David Price is one of the best pitchers in baseball, but his recent spat with Dennis Eckersley on a team plane doesn’t exactly reflect well on the 31-year-old. In fact, it makes him look petty, immature, and, well, childish.
Are players today just more sensitive to criticism?
“Well, the criticism, I’ve always heard. I’ve never not heard that,” former GM and current MLB Radio host Jim Bowden said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “The players are sensitive, the wives listen on the radio and TV, tell their husbands and they get upset. So I’ve heard that all the time. The unprofessionalism of the confrontation between David Price and Dennis Eckersley is not something you see very often. The few times I saw it, I got rid of the player. But granted, it’s a little bit different when the player doing it is making $200 million and is one of your star prizes. So that makes it kind of unique.”
Price, unhappy with Eckerlsey’s comments in the broadcast booth, reportedly cussed him out while the Red Sox flew to Toronto on June 29.
“Hearing the story, really, is embarrassing for David Price,” Bowden said. “I hope there’s no truth to it, but it does concern me that David Price hasn’t had a press conference to say that it’s not true. I’m kind of surprised that there hasn’t been an apology to Dennis Eckersley publicly. I’m surprised that John Farrell and Dave Dombrowski haven’t gotten involved in this thing at all. This happened a month ago. But if this is accurate, this is just a shame – and it doesn’t sound like David Price to me.
“I’ve known David Price since the day he was pitching for Vanderbilt, and I put on my scouting report that he reminds me of Andy Pettitte,” Bowden continued. “I was wrong because he’s going to be better than Andy Pettitte over his career. But just watching this kid, this does not sound like his character. That kind of behavior is unacceptable, and I’m not understanding why something hasn’t been done on behalf of the Red Sox front office and David Price to apologize to Dennis Eckersley.”
Eckersley, 62, was a six-time All-Star, a Cy Young winner, an MVP, and a World Series champion. He’s as respected as they come.
“No matter what you think of him, he’s a really good analyst, he’s very professional in what he does, he calls it the way he sees it, and he gets paid to do what he’s doing,” Bowden said. “I just really don’t understand this whole situation at all.”
Even if Eckersley was out of line or went too far, Bowden vehemently disagrees with the manner in which Price vented his frustration.
“You can’t have those kind of events on a team plane or a team bus,” Bowden said. “That cannot happen. You can’t bully anybody, and you can’t get your teammates together to bully anybody. I don’t care if it’s a broadcaster or a player or a coach or a bat boy or a hot dog vendor. That’s just not acceptable. So you got to have a conversation directly with a player if, in fact, this happened. I have no problem with a player confronting an analyst at all, (but) do it professionally. Do it one-on-one. Sit down with Dennis Eckersley and explain to him why he doesn’t like what he’s been saying and why he thinks it’s unfair and unjust. And like men, look each other in the eye and handle it. Go forward. That’s the way to do it. Screaming at people (and saying) ‘Get the F out of here’ – and doing it in front of teammates who are clapping – that’s not the way I want anyone to handle it in an elementary school, a junior high or high school, let alone a Major League plane.”