Joe West should probably just stop talking. Every criticism about the umpire in his 32nd year seems to include some contention that he enjoys being in the spotlight and prefers to be the show more than keep the real show in check. Earlier this season, West made headlines by publicly ridiculing the Yankees and Red Sox for slow play. More recently, he didn’t help his reputation in a spat with Mark Buerhle and Ozzie Guillen. Buerhle didn’t even say anything after West called him for his second balk. West still ejected Buerhle. Guillen was booted for defending his player.
(Hat tip to Chris Littman of the Sporting Blog for the video)
The problem is that we rely on and trust the opinions of a guy who clearly has vendettas, outwardly comments that he prefers to move the game quicker (even implying that that takes precedent over getting the game right) and he’s old. How can this continue? I’ve never understood the inability of players and coaches to question officials. No one wants to see the game rely on decisions outside of the players and coaches.
Clearly, West’s effective time has passed. And I think he knows it. He’s talking because guys like him may not be able to work (in this role), let along talk to the media, for much longer. It would be my contention that West – and all officials in every sport - should be replaced by technology. Baseball’s the easiest sport to do it. We have technology that can map the trajectory of the ball and the positioning of the fielders to determine defensive success, yet we rely on a guy like this to figure out if a ball is fair or foul? Human error is error. It shouldn’t have a place in a game between two teams. Technology will eventually replace West and others. And games will be better for it.
Joe West joined Waddle and Silvy on ESPN Chicago to discuss ejecting Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen, umpires in the spotlight, his criticism of baseball, and on if he should be suspended.
On why Mark Buehrle was ejected:
“Well the pitcher balked, and I called a balk and he balked a second time and he got ejected for throwing his glove… The balks were stepping to home plate. He didn’t step towards first base. And I don’t remember him doing that before. It’s just a balk is a balk. And this is what’s kind of disheartening, I mean this is one of the fastest working pitchers in the world. We aren’t trying to get him out of the game. Soon as I kicked him out of the game, ‘I’m like this is great, now how long is this game going to take?’ So we aren’t looking to kick him out of the game, we aren’t looking to pick on anybody. The simple fact of the matter is that he balked and he didn’t like it and that he threw his glove, that’s what happened.“
On what Mark Buerhle said to him:
On ejecting Ozzie Guillen:
“Ozzie came out to protect his pitcher, which was probably a good idea at the time because Buehrle was drawing lines in the dirt on the mound and he was about to get ejected then. He even said that he was out there not to argue the balk, but to protect his pitcher. He should come out in that situation. I told him, ‘Everything is OK now Ozzie, you can go back to the dugout.’ He got mad because I told him to go back. And he used a couple profanity laced lines. And that got him ejected. But it was actually not as blown up as it looks like on television. It was kind of funny that he had a tirade at the end of the game because he didn’t actually didn’t say exactly what happened out there.“
On if the umpires feel they are in the spotlight:
“The players are in the spotlight. They are totally in the spotlight. I haven’t seen umpires take over a game. This year I haven’t seen hardly anything out of the ordinary for umpires. And I’m probably not the right guy to say that today because you are in Chicago and everybody in Chicago is upset with Mark Buehrle being ejected, but the point of the matter is that the relationship between the players and umpires and managers is better than it’s ever been.”
On why West can criticize baseball, but Guillen gets suspended if he criticizes West:
“I didn’t criticize the way the Yankees and the Red Sox play. I actually said that the Yankees and the Red Sox are two of the best teams in baseball. I said that they are not complying with the pace of the game. And what they are doing is both embarrassing and pathetic. If you had listened to the whole interview you would understand that I complemented them for being a good team and I chastised them for slowing down the game for purposed of their own.”
And on commentator Hawk Harrelson suggesting West should be suspended:
“He’s a fan. That wasn’t a very professional statement. He didn’t even look at the film. The guy balked. What do you want me to do? Should I say that he didn’t balk and let him pick whoever he wants to off first base? I have a job to do. You know what? Hawk has a job to do and Mark has a job to do and Ozzie has a job to do, and when we don’t agree, sometimes we don’t agree.”