Laugh, clowns, laugh

West, docked three for a wisecrack about Adrian Beltre.

West, docked three for a wisecrack about Adrian Beltre.

In 1999, umpire Tom Hallion got himself a three-day suspension when he bumped inadvertently into Rockies catcher Jeff Reed during a beef with pitcher Mike DeJean. The Major League Umpires Association, a month before the infamous mass resignation that torpedoed it, was outraged, but “[n]ot as outraged as they’d be,” the Society for American Baseball Research’s Doug Pappas wrote, “if a player wasn’t suspended for bumping an ump.”

One of the umps among the mass resigners (he was reinstated in due course in a 2004 settlement), Hallion swore he wasn’t trying to bump Reed. Players who inadvertently bump the umps swear likewise and still pony up fines and serve suspensions.

Joe West even tries to make a spoiled no-hitter all about him

West (right) tossing Maddon (left) for the heinous crime of . . . trying to buy a shard of extra warmup time for his closer after his starter's no-hitter got broken up to open the ninth Monday.

West (right) tossing Maddon (left) for the heinous crime of . . . trying to buy a shard of extra warmup time for his closer after his starter’s no-hitter got broken up to open the ninth Monday.

 

Don’t look now, but the Cubs—the Cubs!—have a magic number of three—three!—to clinch the National League Central. Beating the Cardinals 4-1 Monday had a lot to do with that. So did Kyle Hendrick, who’s transformed himself from nothing special to never better this season, leading the majors with his 2.03 earned run average and his 197 ERA+, by taking a no-hitter to the ninth.

Joe West has game—unfortunately

Torii Hunter and Joe West, who aren't likely to be sitting down to dinner together any time soon . . .

Torii Hunter and Joe West, who aren’t likely to be sitting down to dinner together any time soon . . .

God knows (as does His servant Casey Stengel) that I had better things to write about on the day after Opening Days. Things like Nationals’ shortstop Ian Desmond calling second baseman Dan Uggla (yes, Virginia, that Dan Uggla) off a by-the-book popup, dropping the ball, allowing the Mets first and second, leading to Lucas Duda busting up Max Scherzer’s no-hit bid with the two run single that made the difference in the Mets’ win.

West’s suspension versus real accountability

Try to imagine what would have happened if Papelbon (right) had grabbed and shoved West . . .

Try to imagine what would have happened if Papelbon (right) had grabbed and shoved West . . .

In June 1983, Joe Torre was the Atlanta Braves’ manager, Joe West was a veteran of six seasons’ umpiring in the National League, and Bob Watson—who has held the baseball government post Torre now holds—was a Brave who’d been fined $100 for arguing over a game-ending third strike when the game was over. And all Torre wanted was to question West as to whether Watson deserved such a hit after a game.

 

Papelbon’s been spanked, but what about West?

Papelbon's (right) been sent to bed without his supper for a lewd gesture. Will West (left) be send to bed without his for this grab and shove? (Photo: Getty Images.)

Papelbon’s (right) been sent to bed without his supper for a lewd gesture. Will West (left) be send to bed without his for this grab and shove? (Photo: Getty Images.)

Jonathan Papelbon isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last professional athlete to go lewd and rude in the heat of a moment’s frustration when fans crawl all over him following a moment’s failure. But it doesn’t put him squarely in the right to suggest that Joe West, an umpire who is not allergic to the limelight, the grudge, or the self-appointment of being a law unto himself, was squarely in the wrong for escalating a simple misbehaviour into an unnecessary toxin.