A couple of days ago, umpire Joe West spoke out against the Yankees and Red Sox organizations, saying they play too slow. The comments followed a 10 inning affair that ended just under three and a half hours. Some words West used to describe the teams included “embarrassing” and “pathetic”.
“They’re the two clubs that don’t try to pick up the pace,” said West, chief of the umpiring crew that worked the three-game series in Boston. He was the home plate umpire Sunday. “They’re two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest?
The issue of the Yankees’ game pace isn’t new. We’ve heard about it for years. Most recently, Bob Watson, vice president for MLB, spoke about the issue prior to the start of the 2010 baseball season.
Derek Jeter declined to comment, saying “I’m not really one to say much about umpires,” Mariano Rivera spoke out:
“He has a job to do. He should do his job,” Rivera said. “We don’t want to play four-hour games, but that’s what it takes. We respect and love the fans and do what we have to do, and that’s play our game.”
“If he has places to go, let him do something else, what does he want us [the players] to do, swing at balls? … We don’t want to play four-hour games, but that’s what it takes. We respect and love the fans and do what we have to do, and that’s play our game.”
Then tonight, the other team responded. Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia commented about what West said.
“To call the Yankees and Red Sox, two of the best teams in baseball, ‘pathetic’ and ’embarrassing,’ that’s just ridiculous,” Pedroia said while sitting in the dugout before Friday night’s game against the Royals.
“If he doesn’t want to do Red Sox and Yankee games, he should tell the umpires’ union. Then when we’re in the World Series, he’ll be out of that assignment, too.”
Sox manager Terry Francona was more selective and careful with what he said.
“Obviously, I think I need to be somewhat careful is the right word, selective,” Francona said. “I mean, I think it kind of surprised all of us. When you have somebody in charge of running the game without bias, and then you hear those comments coming out pretty strong, it probably worries you a little bit.”
To me, there isn’t a problem. Baseball is a game of strategy. That’s why the Yankees and Red Sox are among the best teams out there. Umpires shouldn’t come out and complain. Players are fined for speaking against calls. Why set a double standard here?
It’s likely we haven’t heard the end of “Westgate.”