Longtime MLB umpire Joe West is suing former All-Star catcher Paul Lo Duca and The Action Network for defamation over comments Lo Duca made on a podcast in May, according to USA Today and TMZ.

On The Favorites Podcast (on The Action Network) in May, Lo Duca claimed that former MLB closer Billy Wagner — a seven-time All-Star and Lo Duca’s teammate in 2006-07 — used to lend West a 1957 Chevrolet in exchange for a more favorable strike zone.

According to USA Today, Lo Duca said on the podcast that after a game in 2006 or 2007, Wagner told him, “Joe loves antique cars so every time he comes into town I lend him my ’57 Chevy so he can drive it around so then he opens up the strike zone for me.”

The complaint — filed Tuesday — says that Wagner never lent West a car, says a game like Lo Duca described never happened, and says that West has “suffered unspecified damages as a result of Lo Duca’s comments.” Via USA Today:

“In reality, during 2006 and 2007, the two years that Lo Duca played for the New York Mets with Billy Wagner, Joe West was the home plate umpire for a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Mets only once, Billy Wagner did not pitch at all, and the game ended on a home run, not on called strikes.”

The complaint says West has suffered unspecified damages as a result of Lo Duca’s comments.

“These statements impugn the integrity, honesty and professional fitness of Mr. West and affect his profession as a Major League Baseball umpire.”

Lo Duca also said on the podcast that over his 11-year career he was ejected 15 times, and “eight or nine times” by West.

But the complaint says that Lo Duca was ejected just eight times, and only once by West.

Lo Duca played in the major leagues from 1998-2008, with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1998-2004), Florida Marlins (2004-2005, 2008), New York Mets (2006-2007), and Washington Nationals (2008). Now, he’s a horse racing analyst for The New York Racing Association, and analyzes fantasy sports and betting for Sirius XM Fantasy Radio.

West, 66, began umpiring in 1976, making him MLB’s longest-tenured umpire (though sometimes that’s hard to believe).

[USA Today, TMZ]

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