Joe West, the umpire everybody loves to have an opinion about, has been suspended three games for calling Adrian Beltre a complainer during an interview with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale all the way back in June. The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin first reported the news.
The full exchange involved West having to decide who is the biggest complainer in the league and replying,
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.”
Interestingly, and in a departure from how suspensions work for players or managers, West’s suspension was handed down weeks after the comments surfaced. The three-game suspension started with Tuesday’s games.
Both West and Beltre have reached impressive career thresholds in recent weeks, with the former working his 5,000th major league game and the latter hitting his 3,000th career hit.
In the USA Today piece, West noted that he and Beltre are on OK terms at this point, so it doesn’t look like the umpire will have to deal with any bad blood there on top of the suspension.
According to a report from the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant, the World Umpires Association is not too happy with this decision. The union released a statement expressing its opinion, saying,
“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 the details of his career and longevity may be true, West also clearly called a player a complainer to the press, which would necessitate disciplinary action for many in the league were the situation reversed.
Insulting or fighting with umpires, in fact, has resulted in ejections, suspensions, and fines in the past for players and coaches throughout the league. It’s only fair that when things are flipped around similar rules and punishments are applied.