Thursday, July 9, 2020

MLBUA Downplays West as Joe Adds New COVID Claims

With Joe West adding fuel to the fire with new claims about COVID-19, the Major League Baseball Umpires Association (@MLBUA) issued a statement downplaying West's comments, as fellow senior umpire Gerry Davis explained his reason for opting out of the 2020 season.

Recent public comments about the Coronavirus pandemic do not in any way reflect the position of the Major League Baseball Umpires Association.

So what happened?

Speaking with USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Wednesday, West added to Tuesday's comments to The Athletic with the following claims about the novel coronavirus: "statistics aren't accurate, I don't care who's counting them...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."
Related PostJoe West Opts In, Several Crew Chiefs Out for 2020 (7/7/20).

COVID-19 payments were to cover costs.
Sidebar: We often receive similar criticism regarding the accuracy of statistics when pointing out that umpires are 97.5%+ accurate behind home plate and 99.5%+ overall.

The New England Journal of Medicine wrote in June that hospitals have been kept largely empty and cancelled elective procedures in anticipation of and to make room for COVID-19 patients and admission surges.

As for payments to hospitals—a 20% add-on for Medicare COVID-19 patients as authorized by the federal CARES Act—a USA Today fact check, first published in April, indicated the following: "We rate the claim that hospitals get paid more if patients are listed as COVID-19 and on ventilators as TRUE," but also found, "there have been no public reports that hospitals are exaggerating COVID-19 numbers to receive higher Medicare payments" and that the Medicare add-on was meant to "cover the cost of care and loss of business resulting from a shift in focus to treat [more expensive] COVID-19 cases."

With recent hospitalization spikes in Arizona, Florida, and other states, many medical facilities have recently reported a shortage of beds: on Wednesday, 56 hospitals in Florida reported their ICUs were at capacity.

Tara has asked for a stop to the fake news.
Nonetheless, West, speaking from his home in Florida referenced a famous death to support his claim that coronavirus deaths were overblown, "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."

After Diffie passed away in April, his widow Tara spoke out about rumors he had cancer: "My husband Joe Diffie did NOT HAVE LUNG CANCER. his father passed, same name, November 2018 to stage IV lung cancer. STOP STARTING FAKE NEWS. I’ve seen multiple posts and it’s upsetting to all of us."

West, for the record, did previously have cancer, which led to a most unusual friendship with Hawk Harrelson dating back to 2013. The Moffitt Cancer Center writes, "While cancer survivors may not be at higher risk for COVID-19, emerging research does show if they develop the disease they are more likely to have complications and have to be hospitalized than those who have never had cancer."
Related PostHarrelson's Ballad of Cowboy Joe West and The Hawk (1/7/17).

By Thursday, the umpires' union, MLBUA, released a statement seeking to put some distance from West's comments (West is a former president of MLBUA): "Recent public comments about the Coronavirus pandemic do not in any way reflect the position of the Major League Baseball Umpires Association...Regardless of any umpire's personal views, when we report for a resumed spring training and 2020 season, we will conduct ourselves as professionals and in accordance with the health and safety protocols."

Gerry Davis opted out: "I couldn't risk [it]."
Meanwhile, MLB's other senior-most umpire Gerry Davis, who like West is 67 years old, took a decidedly different approach than West and explained his decision to opt-out: "It was really not that tough of a decision for me...I can’t beat on my chest and say nothing is going to happen to me. My doctors told me I don’t have a higher risk of catching it, but higher implications from catching it. Eight of 10 people who have died from it have been over 65 or had pre-existing conditions."

Davis, who disclosed he has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, brought the conversation back to his personal life and the deciding factor that made his opting out an easy call: "We have three young grandchildren. I couldn’t risk taking anything back to my family."

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: MLBUA Issues Statement After Joe West's Comments (CCS)


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