Rangers fans would agree that third baseman Adrian Beltre is in a class of his own -- not only for his Hall-of-Fame-caliber numbers offensively and defensively, but also for his enthusiasm for the game, his quirkiness and leadership in the clubhouse.
According to veteran MLB umpire Joe West, though, Beltre is a step above the rest in a less-than-desirable category: baseball’s biggest complainer.
Talking to USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale ahead of his 5,000th career game Tuesday, West dished on players, managers and rule changes.
When asked who he would label the league’s biggest complainer, West had this to say:
“It’s got to be Adrian Beltre. Every pitch you call that’s a strike, he says, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!’ I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, ‘that ball is outside.’
“I told him, ‘You may be a great ballplayer, but you’re the worst umpire in the league. You stink.’’
Nightengale’s article was later updated to say that West clarified to USA TODAY Sports that he and Beltre are on friendly terms.
Beltre told the Dallas Morning News he thought West’s comments were a joke. He told the paper that the exchange West mentioned happened Saturday, and that the two were joking around.
For the uninitiated, West is one of the game’s legendary umpires, and not for the best of reasons. Sure, he’s not umpired 5,000 games over a 40-year career that has spanned six commissioners, 21 World Series champions, 151 umpires and 55 Hall of Fame players. But he’s also known for inserting himself into the storyline of a game all too often.
Like when he ejected Rangers manager Jeff Banister on Father’s Day -- only after leaving his post at third base to intervene in a conversation between Banister and the home plate umpire about a debatable (at best) foul ball.
Banister was walking away when he got tossed.
There’s also the missed calls. A quick “joe west missed calls” Google search will lead you to CBS Sports pointing out that West had more missed calls than any other umpire behind the plate in 2014, and this article from Deadspin that details some of the more notable of West’s 147 career ejections as of the end of the 2011 season.
That article also says West is “hated in every MLB clubhouse.”
Taking a shot at Adrian Beltre isn’t a good way to gain favor with the Rangers -- but we can hope it was just a joke.