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Umpires’ union says Joe West was suspended three games for calling Adrian Beltre MLB’s biggest complainer

Joe West has been suspended for comments he made about Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre. The umpires union said West made the comments in jest.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

Joe West has been suspended three games for labeling Adrian Beltre as the biggest complainer in baseball, the World Umpires Assn. announced Tuesday.

The union said that West was notified of the suspension last week and that the suspension started Tuesday. A Major League Baseball spokesman declined to comment.

In informing West and the WUA of the suspension, the commissioner’s office said West’s comments left an “appearance of lack of impartiality” toward Beltre and the Rangers, according to the union.

West, the longest-serving umpire in the majors, worked his first game in 1976. As he worked his 5,000th game earlier this season, he was featured in a USA Today story in which he said Beltre has “got to be” the biggest complainer in the league.

“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.’

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“I told him, ‘You may be a great ballplayer, but you’re the worst umpire in the league. You stink.’’

West later told USA Today that he and Beltre were on good terms. In its announcement, the union voiced its “strong opposition” to the suspension, saying Beltre and Rangers manager Jeff Banister agreed West’s remarks were “in jest.”

“As MLB umpires, we take our commitment to impartiality very seriously,” the WUA statement read. “Umpires engage professionally and cordially with hundreds of players and managers every day. Joking interactions between umpires and players are a routine part of the game.

“We disagree strongly with the decision to punish Joe West simply for sharing a humorous exchange with a player.”

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin


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