Country Joe West right about the Rays

OK, this time I'm going to defend Joe West, who makes sense to me. From the St. Pete Times:

Veteran umpire crew chief Joe West told the Times after Tuesday's game that home plate umpire Angel Hernandez was absolutely right in not granting Carlos Pena a timeout, and that the Rays were wrong in saying the call was made due to efforts to speed up games.

Rays manager Joe Maddon was irate at the time when Hernandez declined the request and instead called Pena out when the ensuring pitch was strike three, all with two on and one out in the ninth and the Rays down by two. Speaking in much more polite words afterward, Maddon said he was “kind of annoyed” that the timeout wasn’t permitted and blamed the efforts to quicken the game, of which West has become the leader.

"I’m all for supporting league policy but when it comes to speed-up rules in those kind of situations I think than can basically be thrown in the trash can," Maddon said. "It’s inappropriate. There’s no such thing as a speed-up rule at that moment in the game, that was my argument."


West told the Times the Rays were wrong in their assumptions and Hernandez made the correct call based on Rule 6.02 protecting a pitcher having already started his delivery. And, West noted, that Peña had similarly tried to call timeout earlier in the at-bat and Gregg stopped.

“He umpired by the letter of the law, which you’re supposed to do,” West said. “It’s not just pace of game. … Because it’s part of pace of game, I’m sure it’s magnified in their eyes.”

As for the Rays’ complaints, West said, “(Peña) is right halfway, Angel is a very good umpire. And Joe is just angry because it happened to him. I get that. We understand that. All the calls can’t go their way. That’s why they have us.”

Rule 6.02 runs for quite some time in the book, but here's the juiciest parts:

Comment: The batter leaves the batter’s box at the risk of having a strike delivered and called, unless he requests the umpire to call “Time.” The batter is not at liberty to step in and out of the batter’s box at will...

Umpires will not call “Time” at the request of the batter or any member of his team once the pitcher has started his windup or has come to a set position even though the batter claims “dust in his eyes,” “steamed glasses,” “didn’t get the sign” or for any other cause.

While it's true that umpires don't always call 6.02 by "the letter of the law", it's also true that 1) they should, and 2) they call it often enough that players and managers shouldn't be shocked when it happens. Regardless of the situation. And while not granting "Time" might be considered a "speed-up rule," it's more about being fair to the pitcher, who should be permitted to complete the act of pitching once he's started. Let's imagine, for a moment, how Maddon would react if a hitter was granted "Time" in the midst of Rafael Soriano's delivery

Not so cool anymore, is it?

So Joe West is exactly right: Maddon was mad because it happened to him.

Of course, the ironic thing is that Maddon won, in the end. He got kicked out of the game, but after that long delay -- far longer than if Pena had simply been granted "Time" -- Kevin Gregg walked John Jaso to load the bases, walked Ben Zobrist to make the score 5-4, and finally gave up a bases-clearing double to Sean Rodriguez that put the Rays ahead 7-5.

(Oh, and letting Gregg throw 40 pitches and get beat seems like the perfect way for Gaston to inaugurate June, as he spent May almost completely ignoring his bench.)