As many people know, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price was involved in a verbal confrontation with team broadcaster and MLB Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on a team flight late last month; you can check out my July 1 article about it.
Details of the spat remained quiet for a few weeks. But it’s all out now.
In a Boston Globe column published Sunday by long-time Red Sox writer Dan Shaughnessy after Boston’s 2-1 series loss to the Angels, it’s revealed that Price was outraged at Eckersley for saying “Yuck” when Eduardo Rodriguez’s poor stats for a June 29 rehab start were displayed on the screen during NESN’s telecast that night.
The initial speculation was that Price was irked at Eckersley for commenting on his failure to cover first base on a ground ball in his start the same night. That also could’ve been part of it, but Shaughnessy describes Eckersley’s “Yuck” remark as the “tipping point” for Price.
So here’s what went down on the plane—Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft with several players surrounding him, waiting for Eckersley to come on board. When he did and approached the back of the plane to seat, Price stood in front of him and yelled, “Here he is—the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!”
When a surprised Eckersley tried to respond, Price fired back with, “Get the (expletive) out of here!”
What’s even more shocking is the fact that many teammates applauded this.
Price yelled “Get the (expletive) out of here!” a second time at Eckersley later on during the flight as he walked toward the front where general manager Dave Dombrowski was seated; Shaughnessy didn’t mention if there was applause that particular time.
The day after the flight when details of what was said were still unknown to the media, Price was asked about what happened. All he said was, “Some people just don’t understand how hard this game is.”
How can a guy who makes over $30 million a year be this thin-skinned? One has to believe the Red Sox had no idea it’d be this bad. Price is completely allergic to criticism, even when it doesn’t regard him. Who knew one little “Yuck” about a teammate’s ugly rehab start would drive a 31-year-old completely over the edge! And shame on the teammates who applauded him.
Would Price have confronted Eckersley alone? I seriously doubt it. Yeah, he’ll take someone like Evan Drellich aside in the clubhouse and scream in his face, but the Eck? Don’t see that happening. Price has to make sure his boys are there to back him up first! On the team flight! Really says A LOT about this team.
To make matters worse, three sources close to Eckersley have confirmed he is yet to receive an apology from anyone (as of Boston’s recent home series vs Toronto as Shaughnessy reports). Not Price, not manager John Farrell, no one. In a completely Farrell-esque response as to why this is the case, he said, “We have moved on and our focus is on winning games.”
Unsurprisingly, Eckersley isn’t on Boston’s current road trip and you can imagine why. Instead, former Red Sox relief pitcher Mike Timlin is providing the color commentary alongside Dave O’Brien for NESN telecasts.
What a headache this team is becoming. Grown men getting paid millions to act like children. Way too sensitive to criticism. No real leader. Is Price that leader? After all, his teammates—some of them anyway—applauded him verbally berating a Hall of Famer. That shows they’re on his side, which is as troubling as anything.
To quote Shaughnessy from his column: “It’s nonetheless fascinating that highly paid professionals can be so easily chapped by commentary that is far from harsh or scathing.”
Right on the money Dan, couldn’t have said it better. These are rich, professional athletes who have everything in the world. You should be able to handle a little criticism. The overall reaction to this criticism though has been unprofessional and awfully discouraging.
Time for this team to suck it up.
Props to Shaughnessy for releasing that column. Fans wanted to know exactly what happened, and he delivered. Shaughnessy said that while in Anaheim for Boston’s recent three-game set, he spoke with six people who witnessed the situation unfold. Gotta believe those six people don’t want any part of this drama, and weren’t applauding Price.
Price had three good starts in a row following the initial incident, going 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA (two ER in 20 IP). On Saturday, he took a loss allowing five earned runs in five innings to the Angels, and Shaughnessy’s column was released the next day.
How will Price respond on the mound after these recent developments? Will he keep lashing out at the media? Will his performance continue to falter? We can only see what happens from here on out. One thing’s for sure though, he hates it here in Boston and it’s obvious. Dombrowski probably regrets throwing him that seven year, $217 million deal. I would if I were him. What a joke of a contract. Price has an opt-out clause after 2018, but you gotta think that many fans would prefer him to get out of town sooner than that. One headache is already gone—Pablo Sandoval—what will Price’s fate be?
As for Eckersley, hopefully soon he receives the apology that he deserves. Everyone knows by now that he says it like it is. Good or bad, he’s a straight shooter, and has been for NESN since 2003. So he said “Yuck”, big freaking deal. There’s no way that’s deserving enough to be humiliated and berated on the team plane the way he was by Price and his wolfpack.
And for the team as a whole? As a fan, you just have to hope they’ll start acting like professionals. A reality check is certainly needed. With the Trade Deadline quickly approaching, will significant moves be made? Will the manager get fired? Lots of questions right now for a team that has all kinds of problems, on and off the field.
The Red Sox remain in first place in the AL East (two games ahead of NYY) with a 55-46 record, but are just 5-7 since the All-Star break. Boston has dropped three in a row, including a 4-0 loss last night to Seattle which was their ninth offensive shutout of the season, the most in the majors (were held scoreless just six times in 2016).
Drew Pomeranz takes the hill for Boston tonight at Safeco Field opposed by Felix Hernandez, as Red Sox top prospect Rafael Devers is set to make his major league debut at third base. An era begins! Hopefully the era of immaturity on this team will start to subside, though.