Joe West, long one of Major League Baseball’s most controversial umpires, is serving a three-game suspension for comments made about Texas Rangers star Adrian Beltre.
Joe West suspended 3 games after calling Adrian Beltre game's biggest complainer in USA Today, per WUA. Union strongly opposes suspension.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) August 9, 2017
The comments in question relate to a June 20th feature in USA Today, in which West called Beltre baseball’s biggest complainer. The same article noted that “West later clarified to USA TODAY Sports that he and Beltre are on friendly terms.”
The World Umpires Association, which West is the president of, issued a statement noting it’s disagreement.
— MLB World Umpires (@MLBaseballUmps) August 9, 2017
This issue is tricky.
West isn’t going to elicit much sympathy in the baseball world. He’s often come under criticism for baiting players, and at times, has been accused of making himself the show of the game.
With that said, this is a soft suspension.
It would be one thing if West’s aforementioned “friendly terms” comment was not corroborated. But if Beltre and Texas manager Jeff Bannister didn’t take the comments seriously, baseball is overstepping its bounds with this action.
Mind you, that doesn’t mean that West is innocent. While he was answering a direction question, he probably could have answered it more diplomatically. Even beyond this, he’s certainly skated on other things.
While West isn’t an especially sympathetic figure, this does create a potential divide between MLB and it’s umpires union. On some issues, that is a necessary (or at least understandable) action. But those stakes should be driven on the hard-hitting, important issues, not jokes that nobody in question took seriously.