Christ what a mess this has been. This crap happened in 2017. It followed David Price like a lingering fart for over a year until he finally conquered his postseason demons and helped lead the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series championship. All was well until this past July, when Dennis Eckersley made the slightest reference to the feud in a magazine interview and Price retorted like someone had keyed his Bentley. Up till that point in 2019, Price had been the most reliable Red Sox starting pitcher and looked as good as he had looked throughout the 2018 postseason. In the four starts Price has made since his response to Eckersley’s comment, he has given up 20 earned runs on 30 hits in 17 innings, has made it out of the fifth inning only once, and the Red Sox have lost each game en route to slipping out of playoff contention. As soon as he opened his mouth to say something bitchy, Price completely lost his ability to get people out.
I’m in the mood for self-flagellation, so let’s do a quick recap of this clown show.
Back in 2017, Eduardo Rodriguez was in Pawtucket on a rehab assignment after recovering from a knee injury that had plagued him for quite awhile. Boston fans had been hoping for big things from Rodriguez, a promising young pitcher who has shown alternating flashes of brilliance and garbage throughout his tenure. During one NESN broadcast, the stat line from ERod’s latest rehab start appeared on the screen:
3 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, 9 H. Against minor leaguers.
Eckersley summed up that performance in one word: “Yuck.”
That’s probably not the way you’d expect the local color commentator to react on the air, but it was a completely accurate summation of Rodriguez’ performance that night and true to Eck’s typical honest, off-the-cuff style.
Later that night, Price awaited Eck’s arrival on the team plane as a collection of his teammates gathered around him. When Eckersley boarded, the beleaguered ace ambushed the Hall of Famer and yelled:
“Here he is – the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!”
When Eckersley tried to respond, Price cut him off and screamed “Get the f*** outta here!”
Let’s break down Price’s diatribe here.
“Here he is – the greatest pitcher who ever lived!”
Dennis Eckersley is one of two pitchers with a 20-win season and a 50-save season. He’s the only pitcher in MLB history with 150 wins and 300 saves. He has filled the two most important roles a major league pitcher can fill, performing one of them at a high level for the first 10 years of his career and performing the other better than anybody in the league for the last 10.
So yes, David. From a certain standpoint, one could say that he is the greatest pitcher who ever lived.
“This game is easy for him!”
Dennis Eckersley pitched in the major leagues for 24 years. He went 13-7 in his rookie year at age 20. He won 197 games and saved 390. He threw a no-hitter and won 20 games as a starter. He had 100 career complete games. He saved 51 games and won both the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards in the same season as a closer. He saved all four games against Boston to win the 1988 ALCS MVP. He walked 16 guys in 207 innings from 1989 – 1991. He won a World Series.
And by the way, he’s in the damn Hall of Fame.
So yes, David. This game is actually pretty frigging easy for him.
And what is the reason for Price getting so pissed off at Eckersley? Because he saw that a major leaguer got his ass kicked by minor leaguers in a rehab start and said Yuck. Not “this guy blows” … not “what a loser” … not “even Price could’ve done better than this” … Yuck. In a generation of snowflakes, this complaint makes David Price stand out as particularly whiny.
Would anybody, even Eduardo Rodriguez, ever dispute that kind of reaction to a major league pitcher getting his ass handed to him by AAA players like that? Did Price think that Rodriguez was happy with that performance? Why would David Price have an issue with a color commentator commentating in a colorful fashion?
Cut to two motherloving years later, as Eckersley is being interviewed by a magazine the way that legendary athletes will be interviewed by magazines from time to time. When asked about the dust-up on the plane in 2017, Eck said: “I didn’t know how to deal with that. I don’t plan on saying a word to him, I don’t plan on seeing him, never … I don’t really give a sh** one way or another. I don’t think he really cares one way or the other.”
Eck essentially said screw that guy. But he also implied that Price probably feels the same way, so he wasn’t placing himself above Price or anything like that.
“Honestly, I just think it’s trash. He had an unbelievable career and he’s a Hall of Famer. I saw his special on MLB Network. It was cool. The one thing that stood out to me was that he had zero former teammates in that interview. Not one talking about him. It was him talking about himself.”
The MLB Network special was entitled Eck on Eck. So the show was designed to be himself talking about himself.
Price wasn’t done yet though.
“If anybody ever does a special on me after baseball, I won’t need to go on that interview. I will have former teammates. I will have former coaches. He didn’t have that. To me, that’s all you need to know. That tells the story right there.”
When asked about the creation of the special, the producer pointed out that they interviewed a bunch of Eck’s former teammates, all of which thought he was a great guy and loved him. The teammate interviews were cut for time considerations, however, since the show was called Eck on Eck.
Wade Boggs noted, “everyone in the game loves Eck. He was a great teammate.” Then he pretty much said David Price is a whiny bitch.
So when Price said “that tells the story right there” … it turned out that that did not in fact tell the story at all right there.
Price later responded to a critique … by a fan … on Twitter … that he had scheduled a meeting with Eck to hash out their problems, but Eck bailed on the meeting. I guess Price took offense to being stood up like that. I have to admit that is kind of rude. That’s about as rude as screaming at somebody on an airplane full of colleagues and coworkers and then telling them to get the f*** outta here when they try to respond.
The word on Price has always been that he’s a great teammate. I’m sure he is. His teammates all say very nice things about him. So I guess what this whole incident tells us is that you can be a great teammate and still be an a-hole. A tone-deaf, thin-skinned, jittery, scared little a-hole that takes two minutes between every pitch.
Don’t you hate people that have to tell you how good a person they are? Doesn’t that make you automatically think that they’re really a crappy person that’s trying to convince you otherwise? I’m not saying David Price is really a crappy person. He’s got a kid. He had a dog that just died. I’m sure he has some good qualities. But sounding like someone who is not a prick is not one of those qualities.
The worst part of all this is that the great season he was having up until this crap got rehashed all went right into the toilet immediately. The Red Sox were collapsing and he couldn’t do his part to try to right the ship because the off-field nonsense got into his head and he couldn’t focus on pitching. That’s the biggest reason I don’t like David Price. He knows deep down that his performance suffers whenever he opens up his mouth and bitches about something. And the fact that he conquered his playoff woes and probably should have been World Series MVP last year did nothing to alter that narrative. David Price is finally a champion. But in his heart, David Price is still a frightened, sensitive kid that is desperate for everyone to like him.
And he is no Dennis Eckersley.