If Joe Torre claims he doesn't have a grudge against umpires, then he may be lying through his teeth.
Slightly over a month after Angel Hernandez filed a lawsuit against MLB over racial discrimination and the grudge that Torre has with him which is preventing him from being promoted to the position of crew chief and receiving World Series assignments, Blue Cowboy Joe West was suspended by MLB for three games over tongue-in-cheek comments made in an article praising him for umpiring his 5,000th career game.
In the article, West was asked which MLB player complains the most to him over calls. West cited Adrian Beltre in a manner that was obviously equivalent to a good nature elbow to the ribs. Beltre had just reached the 3,000 hit club, a feat that usually guarantees a ticket to Cooperstown. (Beltre had also just been ejected by Gerry Davis, the other long tenured umpire, for showing him up by moving the on-deck circle when asked to stay in the circle.)
The article was published earlier in the summer. However, West was handed a three-game suspension in August for the comment, citing an lack of impartiality and professionalism. There was no explanation regarding the delay in levying the punishment.
Both Beltre and Rangers manager Jeff Bannister were asked about the comment and had the same reaction: they knew it was a joke.
So why did MLB feel the need to send a message to West?
We discuss the human element of sports all the time here. Umpires are people too. The relationship between umpires and players (and coaches) should be a bit more jovial in order to keep the seriousness in check. After all, it's a game.
But I guess the bigger question is this: why is Joe Torre, a former player and manager, in charge of umpires?