David Price seems to really be feeling the pressure of playing baseball in Boston
Picked-up pieces while waiting for Danny Ainge fireworks and wondering if Tom Brady and Kelly Olynyk are available for Gordon Hayward recruitment . . .
■ It’s disturbing to hear that David Price got into a verbal altercation with Dennis Eckersley on the Red Sox charter to Toronto after Thursday night’s win. This is a no-win venture for Price, who already has a bull’s-eye on his back because of his contract, his playoff failures, and his new layer of thin skin since coming to Boston. No Sox player is going to win a hissing contest with Eckersley, a Hall of Fame pitcher and the most refreshing color commentator in our market. Eck was a stand-up guy when he pitched and he’s been the same as an analyst. Boston fans love Eckersley. Price, who appears to be finding himself on the mound, increasingly looks like an unhappy camper who wants out of Boston. Not good. Price’s brief explanation of his confrontation with Eckersley was a true head-scratcher. When asked about the episode, Price told the Globe’s Nick Cafardo, “Some people just don’t understand how hard this game is.’’ What? Eckersley is the last guy you’d drop that on. Eckersley understands everything that can happen to a big league ballplayer. As a major leaguer, Eckersley survived career-threatening injuries, multiple trades, getting released, alcohol addiction, a brother in prison, and two failed marriages. He was part of the Red Sox’ collapse in 1978 and took every ounce of heat when he surrendered one of the most famous homers in history — the World Series walkoff by Kirk Gibson. With all that, Eck rightfully sailed into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. The Sox are going to need David Price to get where they want to go this year. Now it looks like Price is being swallowed whole by the dreaded Boston Baseball Experience. Maybe he should have talked with his former teammate Carl Crawford before taking the money to play here.
■ How many Red Sox will be at the All-Star Game in Miami a week from Tuesday? Last year the Sox had four starters voted to the American League squad: David Ortiz, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Xander Bogaerts. Steven Wright and Craig Kimbrel also made the team. It doesn’t look like there will be any Boston position players starting this year. Last time we saw voting updates, the Sox didn’t have any player ranked higher than fourth. There’s always a chance Terry Francona names Chris Sale to start for the AL and Kimbrel has to be in the bullpen, but it could be thin after that. Betts and Bogaerts seem like reasonable reserves. The 1946 Red Sox sent eight players to the All-Star Game, and in 1978 Boston had seven representatives, including second baseman Jerry Remy. Dustin Pedroia was an AL starter in 2008, his MVP season. Nomar Garciaparra started once: 1999. The 2017 All-Star rosters will be announced Sunday night.
■ I guarantee Red Auerbach would have loved watching Phil Jackson’s epic fail as boss of the Knicks. Red hated Jackson. It bothered him that Jackson won 11 championships as a head coach, two more than Red. Auerbach never would have stopped coaching (he walked away from the bench at the age of 48 after winning eight straight championships) if he thought anybody would surpass his record. Red was happy to admit that he never won a championship as a coach without Bill Russell, but he thought Jackson was an opportunist for winning with Michael Jordan, then going to LA and winning with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Personally, I thought Jackson was starting to lose it when he did nothing to stop the bleeding at the Garden in the Celtics’ 131-92 beatdown of the Lakers in the clinching game of 2008. Red always hated the Knicks — going back to when Red’s George Washington team was snubbed by the NIT in 1937 — and resented the notion that the 1973 Knicks (Jackson was a sub) were one of the greatest teams of all time. After retiring from the bench Red went on to build five more championship teams as a GM, and it would have delighted Auerbach to watch the smug Jackson fail at team-building in New York. Some of the New York tabloid headlines were great. I particularly liked the Daily News’s “Triangle of Death,’’ and “Ding-Dong, The Jax Is Gone — Karma’s a Witch.’’ The ever-more-subtle Post went with “Knicks Give Jax The Ax,’’ and had a cover photo of Spike Lee rejoicing under the headline, “Spike Says: Way To Do The Right Thing — Knicks Win!’’
■ Fake News: What’s up with the Red Sox claiming they are in first place when they are not? The Sox have that nifty AL East standings panel on the left-field wall, designed to tell fans where the Red Sox stand in the division. During the last homestand, whenever the Sox were in a “virtual” tie with the Yankees, they’d place “Boston” on top of “New York” on the Monster standings panel; even though the Yankees had a higher winning percentage. It’s simple math.
When the Red Sox were 43-35 (.551) and the Yankees were 42-34 (.553), the Yankees, not the Red Sox, were technically on top. But not on The Wall standings. “I was unaware of it until somebody mentioned it this week,’’ said Sox CEO Sam Kennedy. “That’s not an order from ownership, I can tell you that. I feel like we’re in a virtual tie, so we’re putting ourselves first. It’s like we’re putting ourselves first up there to give us some momentum. But I will look into it.’’ Swell. This is a small thing, but if the Sox were listing AL batting leaders, would they put the Boston guy on top, even if he had a lower batting average? It smacks of Orlando Magic yahooism and we would mock any other city that did this.
■ Forty-four-year-old Bartolo Colon might finally be at the end. Colon pitched to Eddie Murray, who played with Brooks Robinson, who broke into the big leagues in 1955. We are running out of professional athletes who played in the 20th century. So let’s celebrate Dirk Nowitzki, Jaromir Jagr, and 44-year-old Adam Vinatieri, who broke in with the Patriots in 1996.
■ Quiz: The Red Sox only had one All-Star in the dismal 1993 and ’94 seasons of manager Daddy Butch Hobson. The same player was Boston’s lone star both years. Name him.
■ When the Celtics sign Gordon Hayward, remember that the Globe’s Christopher L. Gasper was first to tell you that Hayward was Brad Stevens’s Jimmy Chitwood at Butler.
■ ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian solicited nominees for the five best switch-hitters of all time. I’m going with Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, Pete Rose, Chipper Jones, and Carlos Beltran. You?
■ University of Texas sophomore infielder Kody Clemens was slated to play for the Bourne Braves in the Cape League this summer but abruptly pulled out with little explanation. Too bad. Would have been fun to have Daddy Roger around for the summer.
■ Speaking of sons of superstars, Rick Barry’s undrafted son, Canyon Barry, signed with the Knicks and will play in the Summer League alongside New York’s top pick, Frank Ntilikina. Barry will be easy to spot. He’ll be the one shooting his free throws underhanded.
■ When you hear Eckersley talking about a pitcher’s pinpoint control, remember that Eck was one of the great strike machines of all time. In 1990, he struck out 73 batters in 73⅓ innings and walked four. While we’re at it, let’s remind you again that Eck invented the term “walkoff,” which has become part of the baseball language.
■ AAU programs continue to chip away at the core of high school sports. The latest bad news is that elite female high school soccer players will be forced to choose between their high school teams and the US Soccer Girls’ Development Academy. Beginning this fall, girls who try out and make the GDA will be forbidden to play for their high school teams. US Soccer is trying to apply the European men’s model to girls’ soccer in the United States and it’s unfair to put teen girls and their parents in this position.
■ Former Patriots defensive end Brent Williams (1986-93) is taking over as interim head football coach at Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury. Williams’s two sons played football at CM.
■ Quoting Curt Schilling these days is like quoting Charlie Sheen, Dennis Rodman, Johnny Manziel, or LaVar Ball. Easy. Irresponsible. Almost cruel.
■ Bet you didn’t know that the first curveball was thrown at Harvard’s Jarvis Field. It’s true. We think. According to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, the pitch was first thrown by an 18-year-old righthander named William Arthur Cummings, who pitched for a Brooklyn amateur team against Harvard on Oct. 7, 1867. “Candy” Cummings was inducted posthumously into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
■ Quiz answer: Third baseman Scott Cooper.