Ejections appear way off base
MINNEAPOLIS - Crew chief Jerry Layne thought home plate umpire Todd Tichenor did a great job handling the seventh inning yesterday, when the starting catchers and both managers were ejected - for not a whole lot.
I guess it's in the eyes of the beholder, but from the eyes of a lot of people involved, there weren't many attaboys coming Tichenor's way.
Vice president of umpiring Mike Port said he watched some of the game at his office in New York, but he did not feel comfortable commenting on Tichenor's performance until he was able to watch the events, then read Tichenor's report and review the ejections. In fairness to Tichenor, the crew chief is the only umpire allowed to comment.
The seventh inning started with a long home run to right-center from Jason Varitek, his second of the day, giving the Sox a 2-1 lead. Then Jeff Bailey doubled and moved to third on Julio Lugo's fly to right. Jacoby Ellsbury, with his last chance to extend his 22-game hitting streak, was hit by a Sean Henn pitch.
The histrionics began when Dustin Pedroia hit a fly to right fielder Jason Kubel, who made a pinpoint throw to the plate. Catcher Mike Redmond caught the ball and reached to tag Bailey, who took an outside angle to the plate. Tichenor called Bailey safe.
"I just looked at our replay and it's inconclusive," said Layne. "But it's so close that it would be difficult to try to say one way or the other, from what I have seen. It's not a clear case one way or the other."
Did Redmond tag Bailey?
"There's no question a tag was made," Bailey said. "Did I get my hand in there first? I really can't tell. I saw the replay on TV and I couldn't tell. When I came out of the slide, I pointed down at the plate and said, 'Yeah, I got my hand in there!' I ran off, so I didn't see Redmond get ejected. I was shaking hands with everybody . . . and two guys were getting tossed out of the game."
The evidence isn't strong in Tichenor's favor. Redmond was tossed and the veteran catcher is still trying to figure out why.
"I thought I got him at home and that's it," Redmond said. "I just said, 'I got his arm.' I didn't swear at him or anything. It was a quick gate. In 11 years in the big leagues, I've done a lot worse out there and stayed in the game. I didn't expect to get thrown out. I said my piece and moved on. Obviously, he had a short fuse. I didn't touch him or anything."
Layne corroborated Redmond's story.
"No contact was made," Layne said. "I think it was an emotional time. I think the emotion of the game came into play. I think that's what happened on the second [ejection]. Ron [Gardenhire] is a great manager and he's going to protect his players and do whatever he has to do to do his job.
"And the umpire did his job and the manager did his job. There was no contact made. It was an ejection, something that happens in baseball."
Gardenhire is expected to protect his player and ask the question Redmond - and others - were asking. What did Redmond do to get tossed?
"I just wanted to know why he threw Redmond out so quick," Gardenhire said. "And that was it. Then he threw me out for asking why he threw Redmond out. I thought [Redmond] was emotional, sure. I just thought [the umpire] pulled the trigger too quick, that's all.
"That's too quick to throw a guy [out]," he added. "If he would have attacked him and bumped him, I understand, but he jumped up, he was telling him, 'I got him,' and he threw him out really quick."
Redmond knew his team's situation, and that was on his mind when he argued the call. He knew Minnesota's other catcher - Joe Mauer - was the designated hitter, and Mauer had to catch when Redmond was ejected. The Twins also had to relinquish the DH.
On the other side, whenever balls and strikes are questioned, the umpire has the authority to eject.
Josh Beckett started mouthing off at Tichenor about balls and strikes in the bottom of the seventh, and if anyone should have been tossed, it should have been Beckett.
The pitch Beckett was upset about was thrown right down Broadway. It was called a ball. That's when Varitek, protecting his pitcher, interceded and started jawing with Tichenor. Varitek was tossed, as was manager Terry Francona. Varitek wouldn't comment after the game.
"Varitek was trying to keep his pitcher in the game," said Layne. "Varitek took one for the team, basically. Terry Francona did his job, too. The bottom line is the managers have a job to do and the umpires have a job to do, and it was a difficult situation to be in as an umpire.
"I thought that Todd Tichenor did an extremely good job. He handled it the way I like to see a person handle it. He didn't let the game get out of control by not taking charge. He didn't throw anybody out that didn't deserve to be thrown out. He did his job. The managers did their jobs. Varitek stuck up for his pitcher. That's baseball."
Shouldn't Tichenor have spoken to Beckett? Layne was the one to say something to Beckett.
"I just told [Beckett] something to the effect of, 'Let's control our emotions and get going,' " Layne said. "It was not a warning. It wasn't screaming and yelling or nothing like that. I just wanted to make sure that he understood that he had a job to do.
"He wasn't thrown out of the game. I would have talked to any pitcher in that situation because it was warranted to just go out and say, more or less, 'Let's play baseball.' "
Just before Varitek got tossed, Francona dashed out to protect him, but Francona lamented that he didn't get out of the dugout fast enough. Francona also got the heave and had a few choice words for Tichenor.
Tichenor is a veteran Triple A umpire with a lot of major league experience, according to Port. He was taking the spot of veteran Ed Montague, who is injured.
Before yesterday, you didn't hear Tichenor's name, which, for umpires, is a good sign.
But yesterday wasn't a great day for Tichenor. Now most Sox and Twins fans know his name because, as Bailey pointed out, "I don't think I've ever seen four guys tossed out of a game, let alone in the same inning."
Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.