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Monday, October 04, 2021

Record-breaking umpire Joe West to retire after postseason

Umpire Joe West has officially informed Major League Baseball he will retire after the postseason.

West, 68, broke the record for most games umpired, held by Bill Klem, when he was behind the plate for No. 5,376 in May.

“Breaking the record was the goal,” West told ESPN on Monday. “I thought I would do it last year but the season got a little messed up and I don’t think it was right to work until the point of the record then just quit.”

Known as a colorful figure, West has been a lightning rod for controversy at times over his storied career, but has always been considered one of the best at his profession by those in the game.

When he set the mark for most games umpired, Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa called him “the perfect guy to set the record because he represents what a lot of umpires should be.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 04, 2021 at 04:33 PM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: joe west, umpires

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   1. Mefisto Posted: October 04, 2021 at 06:23 PM (#6043587)
Pass.
   2. JJ1986 Posted: October 04, 2021 at 06:51 PM (#6043591)
La Russa called him “the perfect guy to set the record because he represents what a lot of umpires should be.”
Stunned.
   3. TJ Posted: October 04, 2021 at 07:01 PM (#6043594)
To quote Curly Bill Brosius in the movie Tombstone, “Well, bye.”
   4. The Honorable Ardo Posted: October 04, 2021 at 07:25 PM (#6043598)
   5. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: October 04, 2021 at 07:32 PM (#6043599)
he represents what a lot of umpires should be.

Self-important hair-trigger blowhards?
   6. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: October 04, 2021 at 07:47 PM (#6043601)
3. says it all
   7. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 04, 2021 at 08:17 PM (#6043606)
he represents what a lot of umpires should be


ridiculously overweight?

Which of these statements is false?

has always been considered one of the best at his profession


the perfect guy to set the record


Hah, got you! They are both false.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: October 04, 2021 at 08:35 PM (#6043611)
Record-breaking? Is his singing that bad?

the perfect guy to set the record

Hah, got you! They are both false.

Quite the contrary, he is the perfect guy to set the record, for reasons mentioned in #5, your own #7 and implied by #2. In what way does West not represent everything we think umpires are?

I look forward to his HoF plaque: "Set the record for most games umpired. Ummm .... had a better strike zone than Eric Gregg? That's all we got."
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 04, 2021 at 08:36 PM (#6043612)
“Breaking the record was the goal,”


Mission accomplished - "world's shittiest umpire."
   10. The Duke Posted: October 04, 2021 at 09:28 PM (#6043620)
I assume he had a better peak and that all we remember was the decline phase.
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: October 04, 2021 at 09:49 PM (#6043623)
I assume he had a better peak and that all we remember was the decline phase.


For most of his career, he was actually very good at the mechanics, calling balls and strikes and such. The ratings consistently bore that out.

But he was always a belligerent ass.
   12. Jaack Posted: October 04, 2021 at 10:07 PM (#6043626)
I doubt it's how he actually meant it, but that La Russa quote is actually a great dig on umpires.

I kind of see Joe West as the Pete Rose of umpires. Very good at what he did, but an obnoxious personallity who stuck around too long.

Angel Hernandez has the obnoxious personality but he also sucks at his job, which I guess makes him the John Rocker of umpires.
   13. Posada Posse Posted: October 04, 2021 at 10:10 PM (#6043627)
all we remember was the decline phase.


I remember him umpiring games since the mid-1980’s. That”s the mother of all decline phases!
   14. baxter Posted: October 04, 2021 at 10:49 PM (#6043633)
Good gamesmanship by LaRussa; smart to say that. It can't hurt; could help (even if unconsciously--I mean on the part of West, not LaRussa behind the wheel of a car).

Also, I watched the clip, which noted West played safety & QB in college; must have been a heck of an athlete to do that. He's built like a former lineman, though. Richie Petitbon was a defensive back, who seemed to get pretty heavy as he aged. I was thinking of Jake Gibbs, a former QB, college star, who seemed a bit stout in his later Yankee years (although still a young man).
   15. CFBF is Obsessed with Art Deco Posted: October 05, 2021 at 12:52 AM (#6043638)
The thing with West is not so much that he was the worst umpire (as SoSH said, he really wasn't), and I don't know that he was even the most vainglorious and obnoxious umpire -- there were a whole bunch of bad umpires who were unnecessarily antagonistic and attention seeking. West just always seemed like he had contempt for any kind of umpire "norms" -- he didn't bother pretending that he didn't want to be the center of attention or that he had any interest in maintaining a cordial, respectful relationship with the teams whose games he was umpiring. It was very much an unapologetic, "I'm the big man here, I'm the most important thing on the diamond, and I will throw your ass out if you don't genuflect appropriately" tone.
   16. JJ1986 Posted: October 05, 2021 at 07:54 AM (#6043641)
I probably have the details wrong, but there was a game when he was feuding with the White Sox and ejected Mark Buehrle very early because the pitcher flipped his glove the wrong way.
   17. John Northey Posted: October 05, 2021 at 08:49 AM (#6043650)
And that sound you hear is the cheering of many, many MLB players, managers, and coaches who won't have to deal with West anymore. In his final season Joe West had the most wrong calls behind the plate of any umpire in the majors according to UmpScorecards The SF/SD game was his last ML regular season game and sadly we all know MLB will give him a game in the post season.
   18. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: October 05, 2021 at 09:19 AM (#6043655)
The link in 17 is really remarkable in that it supports the old saying that a good umpire should go unnoticed. I think I can name about ten mlb umps and - lo and behold - they are literally all in the bottom quarter for accuracy.
   19. SoSH U at work Posted: October 05, 2021 at 09:37 AM (#6043657)

And that sound you hear is the cheering of many, many MLB players, managers, and coaches who won't have to deal with West anymore. In his final season Joe West had the most wrong calls behind the plate of any umpire in the majors according to UmpScorecards The SF/SD game was his last ML regular season game and sadly we all know MLB will give him a game in the post season.


That was why I noted "for most of his career" above. I didn't know about this year, but I knew that his balls/strikes performance had been sliding in recent years. I imagine it's true for most umpires who work into their 60s.
   20. Traderdave Posted: October 05, 2021 at 09:40 AM (#6043658)
Any umpire whose name you know is a bad umpire.
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: October 05, 2021 at 10:12 AM (#6043661)
To quote Curly Bill Brosius in the movie Tombstone, “Well, bye.”

Joe West: "I'm in my prime"
Everyone: "Yeah, you look it"

-----

Tom Hicks wept.
   22. reech Posted: October 05, 2021 at 10:18 AM (#6043662)
Our long national nightmare is over
   23. bunyon Posted: October 05, 2021 at 10:24 AM (#6043664)
SoSH, I've said before here that at, about 43, my eyesight changed considerably. Things like racquetball became almost impossible - I would just guess where the ball was going to be and, you know, decent amount of experience, I was right fairly often. But, before, I would follow the ball all over the place and onto the racket. It just got to where focus didn't change fast enough. My eyesight (corrected) is still better than 20/20 and if you give me a chance to focus, I see very well. But focus over distance changes very, very slowly.

I know there are physical freaks everywhere, but I don't see anyway that anyone in their 60s has the eyesight needed to be a good ball/strike ump. Maybe I'm wrong.
   24. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: October 05, 2021 at 11:51 AM (#6043690)
Batter: It's that drunk umpire. You're so drunk, you can't see nothing. In fact, you're probably seeing double.

Joe West: I've got two strike zones. One for each of ya.
   25. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: October 05, 2021 at 01:42 PM (#6043720)
I’m assuming the days of electing umpires to the HOF is over. On baseball reference, ten HOFers are listed as umpires. The most recent ones elected were turn of the 20th century ump Hank O’Day in 2013 & Doug Harvey who retired in 1992 & was elected in 2010.

I’m not sure what it would take to see another ump make it. The list of overlooked player candidates is long so I don’t even see an ump getting on the ballot anytime soon
   26. Karl from NY Posted: October 05, 2021 at 02:52 PM (#6043734)
Seconding #23. I'm 43 now, and have noticed the eyesight starting to decline noticeably in the last year or two. Ping-pong is noticeably harder, as you say the focus just doesn't change fast enough.

I had Lasik, fifteen years ago now, which may be a confounding factor.

I think I can name about ten mlb umps and - lo and behold - they are literally all in the bottom quarter for accuracy.


This isn't necessarily causation. Age would correlate with both an ump's name being familiar enough to know and with lower accuracy.
   27. bachslunch Posted: October 05, 2021 at 03:16 PM (#6043739)
@25: This article makes a case for someone named Cy Rigler:

https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2012/12/19/3783938/what-makes-a-hall-of-fame-umpire

No idea if he's deserving or not. I will say that I can't think of a single umpire active from the last 50 years or so not already in who has any business being enshrined. Regardless, I certainly hope Joe West never even gets within sniffing distance of HoF induction -- though if someone like Bowie Kuhn can get enshrined and Dan Shaughnessy can get the Spink Award, sad to say anything's possible.
   28. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: October 05, 2021 at 04:23 PM (#6043758)
bachslunch, thanks for the link it was interesting to read about Cy Rigler.

I did a little further research, it appears Doug Harvey was elected on an umpire/managers ballot. I forgot they separated the candidates in that exact way at one point. Rigler was on a ump/mgrs ballot too at one point too but got no real support. It’ll be interesting if he ever reappears as a candidate

   29. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 05, 2021 at 05:12 PM (#6043772)
SoSH, I've said before here that at, about 43, my eyesight changed considerably. Things like racquetball became almost impossible - I would just guess where the ball was going to be and, you know, decent amount of experience, I was right fairly often. But, before, I would follow the ball all over the place and onto the racket. It just got to where focus didn't change fast enough. My eyesight (corrected) is still better than 20/20 and if you give me a chance to focus, I see very well. But focus over distance changes very, very slowly.

I know there are physical freaks everywhere, but I don't see anyway that anyone in their 60s has the eyesight needed to be a good ball/strike ump. Maybe I'm wrong.


bunyon,

That sounds like glaucoma. I had lasik surgery at 56 in 2000, and at 77 I can still cut the paint off an object ball in pool from 8' or 9' away, which is tough to do if you've fuzzy vision. OTOH I was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2003, and I have to make all kinds of adjustments to follow fast moving objects that quickly change direction. Even if someone just gently tosses me a coin or a ball I have to use maximum concentration in order not to lose sight of it. But according to the eye charts I'm still 20/20 or 20/25. It's like I've got schizophrenic eyes.

The best way to honor Joe West is to stick his head on top of the robo-ump that should replace him behind the plate. I'd let players vote on whether the head should be real or a copy.
   30. The Honorable Ardo Posted: October 05, 2021 at 09:32 PM (#6043842)
West will be inducted, for the same reason Jack Morris and Harold Baines were inducted: so the VC can extend the proverbial middle digit to sabermetrics.
   31. DanG Posted: October 06, 2021 at 01:25 PM (#6044002)
"because he represents what a lot of umpires should be.”
Retired.
   32. DanG Posted: October 06, 2021 at 01:33 PM (#6044005)
Eddie Rommel had 49.8 WAR in his pitching career, then umpired for 22 years, 3,364 games plus 12 WS games and 6 AS games.

Bill Dinneen had 39.4 WAR in his pitching career, then umpired for 30 years, 4,218 games plus 45 WS games and 1 AS game.

If the HOF considered combo careers, both should be in the Hall.
   33. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 06, 2021 at 01:52 PM (#6044009)
I didn't know Joe West was present at Disco Demolition Night.
   34. The Honorable Ardo Posted: October 06, 2021 at 03:34 PM (#6044034)
I didn't know Joe West was present at Disco Demolition Night.
Country Joe must've been simpatico with the theme, if not the conduct of the participants.
   35. Nasty Nate Posted: October 06, 2021 at 03:46 PM (#6044036)
Joe West is so old he was present at Discus Demolition Night...
   36. TJ Posted: October 06, 2021 at 03:57 PM (#6044038)
The best way to honor Joe West is to stick his head on top of the robo-ump that should replace him behind the plate. I'd let players vote on whether the head should be real or a copy.


This sounds like the plot for the next Terminator movie…

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