Ex-MLB Star Paul Lo Duca Sued by Umpire Joe West over Bribe Allegations

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 22, 2019

CHICAGO - AUGUST 29:  Umpire Joe West #22 looks on during the game between the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox on August 29, 2019 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Major League Baseball umpire Joe West has filed a lawsuit against Paul Lo Duca over allegations the former All-Star catcher made during a podcast appearance this year. 

Per USA Today's Jesse Yomtov, West is suing for defamation after Lo Duca accused him of taking bribes from Billy Wagner in exchange for a more favorable strike zone. 

Lo Duca made the accusation during a May appearance on The Favorites Podcast (h/t Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic) while recalling a game he said was from 2006 or 2007 when he was with the New York Mets:

"We're playing like a really tight game against the Phillies and Billy Wagner comes in from the bullpen. I used to go to the mound every time and like, 'What's going on?' and he's like, 'Hey, Joe's behind the plate. Set up a couple more inches inside. I was like, 'Are you kidding me? Joe hates me.' He's like, 'No, no, no, no, no, no. Joe loves me.'

"I go, 'He hasn't given us the corner all day.' He's like, 'Don't worry about it.' He literally throws 10 pitches and strikes out three guys. Joe rings up all three guys. Eight out of the nine pitches were at least three to four inches inside, not even close. Guys were throwing bats and everything. Joe walks off the field.”

[...]

"I get back into the clubhouse and I'm like, 'What the (expletive) just happened just right now?' And Wagner just winks at me. I'm like, 'What's the secret?' He's like, 'Eh, 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.'"

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Lo Duca also accused West of throwing him out of "eight or nine games" in his career. 

As part of West's complaint, it's pointed out Lo Duca was only ejected from eight MLB games in his career and only once by West. 

The complaint also says West suffered from unspecified damages as a result of Lo Duca's claims. 

Lo Duca played 11 MLB seasons from 1998-2008 with the Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins. 

West, 66, became a full-time MLB umpire in 1978 when he worked in the National League. His 40-year run makes him the longest-tenured umpire in the history of the sport and he's worked on the World Series crew six times, most recently in 2016 for the Chicago Cubs-Cleveland Indians matchup. 

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