MLB umpire Joe West, skeptical of coronavirus death count, won’t opt out of season

“I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus,” the 67-year-old West said.

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MLB umpire Joe West, who said he doesn’t believe the coronavirus death count, will work this baseball season. West is 67 years old.

MLB umpire Joe West, who said he doesn’t believe the coronavirus death count, will work this baseball season. West is 67 years old.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Discussing his decision to participate in the 2020 season, Major League Baseball umpire Joe West expressed skepticism about how many of the more than 130,000 deaths in the United States have been a result of COVID-19.

“I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus,”West said. “I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths.”

West, 67, toldThe Athletic he was classified by the league as high-risk, but will not be opting out of the season, which begins July 23.

“I said, ‘Look, most of these people that they’re reporting are dying are not healthy to begin with. I’ve lost 25 pounds over the winter. I’m playing golf every day in the heat. I’m fine. I’m not going to back down now.’”

West said MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem was “taken aback” by his decision not to opt out. The umpire called his first big-league game in 1976 and is closing in on the record for all-time regular season games –currently 65 short of Bill Klem’s career mark of 5,375.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to opt out. I’m going to work. And I’m going to work until you take me off the field or I get hurt, whatever. I’m working.’”

Read more at usatoday.com

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