Sports history is filled with examples of players and media members who can’t stand each other. It’s part of the territory, like mosquitos buzzing around a grillmaster on a hot humid night.
Sometimes it’s an unavoidable situation; stories anger players who naturally figure they have the right to take it out on the person who had the temerity to write it or say it.
Words are spoken, sometimes loudly. Occasionally, push actually leads to shove. It can be ugly.
But you’d have to admit there is something pretty funny about the feud that’s built up over the last two years between Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price and Dennis Eckersley, the Hall of Famer who serves as a TV analyst for the team.
Originally, Price was pissed off about something Eckersley said on the air about Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez. Eckersley used a less-than-subtle adjective – yuck – to describe Rodriguez’s performance.
So annoyed was Price he decided to approach Eckersley on the team plane (home TV and radio crews often fly with the team). Price got really loud and obnoxious. He stood in front to Eckersley and dressed him down, using a few choice profanities. And the first graders among Price’s teammates got a big chuckle out of it. Some even applauded.
“Ultimately this comes back to the dude doesn’t like me,” said Eckersley at the time. “I get it. It’s cool. Let’s move on. . . . Why would I want to talk to him, you know? He’s not the first guy that doesn’t like me. I get it.
“I can’t worry about 30 guys in that clubhouse. The people I’m trying to talk to are the audience.”
We thought time might have calmed the nerves. But we were wrong.
On Tuesday, the Boston Globe published a profile of Eckersley and among the topics addressed was his problem with Price. Instead of taking the high road, Eckersley did a cannonball into the deep end. He told the Globe he had no intention of ever seeing or talking to Price again. You know, like forever.
Said the Eck: “I didn’t know how to deal with that. I don’t plan on saying a word to him, I don’t plan on seeing him ever. I don’t really give a (you know what) one way or another. I don’t think he really cares one way or the other.”
As you might have guessed, it wasn’t long before Price became aware of the comments and he turned to Twitter – like any other millennial might – and fired back by using an assembly line of laughing-crying emojis.
Then Price said this: “I had a meeting set up to apologize to him and he backed out that day. Get your facts right. … ECK needs attention. Same as every broadcast…hahah 8 pitches are thrown and he’s sitting there talking about something he did 30 years ago (with zero mention of what’s going on).”
Once Price arrived at Fenway Park Tuesday for the Sox game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Price asked the team’s media relations department to gather up the reporters who cover the team. Then Price reared back and fired a high, tight fastball.
“Honestly, I just think it’s trash. He had an unbelievable career and he’s a Hall of Famer. I saw his special on MLB Network. It was cool. The one thing that stood out to me was that he had zero former teammates in that interview. Not one talking about him. It was him talking about himself,” Price said.
“If anybody ever does a special on me after baseball, I won’t need to go on that interview. I will have former teammates. I will have former coaches. He didn’t have that. To me, that’s all you need to know. That tells the story right there.”
Price might be right. Sorry, we had to go there. But he’s also had his share of problems with other media members covering the Red Sox. He can be kind of moody and non-communicative when he’s angry. And we wasn’t very happy when it was revealed he once was put on the disabled list with carpal tunnel syndrome relating to his insatiable video game habit.
Keep in mind, Price is one of Boston’s highest-paid athletes. He’s just past the midpoint of a seven-year, $217 deal that many believe has backfired on the Red Sox. Until he reasserted himself in the 2018 postseason, helping the team win the World Series, people were calling him a fraud.
This season has been much better. Price leads Sox starters with a 3.16 ERA, a 7-2 record with 102 strikeout and coming into Wednesday, Boston was 10 games behind the Yankees in the American League East. But you get the point.
Meanwhile, Eckersley has had trouble with another AL starter, Toronto’s Marcus Stroman, a buddy of Price. Eckersley called Stroman out for his demonstrative nature on the mind, calling it a “tired act.” Stroman fired back called Eckersley a clown and a hypocrite.
Seems like boys will be boys in Boston. Stayed tuned. It could get so much juicier.