When you see a headline that goes "Parent tossed before game," and it pertains to the Chicago White Sox, it makes you wonder if Paul Konerko's dad was visiting, got a little too excited and forgot that this ain't Little League anymore. But no. It was "Parent" as in Mark Parent, the bench coach for manager Robin Ventura. He was ejected by umpires Sunday afternoon before the White Sox game against the Texas Rangers even had started — during the lineup card exchange at home plate.
If that seems like an odd time for an ejection, it is, except for this: Ballplayers, umpires and coaches can have long memories that go all of the way back to the previous game. No matter what it is, it doesn't have to happen that day to stick in someone's craw.
And Parent dislodged whatever it was by arguing with the umps, including crew chief Jerry Layne, who gave him the ol' heave ho right in front White Sox catcher Josh Phegley, a coach from the Rangers, a TV cameraman and a stunned lady.
Parent wasn't around after the game (won 5-2 by the White Sox) to explain what happened, and Adam Dunn made a joke about exchanging Christmas cards, but Ventura said the argument stemmed from a disagreement Saturday night.
"Yeah, it was just something from last night," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Parent. "It's over, and [you] play."
That "something" was not specified. But the White Sox had a couple of controversial calls go against them during the first two games of this weekend set.
On Friday, Ian Kinsler raced around the bases for an inside-the-park homer when his line drive down the left-field line got wedged underneath some padding on the wall. Third-base umpire Greg Gibson ruled that left fielder Dayan Viciedo could see the baseball and did not call a ground-rule double.
It was Hunter Wendelstedt who called Alexei Ramirez out at the plate on a Paul Konerko single to left in Saturday's victory. The play was close, but on replay, it looked as if catcher A.J. Pierzynski had blocked Ramirez from scoring.
Presumably because Parent thought the White Sox collectively hadn't gotten their point across already, he took it up with the umpires and sacrificed himself for the common good. OK. His actions also raise another point unintentionally.
It's hard to say what a bench coach does. They didn't used to have them in Major League Baseball. Now, every team has one. They only get noticed a couple of different ways: One, when taking out the lineup card before the game. Two, when the manager gets thrown out of the game by the umpires. Usually, then, the bench coach takes over. It used to be the third-base coach, or maybe the pitching coach. With a bench coach hanging around, those guys don't have to worry about shirking their usual duties if they have to manage in a pinch.
So, thanks, Mark Parent. Now we know what a bench coach does.
Update: Phegley, a rookie who seems to be very funny, said this about the exchange via the Chicago Tribune:
"I went out there and there was a lady out there helping him take the lineup card out," Phegley said. "She was kind of standing back from the group. That was interesting. So I started talking to her and I asked Alan Porter, the home plate umpire: 'Did (Parent) get ran right there?' And (Porter) was like, 'Yeah, he did.'
"So I said, 'Well, we're getting along already.' "