Following the opening series with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, umpire Joe West expressed his feelings on the length of the games specifically regarding these two teams to the Bergen (N.J.) Record.
"They’re the two clubs that don't try to pick up the pace," said West, the crew chief of the three-game series. "They're two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest? It's pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play."
Throughout the season, their series' are consistently the longest in length; a typical Yankees-Sox game lasts approximately 3:45 to play. The Yankees were also criticized after game 4 of the World Series, when catcher Jorge Posada visited the mound eight times in one inning.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera took exception to these remarks. "It's incredible," Rivera told The Post. "If he has places to go, let him do something else. What does he want us to do, swing at balls? "He has a job to do. He should do his job. We don't want to play four-hour games but that's what it takes. We respect and love the fans and do what we have to do and that”s play our game."
West is considered one of the best and most respected umpires in baseball. Umpiring since 1976, West is a fixture at the most significant games throughout the the season. He has called several All-Star games as well as each round of the playoffs, including the World Series. Nicknamed "Cowboy Joe," West is also known for being a country singer/song writer.
Despite his credible resume, West is wrong. Whether a game lasts two hours or five hours, the game will be played as long as it is necessary. When the Yankees and Red Sox meet, the level of play and competitiveness is never higher. Every decision throughout a game is critical. Whether it’s what pitch to throw or the positioning of the defense on every play, one mistake can cost you the game, or even your season. Unlike any other game or series, the rivalry is different; honor and pride are at stake.
Regardless of what West believes, nothing will change. Managers Joe Girardi and Terry Francona will continue to approach each game with such care and precision, but most importantly, Commissioner Bud Selig loves every second. With no other game or series does the league earn such high ratings as when the Yankees and the Sox play. Financially, Major League Baseball prospers when these two teams are atop the baseball world, battling each other 18 times a year, plus the playoffs.
Be sure to clear your schedule May 7-9, as the World Champion Yankees travel to Boston for another epic three-game weekend series. I have a feeling Selig might have something to say on which crew of umpires will be in attendance. Have fun in Cleveland "Cowboy Joe," they do there very best to finish games in record time.