Red Sox: David Price is more than just a baseball player

Sep 27, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price (24) reacts after giving up a two-run home run to New York Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin (26) during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 27, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price (24) reacts after giving up a two-run home run to New York Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin (26) during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox fans are primarily concerned with what David Price does on the mound, but he’s accomplished a great deal off the field as well.

Boston Red Sox fans are a passionate group. We obsess over every aspect of the game, using endless amounts of data to evaluate players, essentially turning people into a series of numbers. The information available at our fingertips in this era of analytics allows us to learn everything we would want to know about a player’s performance, but how much do we really know about them off the field?

This is one of the gripes that David Price had during his first year in Boston. Fans care deeply about the success of the team, but less so about the people that contribute to that success.

In a candid interview with the Boston Globe’s Stan Grossfeld, Price opened up about his frustrations. First impressions go a long way and the impression Price has after one year pitching for the Red Sox – from the media, from listening to sports radio and from the wave of comments from social media – is that we don’t care about him.

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We care about what he does on the mound, how well he’s pitching, the numbers he puts up and above all else, if he wins. Price understands that meeting these expectations on the mound will earn him respect in this city, but what baffles him is that it seems that is the only way for a baseball player to be respected. The player matters, the person doesn’t.

At least that’s what he’s been led to believe based on his brief experience in Boston. Price has always been a firm believer in giving back to the community, yet it doesn’t seem that he feels connected to this city due to a backlash from a fan base that deemed last season a disappointment.

One of his passions away from the field that Price mentioned is Project One Four, a foundation he started in 2008 that support organizations in the middle Tennessee area that provide opportunities for youths to learn life skills in a safe and supportive environment.

"“My parents always told me that if I ever got in a position to give back to the community, I should which is why I started Project One Four,” Price states on the foundations website."

Perhaps it’s because his efforts are focused primarily in his home state instead of our own backyard, but Price’s off-field accomplishments have gone mostly overlooked in Boston. Few bother to mention his activities outside of baseball, we only want to talk about his increased ERA or his postseason track record.

Price wants to be known as a great player and an even better person, but the vitriol spewed at him by those that feel he hasn’t lived up to his record $217 million contract has convinced him that people in Boston could care less about the latter.

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Which is a shame because not everyone in this city feels that way. A player’s character matters, but since that can’t be found in a box score it can often go overlooked. Red Sox fans appreciate the contributions from any player that aids in the ultimate goal of winning a championship. Still, we’d much rather root for players that are also good people over the ones that act like jerks.

As an example, look no further than the disastrous 2012 season that was spoiled by a toxic clubhouse overrun by entitled players that made the team unwatchable in the eyes of many fans. The front office responded by jettisoning a few bad seeds and rebuilding the roster with team chemistry as a focus. The result was a revamped team full of players that earned our respect by being great teammates, which was viewed a significant factor in Boston’s World Series championship the following season.

Most people in Boston do care if their players are also good people, but their opinions are overshadowed by the boisterous criticism filling the airwaves on sports radio or the internet trolls Tweeting nasty remarks at Price every time he has a bad start. Those anonymous bullies may grab Price’s attention, but they don’t represent the majority of the city.

Price isn’t going to change and if some people can’t see him for who he is instead of the numbers he produces on the mound then that’s their loss. We can only hope that Price is able to tune out the negativity. He remains one of the game’s most talented left-handed pitchers and the Red Sox are going to need him, but based on his recent comments it sounds like he already wants out of Boston.

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The Globe interview wraps up with Price displaying confidence in his ability to win in October. It hasn’t happened yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. When it does, winning will silence many of his harshest critics that seem intent on running him out of town. Maybe then he’ll be able to hear the rest of us over all that noise, those of us that recognize what he has accomplished in his career as a pitcher and respect him for who he is as a person.