The Loop

Even with no baseball, Joe West is still making terrible calls

July 07, 2020


Do you know of Joe West, dear reader? Before we get to the point, let me regale you. If you're a baseball fan, you've almost certainly crossed paths with this scourge of the game. He is a Very Bad Umpire, and I mean that both subjectively and objectively. Over and over, he's been named in anonymous player surveys as one of the three worst umpires in the game (if it wasn't for Angel Hernandez and C.B. Bucknor, he'd be in a class of his own). A statistical analysis of the worst home plate umpires in 2018 found that his "bad ball/strike rate" from the past decade was second-highest in the league, trailing only Ted Barrett. Once, he was the victim of an insanely great burn by Bob Brenly:

And it's not just the incompetence. Joe West does it all with the most annoying brand of thin-skinned arrogance you can possibly imagine. This video will give you some small idea, but unless you're a baseball fan, it's impossible to explain what getting West'ed in a big moment is like. You'll be trying to enjoy a tense game, rooting for your team, and then—if you're a Yankees fan—something like this will happen:

The guy gets under the skin of baseball fans so well that when he released a country music album, it was not seen as fun or quirky but somehow infuriating. When we call him "Cowboy Joe," we are seething.

Was there a point to all this venom? Um, hold on, let me check my notes...yes! Yes, there was a point. (Sorry, it's easy to get carried away in anti-Joe fervor.) The point is, Joe West is not opting out of the 2020 season despite his age and a history of high blood pressure. Which, fine. That's his choice, I guess. But then he had to go and say this:

“I said, ‘Look, most of these people that they’re reporting are dying are not healthy to begin with. I’ve lost 25 pounds over the winter. I’m playing golf every day in the heat. I’m fine. I’m not going to back down now...I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus."

I. Don't. Believe. In. My. Heart. That. All. These. Deaths. Have. Been. From. The. Coronavirus.

It's just classic West—a blend of terrible opinion, ignorance, and arrogance. (Worth noting that he's doing it in part to get closer to the MLB record for most games called.) This is even worse than his typical shoddy work, since if anyone is dumb enough to listen to him, it could put his or her health at risk. I can't resist repeating the title here: Even when there's no baseball, this guy keeps making terrible calls. That's just Joe being Joe.