Umpire Joe West in June said that Texas Rangers veteran Adrian Beltre was the biggest complainer in Major League Baseball.
Now West has been handed something that he can complain about – a suspension for three games because of the comments he made about Beltre.
Information released by the World Umpires Association on Tuesday said that the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office suspended West for three games because he created an “appearance of a lack of impartiality” toward both Beltre and the Texas Rangers.
The umpire’s union said West, who was preparing to umpire a series between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in Phoenix, started serving his three-game suspension on Tuesday.
Remarks made by West were published in an article on June 20 in the USA Today. West, who is 64, and started working games in the majors back in 1976, is only the third umpire to call at least 5,000 games in the majors, following Bill Klein and Bruce Froemming.
Under part of the article that was titled “Biggest complainer,” the veteran umpire said that it had to be the Rangers’ Beltre.
West went on to say that every pitch that he calls a strike when Beltre is at the plate, the Rangers third baseman say “Whoa!”
West added that during one recent game that he umpired, Beltre complained that a pitch called a strike was outside, when West said it was right down the middle of the plate.
West said he told the veteran that he was a great player, but a terrible umpire.
The article noted that West clarified his comments afterwards by saying he and Beltre are on friendly terms. However, MLB was not in agreement with West’s comments and after a slow process finally suspended him for three games.
The union was upset with the decision by MLB and released its own statement.
The statement said the umpires in MLB take their commitment to be impartial very seriously, but they also engage professionally as well as cordially with hundreds of big league players every day, and joking interactions amongst the umpires and the players are routine and part of the game.
The union’s statement added that it strongly disagreed with the decision by MLB to punish West simply because he shared a humorous exchange between him and a player.
Beltre said that he did not feel West needed to be suspended for his comments and that the umpire had told him in July during a series he umpired where the Rangers were playing, that he was just kidding.