When I wrote that Joe West post a little while ago I will admit that I was mostly commenting on West’s reputation. He has one, of course, for becoming part of the game and part of the story and generally having a confrontational attitude. There have been incidents in the past, you see.
If you take out those incidents I couldn’t tell you with any degree of certainty if West was truly the worst umpire in baseball. I’ve seen him make bad calls and call entire games with very questionable strike zones, but in all honesty, I would have assumed that, yes, there are worse umps. Seniority is powerful in that world, but you have to have some skills to last that long, right?
Then Rob Neyer tweeted this a few moments ago:
Among 50 umpires with at least 2500 ball-strike calls this season, #ALCS crew chief Joe West ranks dead last http://t.co/lAFusjZiNl
— robneyer (@robneyer) October 9, 2014
And yep, he’s right. And that’s quite a thing.
So, that leaves a couple of possibilities: (a) seniority, and not merit, is basically the entire basis for getting postseason assignments; or (b) getting a postseason assignment is, secretly, punishment, not reward, and the truly good umpires are off in Cabo or something getting a jump on their vacations, laughing at old Joe West.
Given that Jim Joyce got the World Series last year I’m assuming that second part isn’t true, because he’s aces. But then I’m left with more uncertainty at why the Orioles and the Royals have had Joe West inflicted upon them.