Aside from Andrew Benintendi’s haircut, the biggest news out of Sox Spring Training was David Price’s interview yesterday. The controversial sometimes-starting pitcher appeared calm, cool, and collected, all departures from his attitude for most of his time in Boston. When he spoke with the media, Price acknowledged his problematic past season, saying:
“I could’ve handled it better last year, absolutely. But I didn’t, and I’ve moved on. I feel like I’ve always been one to lead with my actions, and I didn’t do that very well last year. I know that and understand that, and I look forward to getting back and being that faucet and not being a drain.” [via ESPN]
Well, that’s certainly very nice. And we’ll all be looking to see if those are empty words this season, or if this truly is a new and improved Price.
I’m not trying to be pessimistic about Price; I’m just being realistic. We’ve heard this kind of talk from Fort Meyer Price before, and Fenway Price is a different animal, much like Jimmy Fallon’s Fever Pitch character being a devoted boyfriend during the off-season, but a neglectful, selfish one once baseball season starts up. It’s easy to say you’ve changed and to smile and play nice with the media on the literal Day 1 of the baseball season. Price hasn’t had to face them after a rough game or a fight with a Hall of Famer; this cheerful, evolved David Price has yet to be tested.
Price spent a good chunk of the 2017 season sitting on the sidelines, only pitching 74 2/3 innings. With his excess of free time, he tried to turn younger, impressionable players against the media and he himself verbally sparred with a bevy of opponents. In June, he screamed at a reporter at Yankee Stadium. In July, he had a gross confrontation with Dennis Eckersley on the team plane. He says these issues are behind him, and that he’d be willing to clear the air with Eck and resume media interviews on specific terms, sans negativity.
But these accommodations Price says he’s willing to make are just a different form of the diva behavior we’re accustomed to seeing from him. Reporters, for the most part, are just doing their job when they talk to athletes. Eckersley was doing his job when commentating on Eduardo Rodriguez’s pitching, and his assessment (“Yuck”) might have been insulting, but it was accurate. And it wasn’t even about Price. If Price has a bad game, he can’t just blow the media off on grounds that it’s negativity; to be the team leader he claims he is and wants to be, he’ll have to own his crap.
I hope that David Price can back up this interview with a season of strong pitching and a good attitude. I think that Boston is willing to give him a do-over – especially after his dominant ALDS performance – but he’ll have to continue to earn it by staying healthy and playing nice; one nice interview during Spring Training won’t magically solve everything. Otherwise, he can opt out of his contract next winter, we’ll go our separate ways, and Price can try to find another team willing to pay him the $127 million left on his contract. After this off-season, I doubt he wants to join the free-agent melee. But on our end, it would definitely be nice not to include David Price’s name in the list of overpriced assholes we regret signing. Let 2018 be the year without another Adrian Gonzalez or Pablo Sandoval!
I know we’re a difficult bunch here in Boston. After two seasons, David Price knows it all too well. We don’t take it easy on our teams or players. But we also root harder, scream louder, and love more passionately than any fan base in the world. If David Price does right by us on the mound and throws us a tip of his cap or a smile once in a while, he’ll get to keep his lucrative contract. In my first-ever article for WTP Sports, I concluded by saying, “I’m fine with being a fan of a team full of idiots, or rooting for a team that is 90% beard, but I am not okay rooting for a team of assholes.” Bottom line: if this is yet another season of David the Douche, well, just picture the hyenas going to town on Scar at the end of The Lion King.