By Mark Gallagher
It is not a shock that Joe West, one of MLB’s worst umpires, is also a COVID-19 denier.
Players are wearing masks during workouts, but West has been making headlines this week for shrugging at the coronavirus, like “Naw, I’ll be fine.”
West told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that he doesn’t believe figures that say 130,000 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S.:
“Those statistics aren’t accurate, I don’t care who’s counting them,’’ West said from his Florida home. “When country music [singer] Joe Diffie died, they said he died of the coronavirus. He had Stage 4 lung cancer. The coronavirus may have accelerated his death, but let’s be realistic.”
“Our system is so messed up they have emptied hospitals because there’s no elective surgery. The government has been giving these hospitals extra money if someone dies of the coronavirus. So everybody that dies is because of coronavirus. I don’t care if you get hit by a car, it’s coronavirus.’’
(West’s claim about Diffie was erroneous and twisted — the singer’s father had lung cancer.)
This follows another story earlier in the week, where the 67-year-old West said that even though he’s considered high-risk, he won’t sit out the 2020 season.
“If this game hasn’t gotten me by now, no virus is going to get me,” West told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. “I’ve weathered a bunch of storms in my life. I’ll weather another one.”