Baseball has ruled in the Joe West/Chicago White Sox balk flap, and the ruling is clear: Umpire Joe West, yer out ... of line.
He was. And is. Beyond reason. And without a shadow of doubt.
Now, this isn't exactly what baseball said. No. Fines were levied to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, pitcher Mark Buehrle and West, according to the Associated Press, and no suspensions were dished out.
How is that blaming West?
Easy: Guillen was not suspended.
Given Guillen's profanity-laced tirade following the game, including telling the media that West is a f------ a--hole, a suspension for him was a given. Wasn't it? No way managers are ever allowed to take off on an umpire like that.
Unless the umpire is dead wrong.
Bottom line here is, Country Joe West must be stopped. He is a bad umpire, he's arrogant and he has his own publicist. Seriously. The only thing missing when he blows into town are the trumpets heralding his arrival.
His publicist has sent out multiple mass e-mailings already this summer offering up Country Joe for interviews, mostly touting his country music CD that he's recorded. The e-mails usually land in the in-boxes of local media a few days before West's crew arrives in town to umpire a game.
Best case, it is crass and in poor taste for an umpire to be drumming up publicity for himself.
Worst case, it's sending a blatant signal that he's as big -- or bigger -- than the game.
The old cliché is true, that an umpire is at his best when you don't notice he's on the field. That's as it should be. Fans don't buy tickets -- or tune in on television -- to see the umpires.
That's all bad enough. But West's behavior in the White Sox game the other day was beyond reprehensible. He's making himself look like a buffoon and, worse, he's damaging the integrity of his profession.