Lamont, Leyland ejected after missed call

Lamont, Leyland ejected after missed call

Lamont, Leyland ejected after missed call
BOSTON -- Catcher Gerald Laird tried to show the scuff-free ball to argue his case that Mike Aviles had struck out to end the second inning. First-base umpire Bill Welke stuck to his decision that Aviles fouled the pitch into the dirt before Laird could catch it. Once the Red Sox rallied for three go-ahead runs from there, the frustrations earned ejections for both Tigers manager Jim Leyland and third-base coach Gene Lamont.

The frustration from a contentious road trip for Tigers coaches and umpires -- leading to five ejections, two for Leyland, over the past six days -- came to a boiling point for Leyland, who said after the Tigers' 7-4 loss to the Red Sox on Monday that the media needs to chronicle the calls.

"You know what? We're all accountable in this business," said Leyland, who also serves on Commissioner Bud Selig's Special Committee for On-Field Matters. "All of us are accountable, and when I say all of us, I mean everybody that's involved in the game needs to be held accountable. That's exactly what needs to be done.

"There should not have been a rally in that inning. Now anybody that saw that, have the nerve to write what you saw and say it, because I'm not going to sit here and rip umpires. But you saw what you saw, clearly saw what you saw. I just saw it for the tenth time."

Both ejections came in the wake of a disputed 0-2 pitch to Aviles with two outs in the second inning. Home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson said Aviles swung and missed at a Doug Fister curveball, but Aviles claimed he fouled off the ball and Laird caught it on a bounce.

Nelson, Laird said, went to Welke for a ruling. Welke overruled Nelson and said the ball wasn't caught. That's where the contentiousness started.

"I guess Nellie said he didn't see it," Laird said of Nelson. "I said, 'Nellie, I caught it clean.' So he asked for help, and that's when Welke stepped in and said he thought it hit the dirt."

Replays showed Laird did indeed catch the ball and that Aviles missed the pitch entirely. Laird held up the ball to try to show the lack of marks on it to both Nelson and Welke, but it was to no avail.

"It's a tough call, don't get me wrong," Laird said. "I don't understand how somebody from 120 feet sees it better than someone back here, when you can clearly look at the baseball and see if there's a dirt mark or a scuff -- because if you foul a ball in the dirt, it's going to make a mark. And I even showed him the ball. There's no mark."

Said Leyland: "I'm the most patient man in the world with umpires, protect them more than anybody, and I understand the human element involved in the game. But you're 120 feet away. Clearly you have to be 110 percent sure. You can't be guessing at that call."

Aviles' reaction after the game seemed to suggest the same.

"I'm pretty sure he caught it, but I'm not sure," said Aviles. "I haven't even checked the replay. I thought it might have bounced, but I don't know. The first thing I said was 'bounce.' I didn't want to strike out. I don't know anybody who wants to strike out. I honestly don't know 100 percent, but he might have caught it."

Two pitches later, Aviles took advantage, hitting the first of three consecutive RBI hits and ruffling the Tigers further over the call as what had been a 1-1 game became a 4-1 Red Sox lead.

Once Fister retired Adrian Gonzalez, the rally was over, but the arguments were just starting. As the Tigers went to bat in the next half-inning, players in their dugout exchanged words with third-base umpire Tim Tschida, who had nothing to do with the play but serves as the crew chief.

"I was just basically saying to clean it up," Laird said. "I know he's the crew chief, and I'm just saying that can't happen. I mean, Tim's a great guy. They're all great guys. I was just telling him that can't happen."

Once Tschida began answering back at the Tigers' dugout, that's when Lamont got involved.

"He yelled and I said, 'Tim, you're going to have to take some heat when you make calls like that,'" Lamont said. "And I said, 'Well, you cost us three runs.' And he pretty much told me that was enough, and I said something else, and he kicked me out."

It was the first time Lamont has been ejected as a Tigers coach. Lamont said he couldn't remember being ejected since his first stint coaching under Leyland in the 1980s.

Leyland stormed out of the dugout and picked up the argument, waving his arms at Tschida, who did not eject him. Once he kept arguing from the dugout, Welke ejected Leyland.

It marked Leyland's third ejection of the season and second of the road trip. He was ejected from Thursday's game in Cleveland, along with first-base coach Tom Brookens, over a disputed missed balk on Justin Masterson, which was clearly on Leyland's mind as he talked about Monday's call.

"I'm not looking to get into any of that kind of stuff," Leyland said. "All I'm telling you is when I have an incident in a short period of time where four umpires don't see anything that was flagrant and now today one sees one from 120 feet away that's not even close to being accurate, that has a tendency to [tick] you off after a while. That's just the way it is. I'm sorry."

Brookens took over in the third-base coaching box for Lamont. Rafael Belliard, who filled in for Brookens at first base last Thursday, took the same post Monday. Lloyd McClendon, who was ejected from last Wednesday's game at Cleveland for arguing a 3-0 strike to Miguel Cabrera, took the lineup card from Leyland and took over as manager.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.