By Maureen Mullen
BOSTON By the time the game ended, with the Red Sox losing, 9-2 to the Twins, manager Terry Francona had gotten his emotions in check. Several hours earlier, on the Fenway Park field, though was a different story. In a rare outburst, Francona showed his displeasure and frustration at the balk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez called on Tim Wakefield in the second inning. But, it wasnt so much the call that upset Francona. It was his inability to get an explanation on it.
With the Twins up, 3-0, in the second, two outs, two runs already across the plate in the inning, and runners on first and third, it appeared Wakefield, who faked a throw to third and threw to first, had picked Ben Revere off first base. Instead, Hernandez immediately called a balk. Instead of the Sox getting out of the inning, the Twins scored another run.
Francona approached Hernandez for an explanation of the play. He was quickly rebuffed and ejected. The situation escalated with Francona frustrated in his inability to get an explanation. Crew chief Joe West, umpiring third base, attempted to intervene, but the situation rapidly deteriorated. Francona became irate at Wests attempts to hold him away from Hernandez. As Francona left the field, he removed the tobacco from his mouth, firing it in Hernandezs direction. Francona will likely face a suspension and possibly a fine for his efforts.
I actually never did get an explanation. I got thrown out because I came out. And since I was already thrown out I figured I could get an explanation. But Joe wouldnt let me.
Managers, coaches, and players are not allowed to argue balls, strikes or balks.
Not allowed to even ask, which is to me very silly, Francona said. You get a run added. You think youre out of an inning. I dont understand why you cant find out what you think somebody did. I understand if you go out and scream at somebody, you get thrown out. That just seems like a little bit of a silly rule.
I know the rule. But to be honest with you, the way it happened I got out there so quick because I was stunned that, and then Angel said if you come out here before I even talked I was thrown out. So I figured Id find out. Its kind of hard to sit there and not find out what happened in a play like that. Ive seen Wake do that 30 times.
Francona is no stranger to being ejected. Fridays ejection was the 31st of his managerial career. He was also ejected once as a player and once as a coach. He had already been ejected once this season, on April 19 in Oakland, also for arguing a balk call.
He was unhappy with Wests intervention.
Joe, as we all know, always wants to be in everybodys business, Francona said. That was me and Angel. Joe didnt have anything to do with it. I didnt really appreciate what he did. I think he was wrong.
There was contact between Francona and West.
He was grabbing me, Francona said. I didnt appreciate that. I thought it was wrong. I thought he was out of line.
Later, Hernandez called a balk on Alfredo Aceves.
It was about as much of a balk as youre going to see, Francona said. I wanted to run back out and tell him he got it right.
Francona is unsure what fate awaits him
I dont know, he said. Well see. It doesnt matter. I already got thrown out of the game and we lost. So thats really all I care about.
The scene, though, represented a microcosm of the Sox 2011 season frustration, an inability to find answers, and coming out on the losing end.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen