Nobody had more to lose this postseason than Red Sox pitcher David Price.
Dubbed as a postseason choker, Price was 0-9 for postseason starts in his career prior to the playoffs this year. But Price overcame the naysayers and doubters, going on to pitch his team right into the World Series and then helping them take it home.
Here’s what some of Price’s biggest doubters are saying about the World Series champ now.
Earlier this season, Price’s doubters had a field day with his 11-13 start. Tony Massarotti was one of Price’s loudest critics: “David Price is killing the Red Sox.” These criticisms continued into the postseason, with Felger and Massarotti bewildered at Price’s ability to routinely blow it in the playoffs.
“The most astonishing thing about this guy is that you can set your watch by him,” Massarotti said. “I’m telling you, it must be October, because every time he gets to the mound and craps his pants, the leaves are changing colors.”
Both are singing Price’s praises now that he has a World Series ring:
Felger: Should David Price have been the MVP?
Massarotti: No question. Absolutely should’ve been the MVP of the Series. Again, you only played five games. He started and won two of them. Two of the others he was up in the bullpen ready to come in and one of them he did. He was ready to back up [Craig] Kimbrel and close Game 4 if they needed him to do that one more time when Kimbrel was out there wetting himself. David Price absolutely should’ve been the MVP of the Series.
Felger: I said it after Game 5 of the ALCS, I’ll say it again now: He killed that narrative of being a postseason choker. He’s right to do this. Shake your a**, tell us to suck it. He’s been mercilessly mocked by me and others. Be an a-hole about it. I thought this was kind of great.
Matt McCarthy lost faith in Price early in October, calling him “the ultimate October failure.”
“There is no answer for the Red Sox with Price,” McCarthy wrote. “They can’t win with him, and it’s hard to see them winning without him.”
After the Sox clinched the American League, however, McCarthy’s tone shifted:
“I’m sure happy to be wrong about this one. … There were many reasons why the naysayers, the doubters, and the prognosticators of October doom said the Red Sox couldn’t get past the other elite teams in the top-heavy American League. None of those reasons came to fruition. We said the bullpen would sink them in postseason. It hasn’t. We said the starters couldn’t deliver in October. They have. We said David Price could never win when it counts. He shoved that one down our throats with his dominant Game 5 [of the ALCS] performance. Price, for the first time in October, is a winner. He deserves the accolades and praise associated with it. Price did all we ever wanted him to do. He won.
John Tomase made his disapproval for Price clear in his columns, once referring to Price’s shortcomings as something that “reeks like roadkill.”
“Price delivered the worst postseason start of his life, which is saying something,” Tomase wrote. “He left the mound to a deluge of boos, unable to finish the second inning on a night when the Red Sox desperately wanted to limit the number of pitches entrusted to their heart attack bullpen, but instead dropped a 6-2 decision that evened the series.”
After the Series, Tomase gave credit where credit was due:
“The Red Sox owe their World Series championship to David Price as much as any other player. Once he solved the riddle against the Astros, he pitched lights out.
He easily could’ve won World Series MVP over Steve Pearce — Price would’ve gotten my vote — for winning Games 2 and 5 against the Dodgers, the latter with one of the best playoff starts (7 IP, 1 ER) in Red Sox history, all things considered.
He then gloated, “I hold all the cards now,” in a petty and not altogether unsurprising postgame press conference that I suppose he had earned, although there’s something to be said for winning graciously. But whatever — who cares what he said when his actions spoke so eloquently. He manned up on the biggest stage and will forever be associated with this title.”
“What you do know is David Price sucks and blows, blows and sucks, and he could never, ever, ever take the mound in New York, and he probably can’t take the mound in Boston against New York.”
Gerry Callahan was not very forgiving of Price’s early postseason slip-ups, and wrote him off as being done pitching in Boston.
“I know he’s had a lot of failures, but I’ve never seen one as devastating as this,” Callahan said. “It sucked the life out of the ballpark, the team. Right there when they yanked David Price, I said, ‘They’re going to lose the series.’ I will be stunned if the 108-win Boston Red Sox win this series.”
Just a few weeks later, Callahan and Mike Mutnansky were in disbelief that Price wasn’t named World Series MVP.
“Ridiculous,” Callahan said of the snub. “[Price] was robbed. … He beat the Astros, he put the problems behind him. His problem is with the Yankees, not with the postseason.”
Merloni let his feelings be known on a podcast titled “Hell hath no fury like Lou Merloni pissed off at David Price” in early October.
“It’s over. It’s done. I don’t need anymore proof. … He will never win in the postseason. I don’t care if he wins the next six Cy Young (awards). He will never, ever, ever do it. When it’s in the postseason, he loses his ever-loving mind. … He runs from it, he just hides from it, he prays he’s never going to get another opportunity. He can tell you all day long that he can’t wait for another shot. He’s dreading the day Cora says ‘you got the ball again.’ He does not want to pitch. He wants nothing to do with this entire postseason. I wish he would just go away. Go away. I never want to see you on the mound again. Ever!”
After the Sox clinched, Merloni didn’t miss the opportunity to voice his opinions of Price, particularly his post-win press conference.
“I’ve made this very clear,” Merloni said. “What [David Price] does best is throw a baseball. And if he made his focus on him throwing the baseball, which we try to do, [then] when he throws the ball well in one of the greatest three-game performances that I’ve seen in postseason history, we talk about it. And when he throws the ball bad, we talk about it. But what I’m saying is he can do whatever he wants. But if he just moved on, we’d be talking about his performance. And I understand he probably had a lot of stuff he wanted to get off of his chest, and he did. But because of that, then were going to react to what he said. And there’s the negativity.”
Like many, Shaughnessy expressed wariness of Price’s playoff failures. He believed in Price, but was often let down when the pitcher didn’t live up to expectations in the mound:
“LeBron James will cry to the officials. The first penalty in any hockey game in Montreal will be called against the visitors. And David Price will spit the bit in the playoffs. Of this, you can be sure. Price was hoping to get back in your good graces against the Yankees in Game 2 of the AL Division Series Saturday night. He was going to make you forget all about his $217 million contract and the ambush of Dennis Eckersley and Fortnite and the rest of the nonsense. He was going to win a playoff game. Against the Yankees. … No. In the big moment, Price came up small again. It was worse than ever. In 1⅔ innings of the latest, biggest game of his life, Price gave up two monstrous homers and three runs, walking two and surrendering a wall-ball single to Andrew McCutchen before he was mercifully lifted by manager Alex Cora. The Sox lost, 6-2. Price is 0-9 as a postseason starter. His team has lost all 10 of his postseason starts. This is a major league record. … Time for an opt-out for Price. Or a trade. Or an exorcism.”
After Price proved himself and started earning playoff wins, Shaughnessy was more forgiving when talking about Mr. October on The Sports Hub’s Zolak and Bertrand, harping on about his MVP snub.
“And don’t forget, David Price. Not only did he win his last three starts after all of the nonsense and all of the true facts of his underperformance for 10 years in this event, his last two he clinched the pennant against [Justin] Verlander and the World Series against [Clayton] Kershaw. … I just thought, ‘How could [the MVP] not be David Price after what he just did?’ … I mean, he manned up, let’s face it. He’s the MVP of the World Series.”