MLB Umpire Joe West Suing Former Dodgers Catcher Paul Lo Duca Over Bribery Accusation
MLB umpire Joe West
Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

Several MLB umpires have made a name for themselves over the years for both good and bad calls, but perhaps no one has done so more than Joe West.

“Cowboy Joe” has been umpiring in the big leagues for more than 30 years, and plenty of players, managers and fans have taken exception with his controversial calls throughout that time. Though West is no stranger to criticism, he’s embroiled in an off-field controversy.

He is reportedly suing former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca for accusing him of taking bribes from closer Billy Wagner while they were on the New York Mets.

Lo Duca shed light on the story during a recent podcast appearance on The Action Network. According to TMZ, West is refuting what Lo Duca claimed occurred more than a decade ago:

Specifically, Lo Duca said during a game he was catching around 2006 or 2007 against the Phillies … he noticed West (the home plate umpire) was being extra generous with strike calls for Wagner. In fact, Lo Duca claims West called the final 3 batters out on strikes to end the game.

Afterward, Lo Duca claims he asked Wagner why he was getting so much love from West … and that’s when the pitcher winked at him and explained it this way …

“Joe loves antique cars … so every time he comes into town, I lend him my ’57 Chevy, so he can drive it around … so then he opens up the strike zone for me.”

If these accusations were true it would obviously be a serious matter for West, who is still umpiring, so it does not come as a surprise that he is denying them and suing Lo Duca.

This is not the first time a Dodgers player has taken issue with West as Tony Cingrani got into it with the veteran umpire during a 2018 game against the Miami Marlins in which he felt he was wrongly called for a balk in a close game.

Additionally, Dodgers players poked fun at West during a 2016 game. West is a country singer and led by Chase Utley, the Dodgers decided to use his songs as their walk-up music the entire first time through the batting order.

That was all in good fun though, and a lot less serious than this issue with Lo Duca that seems to be headed for a court of law in the near future.