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'Cowboy' Joe West goes looking for trouble again, ejects Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle

May 26, 2010, 1:10 PM EDT

Joe West made headlines last month for complaining about the pace of Yankees-Red Sox games and this afternoon the veteran umpire once again made himself the story by ejecting Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle.
Guillen’s ejection came in the second inning, when he argued West’s balk call against Buehrle. An inning later West called another balk on Buehrle, at which point Buehrle raised his palms in disgust and dropped his glove to the ground.
As soon as West saw any kind of reaction he began moving toward the mound looking for a confrontation and once Buehrle’s glove hit the ground the ejection was immediate.
Buehrle had to be restrained by teammates and White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson spent the next 10 minutes unloading on West, calling him “an absolute disgrace” and “a joke” among many other things. “Joe West wanted to stick it right up his behind and he did,” Harrelson said. “Something’s gotta be done about that. The last couple of years, he’s really had it in for the White Sox.”
As a Twins fan I’m not exactly in the habit of defending the White Sox, but West’s behavior was out of line. Whether or not “he’s really had it in for the White Sox” is up for debate, but he clearly went out of his way to call multiple balks against Buehrle–it’s the first time a White Sox pitcher had two balks called since 1993 and Buehrle had a grand total of one balk called against him in the past three seasons–and then changed the entire complexion of the game (and Chicago’s next couple games) by kicking the starting pitcher out of a 0-0 matchup in the third inning.
On the heels of Bob Davidson’s latest “incident” last night in Tampa Bay, it’s shaping up to be a banner week for out of control umpires.

  1. trampslikeus - May 26, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    not to digress too much, but I’m pleasantly surprised so many are aware of Angel Hernandez. He is the only umpire I’ve ever gone to a game and planned on booing before I arrived. I guess maybe he’s happy we know who he is? What a jerk. What a horrible umpire.

  2. whitecollar - May 26, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    If this was just an isolated incident, I would say “Let it pass.” But the sad fact is that Joe West has been a lightning rod for controversy almost from the time he entered the bigs. If there is a compendium of all his miscalls and miscues in the front office, then it must now run into the hundreds–if not thousands–of pages. Thank goodness for the aging process! Although West will never grow up, we can at least be grateful that he will grow old! Someday we will be free of his arrogant and arbitrary behavior. One thing is certain: Joe West will never join Nestor or Jocko in the Hall of Fame!

  3. Joe S - May 26, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    Jay, I’m guessing you didn’t even see the play. One Joe West dislikes the White Sox Organization in General. And Buehrle didn’t throw is glove on the ground, if you actually watched the game, he dropped his glove in Disbelief. I’m guessing you are either a Twins, Tigers, Or Cleveland fan, because anybody else that can put 2+2 together would know West called that on purpose. And instead of Joe West complaining on how long NYY/BOS games are, he should drop about 100 pounds so he has the stamina to withstand longer games.

  4. Jon - May 26, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    West….give it up.
    As an ump, you suck worse than the black hole at the center of the galaxy.

  5. scatterbrian - May 26, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    “As soon as West saw any kind of reaction he began moving toward the mound looking for a confrontation and once Buehrle’s glove hit the ground the ejection was immediate.”
    That’s not how I saw it. It actually looked like West was at least trying to avoid any confrontation. Confrontational umpires with short fuses are a hot topic right now, but this one doesn’t qualify.

  6. i'm right you are wrong - May 26, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Couldn’t care less about the White Sox or Buehrle, but that was a ridiculous ejection. Based on Buehrle’s response it is just as likely being disgusted with himself as he was griping at Joe West. The balk call was borderline(I dont think it was a balk) but West jumped the gun… he reacted like he was still mad a Guillen and wanted to make his point even louder.

  7. Joey B - May 26, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    “How the second one was “clearly a balk” is beyond me, those of you who are saying that. In order for it to be a balk the pitching foot has to com clearly behind the plant foot, exactly like a pitching motion.”
    He also has to step towards the base. You can’t bring your leg forward as if it’s going towards home. It’s subjective, but the leg definitely looked like it was going forward.

  8. Joey B - May 26, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    “And Buehrle didn’t throw is glove on the ground, if you actually watched the game, he dropped his glove in Disbelief.”
    He dropped it??? Look at the replay. He took the glove off with his left hand, raised it slightly over his left shoulder, and gave it a little toss. It wasn’t an ‘in your face’ kind of toss, but if you think that is merely dropping the glove, I just have to assume you are a WS fan.

  9. Chris W - May 26, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Absolutely agree, Joey B, that it’s up for debate whether Buehrle went over the 45 degree angle generally agreed upon as the “balk line” (even though there’s nothing in the rules defining it as such) when he went to first. But a poster above claimed that Buehrle’s right foot “obviously” crossed his left leg and therefore he wasn’t even allowed to go to first in the first place.
    He might be right and he might be wrong, but the video provided doesn’t seem to show Buehrle’s right foot being anywhere close to crossing his left leg.

  10. Big Game Freddy - May 26, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    @Joey B – you should probably umpire T-ball games where your knowledge of the balk rule would prove most useful.

  11. spudchukar - May 26, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    We need Meritocracy. These guys are treated like Supreme Court Judges, appointed for life. They need to be reprimanded both for conduct and efficacy. If they suck and the 3 mentioned above along with a couple of others should be sent back to the minors, DFA’d or released. They have become authority jocks, not arbitors and they cannot be touched, literally and figuratively because their is no avenue for rebuke. If Angel Hernandez were a player he would be drowning below the Mendoza line. Its like he is a necessary evil. He is bad at his job, has always been bad at his job, and will always be bad at his job. Any system that protects inferior productivity begs for days like we have seen. Davidson and West are over the hill, were never the best umps in their heydays and need to be replaced. Fans should no more put up with bad umpiring than bad managing or playing. It is time for a change!

  12. Jay2 - May 26, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    @Big Game Freddy: why are you dumping on Joey B? He is absolutely correct: the rules require that the pitcher step toward the base to which he throws. Although it’s not in the rulebook, the 45-degree shorthand mentioned by Chris W is commonly applied. I watched the video, and I would have called a balk for not stepping toward first on the throw.
    In addition, The ejection looked OK to me.
    But don’t get me wrong: West is a jerk.

  13. David Burden - May 26, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    Watching the video, that’s an obvious balk. The give away is how open his shoulders have to be to throw the ball to first. But that balk almost never gets called – it’s like how batters almost always get awarded first base for being hit by a pitch, even if they lean into it.
    I don’t think the umpire was out of line, but he’s clearly out of step.
    (I’m a Tigers fan, for what it’s worth.)

  14. Chris W - May 26, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    I think we’re getting caught up in a red herring (whether the balk was an obvious balk, an obvious non-balk, or a possible balk) when really the issue is whether West was using the balk as bait, and whether the quick-hook on something that seems pretty mild in terms of umpire baiting (the glove drop/throw) should lead to a pitcher getting tossed in the 3rd inning. It seems like umpires today are looking for excuses to throw a player out (sometimes). Baseball’s not an etiquette contest (though Dallas Braden might disagree). The ejection is to give the umpire recourse against player abuse. If we look at the spirit of the ejection policy it’s probably not written in order to remove starting pitchers for mildly tossing their gloves in frustration.

  15. Tex Whitson - May 27, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    Was it a Balk? The replays were clear on that.
    Did he throw his glove? No doubt.
    Is this against te rules ? Check the book.
    Was the penalty enforced? Looks like it was.
    Is this the end of the story? No ! Add Wah, Wah, Wah and Boo Hoo.

  16. adam - May 27, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    for the record, on the first balk both joe west at first and whoever the 2nd base umpire BOTH called it, so it wasn’t just joe west on that one.
    and on the second one, buehrle’s momentum was towards the plate, not first. he was trying to deceive the runner.

  17. jim - May 27, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    Leave it to the two clowns(cub lackies) from the score to defend West. I mean windsock berstein and a big smelly pile of terry the boar. It’s no wonder they were referred to in an article a couple of weeks ago as Boo Boo and Wheezie

  18. Mister Fabuloso - May 27, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    It’s not that your front LEG has to cross the plane of the back leg, it’s that your front FOOT has to cross the plane of the back foot. And the step towards the base needs to cross the halfway point towards home plate. In MB’s case, he didn’t do either of those things. It wasn’t a balk at all.
    He also threw over 2 times previous to the call which got him ejected. I’m guessing that it was to stick it to West a little bit. And, if you notice on the ejection balk, he didn’t even catch the runner off guard, so it wasn’t as if any advantage was gained.
    Terrible calls from a terribly fat jackass.

  19. Mister Fabuloso - May 27, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    It can go forward, but the front foot can’t come down at an angle which is anything more than perpendicular to the halfway point on the first base line. aka 45 degrees between the imaginary right angle that intersects 1st base, home plate, and the pitching rubber.

  20. adam - May 27, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    how can you say “he didn’t even catch the runner off guard, so it wasn’t as if any advantage was gained”?
    if you watch the video, the runner leans towards second, jerks back upright and goes back to the bag. you’re right that he didn’t actually get picked off, but he was clearly tricked into believe buehrle was going to throw a pitch.
    and if you want to argue that buehrle didn’t break any rules, what about the part of the rule that requires you to step DIRECTLY towards the bag, not splitting the difference between home and first and the fact that buehrle’s momentum was towards home, not first, a clear sign that he was throwing a pitch?
    i can’t say anything about throwing over to first twice before as i didn’t see the game and only have the twitvid to go off of, but mlb network showed the first balk and both the 1b and 2b umpires called it (and it was blatant).

  21. CRK - May 27, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    Jonny5 – LMAO on the Quatto Joe comment!

  22. beds - May 27, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Real hard to defend the umpires on this one. My default position is that somebody has to be in charge — right or wrong. And when Hawk goes bananas, you try not to line up behind him. But that said, it WAS a disgrace. Country Joe, so-called because he’s the only guy in the entire country whose ego is as big as Joe West’s belly, should be suspended.

  23. SH - May 27, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    umpires are so awful in the mlb right now its ridiculous. They are missing such obvious calls and calling pitches that are a good 8 inches off the plate. These guys need to get fired or suspended because its getting out of hand.

  24. Tyler - May 28, 2010 at 1:29 AM

    the Rule is that his right FOOT has to cross his left leg which it did not. The knee is allowed to cross the leg and still throw to first.

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