Veteran umpire Joe West made headlines earlier this month for saying the slow pace of Yankees-Red Sox games were “pathetic” and “embarrassing” and “a disgrace to baseball.”
He’s apparently making it his personal mission to speed games up, but Joe Maddon wasn’t happy about West immediately walking to the mound as soon as the Rays manager stepped onto the field to change pitchers.
I didn’t like that. It’s not the way it should be. It has nothing to do with the pace of the game. That’s inappropriate. A manager should be allowed to go out to the mound, talk to his pitcher and then you make the exchange without the umpire being privy to the conversation.
I didn’t like the idea of being shadowed so quickly when I got out there, and the bad part is I’m going through this exchange with David [Price] coming out of the game, and it’s not good, because David shouldn’t be subject to all that, he really shouldn’t. That should be between David and I, I get it done, and then the umpire comes out and I say I want the next pitcher.
I think most fans would agree with West that the pace of games are too slow, but there are far better ways for him to approach that than what he did to Maddon and ultimately one rogue umpire trying to change things in the one game he’s at each night isn’t going to do much of anything aside from adding to the inconsistencies that help contribute to the slow pace in the first place.
Pitchers like Mark Buehrle are consistently involved in the quickest games and it’s not because the umpire is beating the manager to the mound for pitching changes, it’s because the guy on the mound is delivering the ball within seconds of getting it back from the catcher. Encouraging that and in turn encouraging hitters to remain in the batter’s box is the way to go if West and MLB are truly interested in having an impact.