BOSTON — First, Carl Everett and umpire Ron Kulpa argued about whether the Boston Red Sox star's foot was crossing the inside line of the batter's box.
Then, Everett crossed a different kind of line.
Everett bumped and head-butted Kulpa after being ejected in the second inning Saturday as the Red Sox beat the New York Mets, 6-4, capping a testy three-game series.
"He freaked out, or lost his cool, whatever you want to call it," the Mets' Mike Piazza said.
Everett and Kulpa refused to comment after the game.
Everett will almost certainly be hit with a stiff penalty. Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox is currently serving a five-game suspension, imposed after he appeared to slightly bump umpire Derryl Cousins with his elbow in a July 4 game against Montreal.
Red Sox Manager Jimy Williams accused the Mets of setting up the entire confrontation before the game by asking the umpires to check Everett's stance.
"I know it came from the other side," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind."
The Mets had complained Friday night that Everett was standing too close to the plate after Dennis Cook was ejected for plunking him in the shoulder.
But Met pitcher Mike Hampton said Kulpa acted on his own.
"The umpire was taking it upon himself," he said. "It's his job."
Piazza said Kulpa warned Everett as soon as he got inside the batter's box during his first at-bat.
"The umpire said, 'Carl, you've got to get in the box' before the first pitch," Piazza said. "Then [Everett] drew a line and said, 'As long as I'm on the line I'm in.'
With a 2-and-2 count, Kulpa again indicated that Everett's back foot had crossed the line of the batter's box and drew a proper boundary with his foot as Williams jogged out.
But before Williams could get there, Everett and Kulpa had exchanged words, and Everett had been ejected.
"When he was getting upset, I was out of there," Piazza said. "He was not in a good mood. I didn't want to get hit with any of the cross-fire."
That's when Everett lost control.
Everett slammed down his helmet, bumped Kulpa and then head-butted him, causing Kulpa to grab the bridge of his nose. Everett had to be restrained by first base coach Tommy Harper and later by teammate Jose Offerman.