Bob Nightengale of USA Today caught up with new Dodgers pitcher David Price and asked him about his impressions thus far. One of the bigger impressions: how much easier it is to deal with the L.A. media vs. the Boston media.
Here were his impressions after his first mound work following surgery last fall and after his introductory press conference:
“That was a big day for me, a very big day. I came in, got undressed, showered, came back to my locker, and stood there for 10 or 15 minutes. There were maybe two or three [reporters] hanging out, talking to other guys, and nobody came over to talk to me about my day. I couldn’t believe it . . .
. . . It was like after me and Mookie had our introductory press conference at Dodger Stadium, we walk off the field when it was all done, and Mookie says, ‘That’s it? Is this a joke?’ . . . I’ve only been here a couple of weeks but I really couldn’t be happier”
A friend and former teammate, Marcus Stroman, and a new teammate, Justin Turner, also make note of the different media environment in which Price is now playing and think it’ll be good for him. Stroman:
“I’m so excited that David is out of that market because people were trying to question his character. If you ask anybody that ever met or anyone who’s ever been around David, character has never been an issue. He’s the best teammate I ever had . . . It’s comical to me when I read things questioning his character.”
“I think he got a bad rep from the media in Boston. I’ve had a lot of teammates here that come from Boston and told me how tough it is over there to deal with. But everyone I talked to, everyone who knows David, loves him to death.”
I get that Price’s teammates have loved him and I understand that the Boston media can be tough, demanding, and, at times, even unfair. But I also think Price, Turner, and Stroman are overlooking the fact that Price’s issues with the Boston media were often self-inflicted.
The incident that I think of the most in this regard was his dustup with Sox’ broadcaster and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.
In June of 2017 it came out that Price had a run-in with Eckersley over comments Ecklersley made on-air about a rehab start by Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodríquez. Eck was critical, noting that Rodríquez had a rough go of things, but it was not some sort of low blow or anything like that. We later learned that the run-in was less a discussion than it was Price berating Eckersley. From the Boston Globe, here’s a report about what went down. As far as I know, neither Price nor anyone with the Red Sox disputed the account:
On the day of the episode, Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft, surrounded by fellow players, waiting for Eckersley. When Eckersley approached, on his way to the back of the plane (Sox broadcasters traditionally sit in the rear of the aircraft), a grandstanding Price stood in front of Eckersley and shouted, “Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!’’
When a stunned Eckersley tried to speak, Price shot back with, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’
Many players applauded.
Eckersley made his way to the back of the plane as players in the middle of the plane started their card games. In the middle of the short flight, Eckersley got up and walked toward the front where Sox boss Dave Dombrowski was seated. When Eckersley passed through the card-playing section in the middle, Price went at him again, shouting, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’
As I wrote at the time, Price’s behavior here was disgraceful. Price could’ve taken up his issues up with Ecklersley one-on-one, but instead he decided to wait until he was surrounded by lackeys to hurl insults in a situation where Eckersley had no opportunity to effectively respond. It was classic bullying behavior, made all the worse in that it was couched in a lot of comment from Price at the time about how people on the outside didn’t know what ballplayers go through and how hard the game is. Which may be true of most of us, but it’s certainly not true of a Hall of Fame pitcher like Dennis Eckersely.
But that wasn’t the only time Price had a run-in with the press that summer. A month before he got into a shouting match with Evan Drellich, who now works for The Athletic. The account from the Boston Herald:
Following the Sox’ 8-0 loss to the Yankees, as the media was entering a long hallway that leads to the clubhouse, Price asked to speak with former Herald scribe Evan Drellich, who now covers the team for Comcast SportsNet New England.
“Sure,” said Drellich, who fell behind as the rest of the group entered manager John Farrell’s office. Price already was speaking loudly to Drellich when we entered the office. Kevin Gregg, the Sox media relations director, shooed everyone out of the hallway and into the office then closed the door. We still could hear Price yelling.
Then came a second round of yelling, after which Drellich made a comment about Price’s professionalism which led to Sox pitcher Rick Porcello saying something about Drellich’s. Then:
The last words I heard from David Price last night were “(Expletive) them! (Expletive) them all. All of them.”
We don’t know and never did know the nature of Price and Drellich’s dispute. Again, Price may have had a legitimate beef. But the way in which he handled it did not reflect well upon him.
Can the Boston press be challenging and, as I said above, unfair? Absolutely. It’s probably one of the toughest if not the toughest market in which to play from that perspective. But, somehow. most guys who play there manage to avoid having multiple, expletive-filled shouting matches with the reporters and commentators over the course of a season. The fact that Price could not do so probably says as much about him as it does the Boston press.
Which is to say that, yeah, it’ s probably pretty good that he’s in L.A. now. But I don’t think it’s because the press gave him a “bad rep.” And I certainly don’t think it’s because people there “tried to question his character.” As far as I can tell, he showed his character, for both good and for bad while in Boston and people merely commented on it.