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Series umpire chief defends crew's work

NEW YORK — World Series crew chief Joe West defended umpires against criticism of their postseason performance, saying "I think we did just fine."

"Instead of criticizing the umpires, the media should be thankful," he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "But sometimes I wonder if the media doesn't like the controversy because that gives you more to write about or talk about."

The AP e-mailed questions to West on Oct. 24, the off-day between Games 2 and 3, but he did not respond until Sunday and Monday, after the Chicago White Sox completed their four-game sweep of the Houston Astros.

"I don't answer any of my e-mails during a postseason event because there is always some irate fan or person who tries to take a potshot at us, and I don't want to have a negative attitude because I'm mad at some guy I don't even know," he said.

Three calls generated considerable media discussion during the postseason.

— In Game 2 of the AL championship series, plate umpire Doug Eddings called strike three on Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski but ruled the ball hit the dirt before Los Angeles Angels catcher Josh Paul caught it. Pierzynski went to first and scored on Joe Crede's winning double to even the series.

— In Game 4 of the ALCS, plate umpire Ron Kulpa failed to call catcher's interference on Pierzynski after his mitt touched Steve Finley's bat.

— In Game 2 of the World Series, plate umpire Jeff Nelson ruled Jermaine Dye was hit by a pitch, loading the bases and setting up Paul Konerko's grand slam.

While replays on the Eddings call were inconclusive, replays showed the Kulpa and Nelson calls were mistakes. West pointed out there were 30 postseason games and 284 innings.

"Every call was dissected and scrutinized," he said. "The media, if I remember, was critical of the umpires on two, maybe three calls. And there were controversial calls that the media was supportive of the umpires.

"'I'm proud of every one of the umpires that worked the regular season and the playoffs. My hat's off to every one of them. They are the best officials in any sport anywhere."