Joe West has umpired 5,000 games and that means people have taken the time to ask Joe West about his favorite thing: Joe West.
I saw an article on MLB dot com about Joe West becoming the third umpire in history to umpire 5,000 MLB games. The headline called him "Legendary". I scoffed. It's an MLB dot com piece, of course they're going to pump up something they consider historical. But I couldn't help but think about how 5,000 baseball games had been ruined.
Doing my best to put Joe West out of my mind being my normal state, I went on with my life assured that Joe West would not haunt one more moment of my life until the next time he tottered into a game played by the Rangers.
Things were going well until today when USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale wrote about West and too called him "Legendary" right in the headline. At first I thought, "Do these writers know the difference between 'legendary' and 'infamous'?" Because Joe West is definitely the latter. Someone like Adrian Beltre is the former.
Reading on, I noticed Nightengale used the word "polarizing" to describe Joe West. Joe West isn't polarizing. Kanye West is polarizing if we're going to use the word to properly describe a West. Polarizing assumes a great number of people enjoy the subject to go along with the naysayers.
No one enjoys Joe West except for Joe West. Polarizing is love or hate, take or leave, Rougned Odor or Jose Bautista. Joe West is just hate, leave, and Bautista.
Concerned with Nightengale's grip on the English language, I skimmed the article because who would want to read any more about Joe West than they have to? When I stumbled upon this:
"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.’’
In a career that spanned the length of Derek Jeter's tenure, you're going to call Adrian Beltre the biggest ball/strike complainer? Joe West has umpired numerous modern day Toronto Blue Jays games but Adrian Beltre is the biggest ball/strike complainer?
I feel personally aggrieved by this. But then, I remember that Adrian Beltre is literally a walking, talking, breathing legend and Joe West is Joe West.
Perhaps he was being tongue-in-cheek with this quote because he knows Adrian Beltre is the most entertaining human being on the planet and Joe West hates nothing more than people enjoying things in spite of him.
Then again, that means picturing Joe West jabbing that moist disaster he calls a tongue into the loose fleshy fold of a cheek to crack a mean spirited joke like an aging, sloppy Hoggish Greedly.
That's right. Joe West is a living, wheezing Captain Planet villain but instead of being an eco terrorist, he terrorizes our Pastime. There are no powers to combine to stop him, either, because he's a part of one of the world's most ironclad unions. No heart ring is going to bust up that group. When you're an MLB umpire, you're basically the Pope or a Supreme Court Justice. This thing is 'til death.
Perhaps we can look past his slight at Adrian Beltre (we can't but there's more to do here) but there's no looking past this:
"Joe was infamous, or famous for testing out a pitcher early in the game,’’ says Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz. "He would call a ball that was a strike to see if you were relaxed, or cool with it, to see how you’d react."
This is exactly the kind of attitude that makes baseball fans hate baseball umpires. It's why we believe that there are things like strike zones for young pitchers and strike zones for veterans. The rookies have to "earn" the call. It's why it seems like some players or teams get the benefit of the doubt more often than not. It's why we believe that vendettas exist among these humans with human emotions.
We believe these things because they're apparently true. Joe West is the broken trust we have in authority.
And finally, if you're not convinced that Joe West is the worst, here's this nonsense:
Worst rule in 50 years
"The DH. It’s horrible. It was supposed to be an experiment to help increase attendance in the American League, and now it’s ruining the game.
Joe West is the human embodiment of Murphy's Law. To use a phrase by the man himself: Joe West, you stink.