainer,” West was quoted as saying, “It’s got to be Adrian Beltre. Every pitch you call that’s a strike, he says, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!’ I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, ‘That ball is outside.’
“I told him, ‘You may be a great ballplayer, but you’re the worst umpire in the league. You stink.’ ’’
USA Today noted that West subsequently clarified that he and Beltre were on “friendly terms,” but MLB took a dim, if somewhat slow to unfold, view of those comments. The WUA, per Shaikin, then expressed its own disappointment with the punishment.
“As MLB umpires, we take our commitment to impartiality very seriously,” the union said in a statement. “Umpires engage professionally and cordially with hundreds of players and managers every day. Joking interactions between umpires and players are a routine part of the game.
“We disagree strongly with the decision to punish Joe West simply for sharing a humorous exchange with a player.”
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Beltre said Tuesday that the suspension was unnecessary. The third baseman, who recently became the 31st MLB player to accumulate 3,000 hits, added that West told him during a Rangers series in July that he was kidding.
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