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Sports Then and Now



More of the Same From “Cowboy Joe” 0

Posted on May 27, 2010 by Don Spieles

Here’s a name you should not know but probably do: Joe West

Aside from his aspiring (or is it perspiring) country music career, Joe West is the best known umpire currently in the major leagues.  But pay attention to that sentence because best known is very different from being the best, or even generally good at his job.  Most talking heads agree, Joe West is an average to below average official.  More importantly, he refuses to fade in to the background of the games he calls as a good umpire should.  Instead, West enjoys his stage and, on occasions like Wednesday’s White Sox game, he demands center stage.

West called Chicago’s Mark Buehrle for two balks in the first three innings of their game against the Indians.  Buehrle, known for an exceptional move to first, didn’t like the first one, and his manager, Ozzie Guillen, came out of the dugout, argued with West, and got himself tossed.  Now, Ozzie getting tossed is not even really news worthy, although most observers seem to agree that what Buehrle did in the second inning was not a balk.  In the third inning, West called Buehrle for another balk that was not a balk.  This time, when Buehrle dropped his glove on the ground in disgust, West tossed him.  It did not appear that Buehrle yelled anything at West prior to his ejection, and it was clear that West was waiting for any excuse.

Is Joe West a Good Umpire?

  • Whatever skill he possesses is overshadowed by his showboating (39%, 7 Votes)
  • He's average (28%, 5 Votes)
  • He's lousy (22%, 4 Votes)
  • Yep, He calls 'em like he sees 'em (11%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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Now, balks are a dubious thing at best – most fans I know can’t even explain clearly what constitutes one.  The real issue here isn’t balks, however, it’s roles. Life is much nicer when you and the folks around you know what roles they are in and play them.  Joe West’s role is supposed to be, to steal a line from Full Metal jacket, “In the rear with the gear.”  The is most assuredly not where Joe West wants to be.

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      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

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