Apparently, long-time umpire and part-time country singer Joe West isn’t happy with the pace at which the Yankees and Red Sox play. The Cowboy went so far as to call both teams a “disgrace”. West’s criticisms, which were quoted extensively by the Bergen Record, included the following:
“They’re the two clubs that don’t try to pick up the pace,” said West, chief of the umpiring crew that worked the three-game series in Boston. He was the home plate umpire Sunday. “They’re two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest?
“It’s pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play.”
All things considered, West is probably right. Both teams could speed up the pace a little, but calling them embarrassing is an extreme overreaction. Yankee-Red Sox is MLB’s marquee matchup, so you have wonder how Bud Selig feels about one of his top umpires being so openly critical?
Putting aside the validity of the argument, the more interesting question is why is Joe West taking it upon himself to express his complaints in the press? If a baseball player or manager referred to the umpires in such a manner (as we saw last post season, they would have plenty of opportunities to do so), they’d be fined and perhaps even suspended. Joe West, or any umpire for that matter, should be held to the same standard. It will be interesting to see how MLB responds to West’s outburst.
Also, aside from the embarrassment of having an official criticize two entire teams, the statements also raise the question of whether West can fairly officiate at Yankee and/or Red Sox games? West has always been thought of as an umpire who could hold a grudge, so if I am the Yankees or Red Sox, I’d definitely have some doubt in the back of my mind.