By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — On Wednesday evening, CSNNE’s Evan Drellich tweeted a direct quote from David Price.
This apparently made David Price very, very angry.
As reported by Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, Price pulled Drellich aside after the Red Sox’ loss to the Yankees and berated him loudly enough for reporters on the other side of a closed door to hear. Price later continued his confrontation with Drellich, and also snapped at Buckley (who had been told by the Red Sox media relations director to stick around to talk to Price).
The interactions with Price ended when he shouted, “[Expletive] them! [Expletive] them all. All of them.”
As one might imagine, such a meltdown drew attention, and it will assuredly be discussed in the days and weeks to come.
As well it should. No, not because it’s vitally important that players give stock quotes to beat reporters whenever asked. Quotes in the newspaper don’t win any baseball games or strike out any batters. They’re just quotes. A pitcher can succeed on the mound while simultaneously stonewalling the media.
This is not about that. So don’t misconstrue the message.
The story, really, is that over the past several months, Price has peeled back some layers to reveal that he simply cannot handle being talked about in anything but an overwhelmingly positive light. That really is not an accusation; it’s more an observation of Price’s own behavior.
Granted, the whole “CAN HE HANDLE BOSTON?!” narrative is a bit obsolete. The daily media covering the team is not ruthless, like it once was. The team broadcast presents an extraordinarily team-and-player-friendly package for fans to consume every night. Expectations remain high, yes, but the three titles in 10 years worked to remove much of the irrational urgency of the fan base. And with Fenway Park now operating as an offshoot of Disney World, it actually does live up to its “friendly” trademark these days. Fans at the park are generally quite content.
There may remain a sliver of truth to the notion, but not really. Rick Porcello couldn’t handle Boston in 2015; he won a Cy Young with Boston in 2016.
But in the case of Price, this simply does not seem like the best place for him mentally or emotionally. And he’s making the argument against himself.
Sept, 28, 2016: Discontent While Dripping In Champagne
The Red Sox clinched the AL East in bizarre fashion last year, “winning” the division while losing to the Yankees on a walk-off grand slam. Despite the odd circumstances, the Red Sox celebrated in typical beer-and-champagne fashion, as baseball teams do.
Despite the celebratory atmosphere, Price responded sarcastically to a very straightforward, non-threatening question from CSNNE’s Trenni Kusnierek. Actually, she didn’t even get to ask the question before Price took a preemptive strike at those who said he only chose Boston for the money.
Kusnierek: “David, I know one of the reasons that you wanted to sign with the Red Sox is because of the roster they have, the potential that they have …”
Price: “No, it was the $217 million they gave me. That’s why I came here. Period. That’s why.”
Ironically, that comment came immediately after he said the Red Sox don’t “listen to the outside noise.”
(USA Today reported in December 2015 that Price fully expected to become a member of the Cardinals, but that was before the Red Sox offered $30 million more.)
Oct. 7, 2016: Playoff Record Correction
The major knock on Price when he signed with the Red Sox was that he had not been successful in the postseason — 0-7 as a starter in fact. And so, when he fell to 0-8 after getting tagged for five runs on six hits and two walks while retiring just 10 batters in his lone playoff start last year, he naturally faced a question about that history.
But even after such a sound defeat, he was quick to promote the two postseason wins he has gotten as a relief pitcher.
Once again, Kusnierek asked the question.
Kusnierek: “How do you combat sort of the frustration that comes with each time everyone brings up the fact that [you’re] still winless in the postseason?”
Price: “Uhh, I’ve got two wins in the playoffs, just not as a starter.”
Considering he had just gotten shelled by the Indians, and considering his team was now in a 2-0 hole in a best-of-five series, that maybe wasn’t the best time to correct the record.
Additionally, when you consider that one of those wins came a full eight years prior to the comment and the other came in an outing when he gave up three runs in three innings after his manager felt he was not exactly vital to the pitching rotation, such wins should not be considered high-water marks in a career.
November 2016: Self-Burns On Twitter
After getting ribbed for his lack of playoff success by a random person on Twitter, Price characterized the comment as “hatred.” It was a strong descriptor, but perhaps indicated what Price considers such comments to be.
Price then decided to turn the tables by roasting himself on Twitter before anyone else could. It was odd.
When he arrived in Hawaii for his wedding, this was Price’s first course of action:
Again, he was in Hawaii to get married. He was presumably quite happy — so happy that he wanted to share the experience with his 1.7 million Twitter followers. But not happy enough to do so without making a playoff comment.
While in Hawaii, he also corrected someone who said he was 0-8 in the playoffs when signing with the Red Sox.
He felt like he couldn’t talk about football without mentioning his playoff record.
When someone made a joke about Price sharing bunk beds with Barstool Sports’ Jared Carrabis, Price tweeted, “Nah it’s because I didn’t win a playoff game #0-8”
Thousands (millions?) of people get grief on Twitter every day. That’s sort of the basis of the social media platform. Few have chosen to go this route in an effort to combat the commentary.
Jan. 13, 2017: No Fun In Boston
A contract is just a contract and a person is still a person, yes, so Price should be commended for being honest when he told Peter Abraham that 2016 was simply not fun.
“Last year was the first time in my career I didn’t have fun when I was on the field,” Price told Abraham. “When I’m pitching well, I’m smiling. There wasn’t a lot of smiling.”
Again, honesty is good. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what exactly was so bad? He didn’t pitch exceptionally, but he was not a catastrophe. He retired more batters than any other pitcher in Major League Baseball. He had some fun-loving young teammates, one of whom won the Cy Young, and he was part of just the eighth Red Sox team to ever win the AL East.
We can recognize some of the pitching struggles, but when he went 13-7 with a 3.25 ERA from early May to mid-September, it feels like there would have been some opportunity for smiling while pitching well.
March 7, 2017: The Coffee Victim
Price did an interview with The Boston Globe’s Stan Grossfeld in what appeared to be a designed PR effort from the Red Sox to revive Price’s public image heading into a new year. (John Henry, owner of the Red Sox, also owns The Boston Globe.) It was, through and through, a fluff piece.
Here’s a sampling of the interrogation Price endured.
Q: I guess everyone wants to know about your dog Astro. He’s getting up there, isn’t he?
Q. Why are people on your case? You won 17 games. For most anyone on earth, that’s a good season.
Q. What about driving in Boston. Is it crazy?
Q. What about Jordans [sneakers]? Why do you love them so much? You bought the team a pallet of them.
Q. What size are your shoes?
Q. You’re David Price, the human being.
Clearly, this was not an instance of Price being grilled by the media with uncomfortable questions. But still, Price managed to make himself out to be the victim.
During the interview, Price had purchased boxes of coffee for trainers and coaches at Starbucks. In his head, he could already see people giving him a hard time for not going with Boston’s chosen coffee chain.
Q. We can do something about it. People don’t know you’re bringing coffee to the trainers at 6:45 a.m.
A. People don’t care. I’m going to catch crap for bringing in Starbucks — sorry this is not Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m going to catch crap for that 100 percent. I could quote John 3:16 right now and I would get nothing but negativity. Period. You can’t please everybody.
What he’s saying isn’t entirely false. Many people on Twitter are quite miserable. But … why does this matter? If @JohnP0928030927 says “U should have gotten Dunks u bum,” that should not affect anybody except for John P0928030927 (if that is his real name).
April 25, 2017: Twitter Press Conferences
After dealing with elbow trouble in spring training, Price had to slowly and patiently work his way back into full health. And with many steps involved in that process, Price knew he would have to provide some updates on his status along the way.
Yet instead of just talking to the reporters who cover the team on a daily basis, Price held his own press conference on Twitter.
Really, Price provided all the information needed. But what exactly was he avoiding? Anyone who’s ever seen a press scrum for a recovering pitcher knows that it typically consists of about three questions:
1. What did you do out there?
2. How did you feel out there?
3. Are you excited to get back out there?
It’s not exactly like taking the witness stand and facing a desperate prosecutor.
May 24, 2017: Speeding Off In The Batmobile
Price got walloped by the Louisville Bats in Pawtucket, giving up six runs (three earned) on seven hits and a walk in 3.2 innings. The results were not ideal, but with pitchers making rehab starts, they’re usually much more focused on how they feel, how they can locate pitches, and how they can command their arsenal. The scoreboard usually isn’t of great concern.
But for whatever reason, Price decided to avoid talking to the reporters who ventured to Rhode Island just to see him and talk to him. He chose instead to roll right on by in what is, objectively, a truly incredible land vehicle of some sort.
In a vacuum, it’s perhaps not even noteworthy. But in a series of instances of showing a deep mistrust of the men and women holding notepads and recorders, it stands out.
June 8, 2017: The Meltdown
The strangest part of Wednesday night’s meltdown is that it was almost entirely unprompted. Drellich only tweeted out a direct quote, which came from the mouth of Price. Why that sent Price over the edge is anyone’s guess, but he’s clearly expending a lot of energy focusing on things that don’t really matter.
When Drellich shared that quote, an informal recording of responses from fans seemed to be largely in support of Price, which is not entirely surprising or necessarily wrong. Fans like players on their favorite teams much more than they like media members, obviously.
But there is just no way to support the postgame meltdown. It was indefensible. That’s not because he was mean to some reporters; it was because he lost his head over absolutely nothing.
The bottom line is this, and it can’t be reiterated enough: it is not important whether or not Price talks to the media or does “personal interviews” or allows other humans to ask him questions “on a personal level.” The impact of such a strategy in dealing (or not dealing) with the media is minimal to all involved. This is not a case of the media huffing and puffing, demanding that a player talks if he doesn’t want to talk.
But the mere fact that he deems it important enough to take such a stand is where the story can be found.
The reality is that Tony Massarotti and Jim Murray occasionally saying things about Price that aren’t nice on the radio should have no impact on a star athlete in this city. Just like John P0928030927 typing insults into the internet ether, comments on the radio should be insignificant to a professional. They’re just not important.
But to Price, they clearly are.
This is not a case where fans should dig in their heels and choose Price’s side vs. the media. This is not a drawing of a line between the two positions.
But if you are a fan of David Price, you should merely be hoping that he’s somehow able to overcome whatever it is that leads to the “outside noise” echoing so resoundingly in his head. As he’s now broadcast numerous times over various platforms, he’s finding it challenging to turn it off.