It has been reported that Major League Baseball has fined Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, pitcher Mark Buehrle, and umpire Joe West an undisclosed amount for the actions during Wednesday’s game against Cleveland, leading to the ejections of Guillen and later Buehrle after they disputed two balk calls.

After the game, Guillen went on a tirade against West, done in classic Ozzie Guillen fashion. Major League Baseball said it would begin investigating Thursday night, and quickly came to a decision Friday afternoon.

Buehrle said of the fine, “I figured there was going to be a fine because no matter what, you get tossed from a game no matter what it is, there’s always a fine.”

Whether the balks occurred or not, I’m not seeing much of a rationale for Buehrle’s fine. Guillen’s fine was naturally going to happen, and even a suspension I could have seen happening after his comments against West.

Granted, Guillen later said of West after his tirade, “I think Joe is one of the best umpires in the game, there’s no doubt. I’m the type of guy, no matter what happened yesterday, to me it’s another day. I’m not going to hold any grudges against him.” Cleaning up the mess made by the tirade was his best bet in avoiding a suspension, and it seems to have worked.

Joe West being fined for a combination of the balk and his recent antics this season, including calling Yankees-Red Sox match-ups “pathetic and embarrassing” due to long game times, baseball really did not have a choice other than to fine or suspend him.

It’s interesting that West’s fine is lumped into Guillen’s and Buehrle’s, as West’s problems with criticizing teams is far more serious. As ESPN’s Rob Neyer said in his blog two days ago, “An umpire isn’t really viable if there’s a belief that his integrity is compromised. And when an umpire uses words like “pathetic” and “embarrassing” to refer to one team (or two teams), isn’t it reasonable to wonder if he’ll treat that team fairly the next time around?”

Hopefully West’s fine is meant to send a message that his conduct this season will not be tolerated, rather than sweeping the larger issue under the rug of the smaller balk issue. For now, the case for these three is closed

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