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Umpire ‘Country’ Joe West, 67, has a message for coronavirus as the 2020 MLB season prepares to get rolling again. Even though ‘Country’ is in a high-risk category, he’s not backing down from going out and living his life and doing his job of making bad calls. Ken Rosenthal caught up with Joe to get his feelings on corona and coming back to the ballparks.
“If this game hasn’t gotten me by now, no virus is going to get me,” West told Rosenthal on Monday night. “I’ve weathered a bunch of storms in my life. I’ll weather another one.”
According to a 2019 Boston University study of MLB umpires, Joe West was the second worst umpire in 2018 for percentage of bad calls made. He had the most bad calls made, but his percentage was .12% behind MLB-leader Ted Barrett.
This will be Joe West’s 42nd year of being an MLB umpire and he’s not going out over some coronavirus scare. He’s quoted in the Rosenthal piece as saying, “I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus. I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths. I said, ‘I’m not going to opt out. I’m going to work. And I’m going to work until you take me off the field or I get hurt, whatever. I’m working.’”
West, who has been around baseball so long that he umpired the game when Willie McCovey hit his 500th career home run, isn’t backing down from a job he clearly loves even if he’s not any good at it anymore.
“If I get sick, I get sick, God forbid,” West said. “I’m going to be careful. I’m careful when I go to the golf course.”