Joe West isn’t afraid to toss just about anyone from Major League Baseball games but he received a taste of his own medicine Tuesday.
Major League Baseball suspended the longtime umpire three games for recent comments he made about Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre. West, who umped his 5,000th MLB game earlier this summer, gave a lengthy interview to USA TODAY Sports to celebrate the milestone and was asked to name the “biggest complainer” in the game.
Here’s the response that got him in trouble, via USA TODAY:
“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.'”
West can be a bit of a curmudgeon at times, but these comments aren’t 100 percent serious; in fact, Beltre told reporters Tuesday that West went up to him during a Rangers series in early July and clarified he was kidding. (West also told USA TODAY that he and Beltre are on friendly terms.)
So, why did MLB still suspend West? Its explanation was that West displayed an “appearance of lack of impartiality,” which isn’t the strongest argument. The World Umpires Association came out in defense of the umpire Tuesday with a statement.
“Joking interactions between umpires and players are a routine part of the game,” the statement read, via ESPN.com. “We disagree strongly with the decision to punish Joe West simply for sharing a humorous exchange with a player.”
West served the first day of his suspension Tuesday.
Thumbnail photo via Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports Images
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