By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — All that’s left for David Price in Boston is to pitch better. He’s off to a good start in 2017, but the good start needs to turn into a good season – and preferably, a good postseason. He wants the negativity to go away, but the only way for that to truly happen is to be better.
Price could not have made it more clear on Wednesday that he is done dealing with the Boston sports media, a frequently aggressive and harshly, relentlessly critical entity. He told the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy – who, ironically, is basically the godfather of everything Price hates about the media – that he will no longer speak to reporters on days he’s not pitching. Under the current CBA, he’s not even required to speak after days he does start, although it’s strongly encouraged and described as a “responsibility” of players.
He followed up that story with an apparent profane meltdown in the halls leading to the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, where he reportedly yelled at CSNNE’s Evan Drellich over literally tweeting Price’s own words from Shaughnessy’s column and told the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley, “Write whatever the [expletive] you want.”
I wouldn’t say that someone like Buckley deserves that level of vitriol. I can’t claim to have read every word of Buckley’s in the past two years, but I’d venture to guess that as far as writers and media figures who have been critical of Price, Buckley is fairly low on the list.
It was certainly over-the-top for Price to act this way, especially when Drellich in particular was simply reporting actual quotes from Price’s own mouth. But ultimately, Price doesn’t owe the media another word. Not as an official requirement, anyway. The only ones who feel Price needs to answer to the media are the media.
But he does owe it to his teammates to pitch better than he has over the course of his young Red Sox career. He owes it to the organization to live up to his seven-year, $210 million contract.
He absolutely pitched better than he did for most of all last season when he started against the Orioles in Baltimore last Saturday, allowing just one earned run on three hits in seven dominant innings. If that performance is a byproduct of telling off the media, then he can go on all the profanity-laced tirades he wants.
When Shaughnessy asked Price how he enjoys Boston, Price said: “I love my teammates, man. That’s what I came here for. I came here to be with these young guys and to have a chance to win a World Series. We have that opportunity, not just for this year but for a long time coming. That’s what I want to be a part of.”
When asked if he likes pitching for the Red Sox organization, Price said: “I love this team. We’ve got a really good team. I like the organization. Everybody’s been there for me for the entire time through the ups and downs. Everything. They’ve shown a tremendous amount of support for me, so I’m going to give it back.”
Fair enough. Price wants to succeed with those who have supported him within the Red Sox, so he’s putting it on himself to pitch better than he has. And if he truly wants to win a World Series, he will absolutely have to pitch better in October than he has over the course of his career.
Shaughnessy can support Price all he wants; facts are facts and the fact is Price is 0-8 with a 5.74 ERA in nine career playoff starts. Perhaps the criticism and negativity is over-the-top sometimes, but criticism of his playoff numbers is beyond fair.
Price has also shown publicly how much attention he’s paid to criticisms of his poor playoff performance on Twitter. He admitted to Shaughnessy that he still checks Twitter sometimes, if only for 30 seconds a day. But if he’s now going to ignore those negative tweets, and it’s helping him pitch better like he did in Baltimore last Saturday, then it could be a win for everyone who’s not hopelessly cynical.
In a way, Price has been his own worst enemy when it comes to how he’s dealt with all the scrutiny that’s simply a part of playing in Boston. After nearly a century of heartbreak and colossal disappointment, even three World Series titles in 10 seasons won’t totally wash away the overly dramatic nature that’s in the DNA of much of Red Sox Nation. Price has faced the brunt of that drama in his season-and-a-half in Boston, and now it appears he’s simply fed up.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the Red Sox will need Price to stay healthy and pitch well for the rest of the season for them to be a serious contender in the American League. He will need to subvert his prior playoff failures. If Price can be better for a full season and the playoffs, he can never say another word for all I care. But he needs to do it, or the scrutiny won’t go away.
He may not owe that to the media, or even the fans, but he certainly owes it to his team.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.