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Joe West: “Nobody in today’s society wants to say ‘I wasn’t good enough'”

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Joe West umpired his 5,000th game last night. For the occasion, Jeff Passan of Yahoo interviewed the Cowboy.

You will not be surprised that he does not care that people generally hate him. You will also not be surprised that he does not admit to being a less-than-great umpire. His view of the world is that people are always looking for someone else to blame when they fail and that the umpire is an easy target:

Baseball is a funny game. It’s typically American. If you don’t succeed it’s someone else’s fault. And the first person you want to look at is the official. Just look at our last election. When Hillary lost, it’s someone else’s fault. The Russians. Wikileaks. It’s the fact you couldn’t stand up and say ‘I lost.’ Nobody in today’s society wants to say ‘I wasn’t good enough.’ Baseball is a game of failures. The last hitter who hit .400 is dead and gone. There isn’t going to be another of those. For anybody to think this is a perfect game, they’re kidding themselves. Let’s be honest: How do you hit a round ball with a cylindrical bat square.”

A lot of people have focused on his Russia/Wikileaks comment, but I don’t care about that. Say what you want about the election, but I tend to agree more with people who favor complex explanations for complex occurrences rather than chalking them up to single factors. My political leanings notwithstanding, it’s rather silly to blame one single factor for Clinton’s loss, especially if that factor does not talk about the candidate, who made a lot of mistakes in an otherwise winnable race. That’s in the past, of course and matters less and less as time goes on.

No, the comment that leaps out at me is the one about people not admitting when they’re not good enough. From Joe West, who is arguably the worst umpire in baseball but believes otherwise because, hey, he’s had the job for a long time. Indeed, most of his career consists of incidents in which he’s blamed other people for controversies which arise due to his shortcomings. He believes that his status and the respect he’s owed because of his status trumps his performance. Joe West is never wrong.

Oh well. He has his moments, I suppose. He once ejected A.J. Pierzynski with some pretty suave style. And he grabbed Jonathan Papelbon by the jersey once to get him off the field, and who among us hasn’t wanted to do that?

 

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.