Was excited to get into Tampa a little after noon today and to be poolside sipping a beverage or three when Joe West interrupted.
You remember him. The umpire with the shoe box strike zone who was behind the plate Sunday night and oversaw a combined 10 walks by the teams.
Well, in today's Bergen Record he created a stir by calling the Yankees and Red Sox “pathetic” and “embarrassing” when it comes to pace of play.
"They're the two clubs that don't try to pick up the pace," West, a full-time umpire since 1978 who has umpired over 4,000 games, told the Record before Wednesday’s game. "They're two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest?
"It's pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had a muted response.
“No, I don’t have any comment,” Cashman said from New York.
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said of West’s comments: “We’re looking into it.”
Pace of play issues aren't new and teams, including the Yankees, were visited this spring by MLB vice president of on-field operations Bob Watson to discuss the issue, among others.
The topic was also discussed by the 14-member panel Commissioner Bud Selig convened in December to study all aspects of the game.
Still, an umpire going off the reservation on this problem isn't what MLB had in mind to solve it and at the very least some kind of warning, or possibly even a fine, is probably in the offing for West, nicknamed “Cowboy Joe.”
West in general isn't wrong about pace of play being an issue, but in the case of the Yankees and Red Sox you do have two teams with lineups filled with players who work pitchers relentlessly. Not sure how you get players to swing at more pitches, other than perhaps calling more strikes. Umpire Angel Hernandez might have been on to something Tuesday night when he was behind the plate and he denied several timeout requests by batters.
But West didn't appear to do anything of the sort in Sunday, making his outburst seem a bit disingenuous.