By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
If you haven’t listened to WEEI’s Rob Bradford’s podcast with NESN’s Dennis Eckersley yet, you are missing the newest fad in sports media gold. Speaking publicly for the first time since he was accosted by David Price on the Red Sox charter to Toronto in late June, Eck’s comments on the Bradfo Sho, makes the Sox pitcher look even worse than the pretentious punk most of the fans in Boston thought he was before the Hall of Famer shared his thoughts.
Bradford begins the informal interview by asking the former closer how his year has gone. “It’s been…interesting, you know, because I have been doing this a long-time – not necessarily in the booth – but, you know with NESN.
“The years are beginning to add up, but there has been nothing like this year. It’s just really…you go back over it and say ‘why, why did something like that happen?’” said possibly the most entertaining color commentator in baseball.
As they begin to delve deeper into the details of Price’s planned punkish attack, and Eckersley shares his thoughts about it nearly three months removed from what he went through, the former Cy Young and MVP winner shows a humility and maturity that the low-grade lefty will likely never know.
Asked about how he felt at the time; Eckersley replied, “I was humiliated, to be honest with you. As far as talking about this, I’ve never said anything. You’re the first person I’ve really talked to about this. I don’t want to make it anything more than it is.”
He goes on to say, when asked if he would like to talk with Price, “Ultimately, this comes back to the dude doesn’t like me, 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.”
What becomes crystal clear the further you get into the interview, is how badly Price doesn’t get it. The bottom line is, the petulant pitcher was never a good fit for the Boston market, and he never will be. He chose money over comfort, when he turned down the St. Louis Cardinals offer was reportedly for seven years, and approximately $30 less than the Red Sox. However, do you think – if given the chance – Price would look at that as chump change if he could change his address tomorrow by surrendering a lump sum of cash?
Of course, he would.
What complicates matters more, is the elbow issue that has cropped up two times in his second season of calling Fenway home. All he had to do was to remain healthy – and pitch reasonably well – and Price could have bolted after next year, with surely a large list of clubs willing to back the Brinks truck up to his door.
Now, to the chagrin of all the parties involved – Price, the Red Sox and their fan base – it seems the unhappy hurler will be stuck in The Hub of the Universe for the five years beyond this season, especially if he has to have Tommy John surgery on his ailing elbow.
Had Price been healthy all season, there is no telling how bad this situation would have become. Shortly after the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy made the gory details public in late July, Price smugly did a victory lap when – in what has been a rare occurrence this season – he spoke to the press. By telling the assembled scribes that Eckersley “has been real good (since Price aired him out on the team charter). He’s said a lot of positive stuff about everybody in this clubhouse,” the pompous pitcher was insinuating that he put the Hall of Famer in his place.
What a joker.
In talking with Bradford, about whether or not he has had blowback from other players in the past, they discussed the Jackie Bradley Jr incident – when JBJ asked to have a picture taken with Eckersley before a team charter, and then blasted him on Twitter with it – of a couple of years ago. Then, the mustachioed master had the perfect response.
— Jackie Bradley Jr. (@JackieBradleyJr) August 9, 2015
“This is what it comes down to,” he told the website guru. “It sounds harsh, not necessarily harsh, but I’m trying to do my job. I can’t worry about 30 guys in that clubhouse. The people I’m trying to talk to are the audience.”
And that is the bottom line. Eckersley is more concerned with doing his job and doing it well, while Price seems obsessed with the white noise that he often times creates himself.
The good news for Red Sox fans is that Eck expressed a desire to do more home games next season, and assuming that Jerry Remy returns to health – he looked great this past weekend – those tuning into NESN could be in for a real treat, as the two former teammates were nothing short of broadcasting gold together.
The bad news is, Price the Punk is probably staying put for the next half decade. And based on the way, he has been welcome in Boston – due to his poor performances and poor attitude – that’s something no one is looking forward to.