MLB umpires are held to the highest standards of fairness and objectivity. We count on them to ensure that everyone on the field, in the dugout and in the stands, acts with professionalism and class. It is assumed that umpires play no favorites, hold no grudges or personal vendettas against certain players.
Joe West is the most senior umpire in MLB’s ranks, having served MLB since 1976, under six different baseball commissioners. During his tenure, "Cowboy Joe" has had many an argument with players and coaches, but he never let it damage his reputation. He never seemed to play favorites. He wasn't having it from anybody. He's an icon as far as MLB umpires are concerned.
He's made crucial calls in some of MLB's most historic and memorable games. He's not used to taking L's, just deciding them.
Report: Umpire Joe West suspended three games for bashing Adrian Beltre publicly https://t.co/7lxBOFOpcR
In 1999, West was among 22 MLB umpires who participated in mass resignations during a labor dispute. The strategy backfired when MLB simply accepted the resignations instead of entering into further negotiations with the umpiring union. In the end, a few umpires received severance pay and were allowed to retire under the settlement, but West and several other umpires were rehired by MLB in 2002
It wasn't uncommon to see West toss some mouthy manager or overly demonstrative player out of the game over the past four decades, but when Gerry Davis ejected Adrian Beltre for moving the on deck circle, I immediately felt that it was unnecessary. Personal even. Beltre has stood in the same spot for years and Davis picked an unusual time to try and legislate where Beltre stands in the on deck circle. Just a few hits from 3,000, Beltre was trying to enjoy every moment and Davis was acting like a straight hater.
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Now we know why. The mood for every strong unit is set at the top. West is the top dawg umpire. He's supposed to be the pillar of objectivity. He wasn't in the case of Beltre. He let his guard down and got caught in the social media shuffle.
Back in June, 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.”
According to nbcsports.com, West has been suspended three games for those remarks. The union is strongly opposed to the suspension.
The World Umpires Association is against the suspension and said, “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.”
West is known for instigating confrontations and irritating players and managers and he finally spoke himself into a suspension that was probably long overdue. He didn't seem to garner much sympathy from the social media moshpit.
How we feel about Joe West being suspended for publicly bashing Adrian Beltre https://t.co/lmGWBq0z2s
As the landscape of baseball changes and society continues to change and social media continues to dominate the media flow and at times, human behavior, the days of umpires being immune from criticism and league punishment seems to be over. West has had a tremendous run, but his comments on Beltre in June suggests a personal dislike for the dominican superstar. A bias that manifested itself in unfair treatment by another high-ranking umpire who probably felt it was perfectly fine to try and embarrass Beltre. That has no place in the game. Umpires aren’t bigger than the game. Yes, they are granted the ultimate power by MLB’s governing body, but that power is not unconditional.
West violated the rules of integrity that umpires are bound to. His leadership is now questionable.The comment and the ejection are grave lapses of judgement and egotistical actions that suggest that West needs to hang it up after he breaks that record. I won’t deny the man his numbers and legacy, but his act is wearing thin, he's forgotten why he is on the field and his kind of intolerance doesn’t fit in today’s MLB.