Umpire Joe West is reportedly suing former MLB catcher Paul Lo Duca over accusations made by Lo Duca during a podcast this past April that West accepted bribes from former then-Mets pitcher Billy Wagner. According to TMZ:
"West is FURIOUS over claims Lo Duca made during an April 18 podcast on The Action Network ... when the ex-Mets catcher accused West of essentially taking bribes from star closer Billy Wagner. 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.""
West, who is still employed by Major League Baseball, has strongly refuted these claims, and filed a lawsuit against both Lo Duca and The Action Network for defamation. His evidence to back up these claims?
The fact that the games Lo Duca mentioned specifically did not end the way he said on the podcast, and that he only ever threw Lo Duca out of a game once, not multiple times, as Lo Duca stated in the same podcast.
Lo Duca was a catcher for the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, and Nationals over the course of his 10-year career. West has been a full-time major league umpire since 1978, while Wagner pitched in the majors from 1995-2010.