Umpire rips Yankees-Red Sox games for their sluggish pace

Apr 8 2010 - 7:16pm

BOSTON -- Umpire Joe West blasted the Yankees and Red Sox just before Wednesday's game, accusing the two clubs of being "pathetic and embarrassing" in dragging the pace of games and refusing to work with umpires.

The two teams, notorious for the slow tempo of their games, were denied some timeouts in the batter's box by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez during Tuesday night's 6-4 Yankees victory.

"They're the two clubs that don't try to pick up the pace," said West, chief of the umpiring crew that worked the three-game series in Boston. He was the home plate umpire Sunday. "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."

West would not allow Hernandez to comment. Hernandez denied at least three timeouts Tuesday night called by Derek Jeter, Marcus Thames and Boston's David Ortiz.

The first two Yankees-Red Sox games this season lasted 3 hours and 46 minutes and 3 hours and 48 minutes, respectively.

"The commissioner of baseball says he wants the pace picked up," West said. "We try. And (Tuesday night's game) still almost went four hours."

West and the players agreed that the initiative to speed up games is not new, dating back five years. And it is a regular topic before the season begins broached by Bob Watson, vice president of rules and on-field operations for Major League Baseball, and a representative for the umpires.

"That issue is made every spring training ... so it's not anything new," manager Joe Girardi said. "Are they trying to enforce it a little more? Right now it appears (they are). The jury will be out on that at the end of the year."

West said special emphasis has not been placed on speeding up games this season. But umpires are evaluated on how quickly the games move, he said.

"All of baseball looks to these two clubs to pick up the pace," West said. "Angel did everything he could. The players aren't working with us.

"This is embarrassing, a disgrace to baseball."

West conceded that the Yankees and Red Sox often play high-scoring games and that both teams employ a strategic approach that involves hitters taking pitches. He also said pitchers attempt to be too fine.

"I understand it's strategy," West said. "I understand they're trying to set up the count and take so many pitches."

But he said that still does not explain the length of games between the archrivals.

The Yankees involved in Tuesday's incidents would not comment.

Jeter called timeout in the second inning and did not get it, but stepped out of the box completely and eventually time was called. He would not reveal what was said between him and Hernandez.

"There's really no need to get into it," Jeter said. "I'm not really one to say much about umpires."

Thames also tried to call timeout in the second and was denied. Posada, who got crossed up with pitcher A.J. Burnett when Ortiz asked and did not receive time, equally was non-committal.

"Ask Angel. I have no idea what that was all about," Posada said.

West admitted he's frustrated trying to speed up the tempo of games. But he said it's about more than just the Yankees and the Red Sox.

"I don't know what to tell you. I don't know what to do," he said. "I don't know how to make them pick up the pace.

"It's sad when school kids can't watch the end of the game because it ends too late."

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