I was away when Dennis Eckersly and David Price had their little disagreement on the plane going to Toronto. When I finally did hear of the argument I had to laugh because just about every team has had a situation similar to theirs. Players hear about the comments about them from the broadcast booth from wives or friends and it begins to fester in their minds until they finally confront the analyst or play-by-play man.
I have to tell you about a similar situation I had back in the day with one of my former teammates and good friend George Scott. I was hired my first year of retirement by the Record American to write an article for both home and away games. I would call in after every game with my analysis to one of the Herald’s sports writers and he would then write the article for the next day’s edition. Ironically, the team was in Toronto and a ball was hit to Scott’s right, which I thought he should have had. I wrote that Scott would have had that ball in his back pocket in his earlier days with the team and maybe was losing his range and his career might be coming to its final year(s).
Someone told George about the article and when I approached him to explain what I wrote he wouldn’t talk to me. In fact he wouldn’t talk to me for the rest of the road trip. Finally the last day of the trip I got in a cab with him to go to the ballpark and I said to him he should have had that ball and maybe he had lost some range. Of course he disagreed and blamed it on the Astro Turf. I didn’t give in and apologize for the comments and he finally let it go and we continued our friendship throughout the rest of his career and beyond.
We don’t know exactly what Eckersly and Price argued about but if it was about Price not covering first base Eckersley was right on. That’s a mental mistake and could have cost him the ballgame. An analyst who is a former player is broadcasting his opinions to the fans and not the ballplayers. That’s his responsibility. His or her job is to point out mistakes on the field and not make excuses for them. Eckersley does a good job informing the fans watching on TV when they screw up and also when they deserve praise. In fact all the former players who are on NESN commenting before and after games do a very good job. Price makes it worse for himself by his reactions to criticism. It’s too bad he isn’t enjoying his time in Boston. He needs more self-control and should concentrate on pitching because the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else.