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And, sadly, it won’t be exclusively for the holiday weekend. Is it me or does it seem like officiating in games, now more so than ever, has been taking more and more of its share of attention at athletic events? Boston fans won’t have to look too far for evidence.
Let’s look at the horror show that occurred Wednesday in Orlando. Those two technical fouls on Perk were absolutely absurd. I’ve seen tougher fouls given in a girls’ JV game. Seriously. Now the Celtics are facing the very real possibility of having to play Game 6 without their starting center. (Fortunately, after this article was published, the NBA rescinded a technical on Perk, and he will be available for Game 6) How about earlier in the series when the ref was suspended for throwing a ball at a fan? The following day you couldn’t get through SportsCenter without a laughable analysis from any number of anchors. Should that really be the story or at the very least ‘a’ story?
Let’s turn our attention to baseball. Yesterday MLB umpire Joe West made some headlines after throwing out White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and pitcher Mark Buehrle. Both Buehrle and Guillen were in an uproar after West called two extremely borderline balks early in the game. In fact, after further review, West displayed not a hint of consistency in his game calling. The same move (literally a carbon copy) is one time called a balk the next time it isn’t. In the world of professional sports, where someone’s life literally hangs on an official’s call, little can be done about officiating. Really, all pro athletes ask for is consistency. Guillen and Buehrle had some interesting comments after the game. I’m not brave enough to quote the quasi English Guillen speaks but the gist of his comments were that fans come to see players play….not managers manage or umps call a game. Similarly, Buehrle said that its seems like West is more focused on getting his name in the paper rather than calling an honest game.
Red Sox fans may remember West from earlier this season when he pulled a temper tantrum crying that Red Sox/Yankees games were too long and something needed to be done to shorten the games. Sorry bro, you’re getting paid a VERY good salary to do a job that most guys would do for minimum wage. Granted it’s a difficult job and most fans aren’t qualified but you’re not navigating the cubicle jungle like the overwhelming majority of us so spare me. At most your work day is 4+ hours….in a ballpark! I get out of work and pay ridiculous amounts of money to go hang out in your office after a day of work. Tough to endear yourself to most fans with that type of argument in my opinion.
Now, this comes on the heals of a press release stating that Joe West will be officiating the upcoming series at Fenway this holiday weekend when the Red Sox take on the Royals. Interestingly enough, as Gordon Edes reports on espnboston.com, this announcement did NOT come from MLB. In fact the announcement came from a Tennessee based publicist who lists West as one of their clients. The announcement went on to say that not only is West officiating the upcoming series but he will be in Boston and he’s available for media interviews and guest appearances. To give you a little context MLB never announces umpiring crews in advance. The identity of the crews are not released until the teams have announced their starting line ups for ‘security reasons’ according to Cathy Davis, an MLB specialists in umpire administration. So, West is going out of his way to announce where he umpiring AND that he wants to talk to you and be seen. Seems a little weird right?
Well, come to find out Joe West is quite a talented man. He is, in addition to his umpiring gig, a fully employable country western star with two albums released. Now it makes perfect sense why West was peeved about the length of Sox/Yankees games….he has gigs to make! He goes by the name Cowboy Joe West and you can check out his fairly pedestrian homepage here. But the fact of the matter is good ole Joe clearly has some ulterior motives in his primary career of an MLB umpire. So, if you see some flamboyant calls coming from Joe this weekend you may have to reconsider what his motives are. Oh yeah, one more thing, Joe is the head of the Umpires Union. So who polices him? At what point does Bud Selig have to take a look at this?