Cowboy Joe and the Wish (that he would go away)

Is it time to gong Joe West?

MLB recognizes that there has been at least one recent problem at a White Sox game with the stage-hogging ump.

There's now a "Fire Umpire Joe West" page on Facebook. Creator Christopher Maahs says: "This man has to apologize to us fans on this page or I won't stop until he's 'retired' from calling MLB games."

West has released a country-music CD and has a publicist who gives reporters his umpiring itinerary even though MLB policy is to keep the assignments private.

So much for being a faceless and emotionally detached enforcer of the rules.

MLB fined him for his confrontation last week with the White Sox' Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen, fining the other two as well.

Working first base, West ejected them after calling two balks in as many innings on Buehrle. Both calls were controversial. The last time Buehrle had two balks in a season was 2005.

"I think he's too worried about promoting his CD," Buehrle said. "And I think he likes seeing his name in the papers a little too much instead of worrying about the rules."

Cowboy Joe's publicist says he is "available for media interviews and guest appearances."

Might we suggest an audition for Celebrity Apprentice? Or is that what this already is?

Easy payment plan for penurious team managers

We don't know what West was fined because MLB doesn't divulge sanctions against umpires, but Ozzie Guillen got hit with a $7,000 fine. He doubts West owes that much. Guillen will take his sweet time paying it.

"I guess they fined Joe. I know it wasn't $7,000. But it is what it is," he told MLB.com.

"I've already told Major League Baseball I'm going to pay in months. I'm not going to pay with one check. I got a family to take care of. And they're going to get $1,000 every month."

What is it with these legends of baseball and their easy payment plans?

Anyone remember all those late-night TV commercials for Phil Rizzuto and the Money Store?

Lions and tigers and 20 games back, O's, my!

It's downright unseemly: The O's are flirting with 20 games back (19 after Sunday's games), and it's only May.

Sharing the East Division with the baseball-best Rays doesn't help, even though Tampa Bay has faltered of late.

Speaking of unlucky numbers, this would be Baltimore's 13th straight losing season.

As the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck puts it: "What they have been going through is not so much a curse as it is a plague, which may be the reason so few fans want to breathe the same air with them these days."

Sizemore to undergo surgery

Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore will have left-knee surgery next week and be out at least six to eight weeks.

Contact staff writer Bob Kelley at bkelley@phillynews.com.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.