Monday, May 9, 2011

Joe West's Crew

By The Common Man

Tonight, Joe West ejected Ron Gardenhire in the 8th inning for arguing that Danny Valencia did not foul off a pitch.  Much has been made about West's incompetence and confrontational nature (including by TCM here).  But his attitude seems to have rubbed off on his fellow umps.  The following is a list of all the ejections TCM was able to find that have been made by Joe West and his crew in 2011:

4/12Bud BlackMgrAngel Hernandez
4/22Brad ArnsbergPitching CoachPaul Schrieber
4/22Brad MillsMgrJoe West
5/4Joe MaddonMgrJoe West
5/4BJ UptonPlayerChad Fairchild
5/4John FarrellMgrChad Fairchild
5/5Terry FranconaMgrAngel Hernandez
5/9Ron GardenhireMgrJoe West

Is this a lot?  Nine guys so far?  The Common Man feels like it is.  Teams have played between 30-35 games so far, so this is roughly one person thrown out of every 3.5 games.  And this may not even be a complete list (if you can think of others, please let us know).  TCM doesn't know what other crews' ejection rates are like, and this seems abnormally high, and is a direct result of this incompetence and open hostility to the players and managers of the game.

It's a shame, because TCM was really hoping that Joe West would have learned something from his experience the other night about how it feels to be ejected.  We'll continue tracking this for the rest of the season, or until Joe West gets fired.


Navin Vaswani said...

Thanks for the link to NotGraphs. Joe West is my favorite!

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

There are simply too many games where umpires are the story and not the game itself. Perhaps when Bud Selig retires some day, we'll get solutions to this mess.

I've gone on record multiple times over the years to replace ball and strike calls with Pitch/FX. It's getting silly. The Dodger/Pirate game was affected last night as well.

The Baseball Idiot said...

Just to play the devil's advocate, there is another side to the story.

First, I agree West is a prima donna, and needs to go. But in each of the situations I have seen where there was an ejection, it was justified.

The rulebook specifically prohibits managers and players from arguing balls and strikes, and judgement calls such as balks.

Each of the ejections I saw came after the manager or player VIOLATED THE RULEBOOOK. Yeah, maybe West and his crew have an issue, but if the managers stay in the dugout and keep their mouths shut about something they know they can't change, then they are less likely to be ejected.

It seems to me as though the managers know this and are intentionally confronting the crew, looking for ejections. If this is true, it's self-styled vigilantism, and is just as wrong as anything West and his guys are doing.

By the way, the call in Tampa was entirely correct, and the umpires did everything by the book. Maddon did have a right to come out and question, but once he got the answer, he should have turned around and went back to the dugout. His refusal to do so (a violation of the rulebook) is what got him ejected. Everyone conveniently forgets that in order to attack the umpires.

The fact that the call wasn't made correctly is due to the idiocy of positioning by umpires, as prescribed by the school and the league, which the umpires are required to follow.

West and crew have some issues with ejecting too many people, but too many managers and players have an issue with the crew actually calling the game by the rulebook. They want to play 'this is how we've always done it' as opposed to 'these are rules and you'll follow them' approach.

And anyone who thinks that B.J. Upton was right in what he did is more a fan of anarchy than a fan of baseball.

The Baseball Idiot said...

One last comment on that. I would suggest anyone who has a problem with the umpiring actually get the rulebook, read it, umpire a few games, and then come back and see how you feel about it.

The problem with West and his crew is not their ability to call a game. I have not seen them do much wrong.

Their problem is the attitude and aggressiveness when dealing with managers and players. In today's world, they have to expect some confrontation and don't seem to be able to handle it very well.

Of course, they are being confronted in violation of the rulebook and for many things that aren't really questionable, so it's kind of a push.

It's not their game-calling that's the problem. It's their attitude.

The Common Man said...


You are entirely welcome. NotGraphs ( is a vital stop for The Common Man every day, and everyone should be reading it.

The Common Man said...

While The Common Man appreciates that these may have been situations that called for an ejection in the rules, the problem stems from the difference between this umpiring crew and every single other umpiring crew working today.

This crew is less competent (the call in Tampa was initially right, then was changed to the wrong call) and more reactionary (the sheer number of ejections is astounding) than any other crew working today.

They are confrontational, they hold grudges, and they are not held accountable for the atmosphere that they help create where explosions like BJ Upton's are possible. Yes, Upton deserves a suspension and a fine. But so too does Chad Fairchild, the ump in question, who allowed this to escalate over the course of two games.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Perfect response.

Anonymous said...

I always felt like Angel Hernandez was good for one or two Bobby Cox ejections per year. Him and West together just seems like a bad idea

Bill said...

@The Baseball Idiot: I don't think the rules are quite so clear as all that. 9.02(a) does say that judgment calls are not to be contested, but then 9.02(b) goes and contradicts that by saying: "If there is reasonable doubt that any umpire’s decision may be in conflict with the rules, the manager may appeal the decision and ask that a correct ruling be made. Such appeal shall be made only to the umpire who made the protested decision."

That can mean anything; if a runner beat the throw to first but the umpire called him out, that umpire's decision was "in conflict with the rules," and the manager is thus within his rights to "request that a correct ruling be made." Seems silly, but that's the rule, and if that wasn't the way it was generally being interpreted, there would be no need to add the comment to 9.02(a), which prevents players from leaving their position or managers leaving the bench to argue balls and strikes (and only to argue balls and strikes, saying nothing of balks or other judgment calls).

Seems to me that other than that one situation -- leaving the dugout to argue balls and strikes, which is an automatic ejection and probably should be -- when to eject a player or manager is completely up to the umpire's discretion. And if you look at this crew compared to all the others across the majors, it's pretty clear that West and Hernandez have been abusing that discretion.