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Controversy in Tampa Bay: Joe West strikes again

Joe Maddon, Joe West, Angel Hernandez

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, left, argues with first base umpire Joe West, center, and Angel Hernandez after being thrown out for arguing a call during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in St. Petersburg, Fla., Wednesday, May 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


As mentioned in the recaps this morning, there was some serious controversy brewing in last night’s Jays-Rays game. And wouldn’t you know it, Joe West and his crew were at the middle of it.

Watch the play that sparked it here. The original call on the field was that Adam Lind -- who was pulled off the bag by the throw from third -- failed to make the tag on Sam Fuld who was running to first. Joe West was the first base ump who called Fuld safe. And he was right on the play, it seemed.

But wait: Angel Hernandez -- an umpire so bad that he could only be on Joe West’s crew -- came over from second base to dispute the matter. Joe West changed his mind and called Fuld out. This brought Joe Maddon from the dugout who was promptly ejected by Joe West.

Blown calls happen because baseball has decided that instant replay is the antichrist, but the ejection was nuts. In that situation, where the umpire who did the ejecting thought the guy was safe in the first instance and allowed himself to be overruled by a guy much farther from the play, how does he then turn around and eject Maddon for arguing? I don’t care if he used the famous magic words that rhyme with “clock ducker,” it strikes me that a little bit of humility is in order at that point. But Joe West doesn’t do humility.

Of course after the game West admitted he was wrong on the call, saying “it appears that we may have erred, but we did everything protocol right by the book.”

Screw the protocol. Get the call right. And even if you don’t, at least appreciate the awkwardness and ambiguity of the situation and refrain from running a guy for not respecting your auth-or-i-tah.