Back in June, umpire Joe West celebrated his 5,000th game. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports interviewed him to get his thoughts on all things baseball past and present. One of the subjects was Adrian Beltre. West said, under the header “Biggest complainer:”
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 later clarified to USA TODAY Sports that he and Beltre are on friendly terms).
West has been suspended three games for those remarks, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. The union is strongly opposed to the suspension. Per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the World Umpires Association said, “Joe West is the most senior umpire in our ranks, having served MLB since 1976, under six different baseball commissioners. Joe has upheld the rules of fair play for more than 5,000 Major League Baseball games, and is on his way to the record for most career games ever worked by an MLB umpire. He should be on the field today.”
While it’s nice to see an umpire actually reprimanded for poor conduct, it would be nicer to see it applied more consistently. Many umpires instigate confrontations with players and coaches, then eject them, and seem to never face consequences for their role in the altercations. West is certainly no stranger to that. It seems like the straw that broke the camel’s back was speaking colorfully to the media.