Tetchy Tichenor Kicked Out Four and a Good Time Was Had by All

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Tetchy Tichenor Kicked Out Four and a Good Time Was Had by All
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

An umpire’s job is a stressful one.  If he does his job properly, no one remembers him.  If he screws things up royally, it’s only then that his name makes the headlines.

Boston and Minnesota fans won’t forget young umpire Todd Tichenor’s name soon.

Thursday’s game would have been royally entertaining in any case, even without the seventh-inning dramatics.  Swarzak and Beckett dueled it out, pounding in strikes and knocking down batters on both sides, inning after inning. 

Josh Beckett allowed only three hits over seven innings, striking out eight.  It would seem Vintage Beckett is truly back on Boston’s table.

Meanwhile, Red Sox offense came almost exclusively from a power display by Jason Varitek, whose return to form continues to startle.  Varitek homered in consecutive at bats, launching the second high into the upper decks for his 10th longball of the season. 

Who would have believed six months ago that, at the close of May, Tek would have as many home runs as Youkilis, Pedroia, Ortiz, and Ellsbury combined?

But it was the seventh inning that made this game truly memorable.  Catchers and managers got yanked like bad molars at a dentist’s convention.

Mike Redmond, catching for the Twins, had never been ejected in his long career.  He protested a call at home, insisting he’d tagged Jeff Bailey before Bailey touched the plate.  Or at least, that’s what he tried to say.  He got about three words in before Todd Tichenor tossed him. 

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire asked what was up, and got the same treatment for his trouble.

Half an inning later, it was Boston’s turn to watch the crowds thin in their dugout: Beckett didn’t like a called ball, and got loud about it in what he later called, “baseball terms.”  Varitek jumped up to grab Tichenor’s focus and keep Beckett in the game. 

The ploy worked, but it only took a few seconds more for Tek to join the mass exodus.  Terry Francona moved in fast to protect Tek, but not fast enough. 

Tichenor finished things nice and symmetrical: Tito, too, got the boot.

Four men.  One inning.  No brawling, no contact, and not much even in the strong language department, barring what was probably yelled after the ejections.

Very impressive, no?

Crew chief Jerry Layne stayed moderate when asked about the drama.  Tichenor did his job, Layne told us. And Francona and Gardenhire did their jobs, protecting their players.  And Varitek “took one for the team,” doing his job, protecting his pitcher.  Everyone did his job. 

No one did anything wrong.  It’s just that four people got ejected in rapid succession…

Presumably, it’s as proper for Layne to stand by his crew as for the players to stand by their teammates.  Bully for Layne.

For the rest of us?  We get to ask loudly just what was up:

-       Are ejections like peanuts to Tichenor, and he couldn’t stop at one?

 

-      Did Tichenor listen all too well when his mother told him, “when in doubt, throw it out,” and decided that should work for baseball too?

 

-      Did he forget to stretch before the game, and found the kicking-people-out arm wave wonderfully therapeutic?

Odds are, of course, it was just insecurity.  He’s young.  He’s a rookie at the job.  He was quick to try to prove he had control, because he didn’t.

An umpire with matters in hand would have told Redmond, “He’s safe.  That’s it,” and would be done with it.  He’d have told Tek, “Ok, you’ve done your duty.  Now cool it and get back in your squat,” and he’d have moved on. 

But Tichenor?  Nah.  He was on a roll.

The actual dialog, so far as it can be reconstructed:

 

[Top of the seventh: Baily is called safe at home by Tichenor]

Redmond:  I got his arm!

Tichenor:  Yeer OUTahere.

 [Enter Gardenhire, Stage Left]

Gardenhire:  What did you just toss my catcher for?

Tichenor:   Yeer OUTahere.

Gardenhire: [!@#!%^&*!!, etc.]

[Bottom of the seventh:  in reference to a called ball, Beckett yells in some choice “baseball terms.” Varitek intervenes.]

Varitek: [To himself]: Nothing else for it.  [To Tichenor]: That ball caught the outside…

Tichenor: Yeeer OUTahere.

[Enter Francona, Stage Right]

Francona: Hey, don’t…

Tichenor: Yeer OUTahere.

 [Francona responds via assorted choice baseball terms.]

 

No, we didn’t get a brawl to entertain us in Thursday’s game, but if there’s a next-best-thing, it just might be this new art of anti-brawl: guys getting ejected one after another for not, in fact, doing anything.  There’s real entertainment to be had there, too, and Todd Tichenor gave us that gift two times over. 

Way to go, Todd: It was a show to remember. 

We thank you.

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