David Price did not win the World Series MVP on Sunday night, but he may as well have with how he seemingly picked up the “poor postseason player” narrative, lit it on fire, and struck it out Chris Sale-style.
After David Price exited Game 5 of the World Series, my instant thoughts were ones of admiration, respect, and happiness. David Price showed tremendous human qualities over the course of this baseball game.
First, there was heart. There was passion. On short rest (having pitched on the 24th, and then again on the 26th, not to mention his warming up in games where he didn’t actually appear) Price didn’t complain. He went out and pitched with the intention of going deep to save his teammates arms, and eventually win the Series outright.
Second, there was the strength of the human spirit. When we say Price went out and pitched, there was a hope he would get to the fifth inning. Maybe even finish it. Many believed in him, but thought it was just too tall an order to ask for much given his workload recently. Nobody had any idea that he’d be firing bullets, looking strong through his 7th inning of work. Nobody had any idea that he’d be putting himself in the World Series MVP discussion.
Price was probably on fumes, much like most of this pitching staff, and who could blame him or anyone else? Just two days ago, this team played a marathon game where they lost in 18 innings in a game that lasted more than seven hours. Many teams would fold for a few days. Regain their energy, and hope to win in the next few days. The Red Sox and David Price? No sir, Price was full-throttle from the starting gun, and the results showed.
Outside of a leadoff dinger by David Freese, a lucky single that just fell in, and a strange triple that should really be ruled an error, David Price mostly kept baserunners to a minimum. These are all things you know if you watched the game, or even read the recap for that game.
What you may not have noticed was the sheer love he seemingly shared for the game. With every pitch, he showed an intensity that belied his competitive spirit. In this respect, he was the anti-Manny Machado. Where Machado is pimping singles, crushing ankles, and jogging to first on called strike threes, Price was firing bullets, giving his all on every play (every pitch), and keeping his finger on the pulse of the game. When the moment called for it, Price stepped up.
When he exited the game, he tipped his cap to the appreciative fans. When he sat in the dugout, he watched with the same intensity he played with. When Joe Kelly got out of the 8th inning, and the cameras cut to Price, you could see red eyes indicative of a person who was feeling emotional. He was truly invested in the game. He greeted Joe Kelly as he came into the dugout, and they touched foreheads, an intimate moment. When the final out happened (look again at the gif at the top), Price was the first person to dart from that dugout. There are a ton of videos on the internet, so forgive me for not finding this one, but I’m also dead positive he was the first person to get to Sale and Vazquez on the mound (Ed. note: He was), and that’s counting the guys actually on the field.
David Price loved baseball, and he loved World Series Game Five, and we got to witness something truly special. Not only was it a World Series championship, which is always special, but it was a crowning moment for a postseason hero who bucked an entire narrative that had dogged him for a decade. This postseason, David Price threw 26 innings. He gave up 10 earned runs (that’s a 3.46 ERA). That doesn’t sound great on paper, but he threw his best when it mattered most. In the ALCS and WS combined, Price’s numbers were even better. He threw 24.1 IP, and allowed only 7 earned runs (2.55 ERA!). Then, somehow, amazingly, he dialed it up for the World Series! On the grandest stage, with the whole world watching, he threw 13.2 IP and gave up only 3 earned runs (1.98 ERA!?!?!).
This isn’t just a case of postseason redemption, it may be an argument for the single greatest postseason redemption in baseball history. For all of his warts, and for all the fights with the media, and all the wondering over whether he was going to opt out, David Price rose above everything and was completely and utterly dominant in the World Series when the Red Sox needed it.
And he did it when he was probably running on fumes.
This leaves me wondering: has David Price already earned his entire contract? What is the value of a World Series championship, and a performance worthy of being the World Series MVP (he didn’t win it, but you certainly wouldn’t complain if he did, and you might even argue he was most deserving)?
This question didn’t last long in my head, the answer was obvious from the beginning: David Price has been worth every single penny, all 21,700,000,000 of them. David Price could be completely awful the next 4 years, and I hope I would not complain once, because he’s provided a moment that no one could have expected a year ago. A moment that gave us everything (in the baseball world that is): a World Series Championship.
David Price is not going to opt out of his contact. He would be a fool to opt-out. He will not make more than he would be leaving on the table, and the only reason you could ever use as an argument for him leaving (getting away from a hostile environment) has just completely evaporated. He has the money, he has the championship, and now, seemingly unequivocally, he has the fans behind him.
There are people I’ve known who have been whole-heartedly against David Price ever since he signed. With this performance, he won many of them over. The few stalwarts that remain are not nearly vocal enough to be a bother to David Price, a man who will never have to use any of his 217 million dollars to buy anything in Boston ever again.
A few months ago, some fans were dreading the future. A future where we were going to pay David Price over 30 million dollars for his decline years, a future where the media would trade barbs with him, and where more frustration would pile on. This same future has seemingly been altered over night. Price enters the 2019 season not as a symbol of the dangers of overpaying for an aging veteran, but rather a symbol that going all-in is the best way to put yourself in a position to win a title in dominating fashion.
The 2018 Red Sox are in my opinion, the best team in baseball history. They don’t get there without David Price. They may still win the series, they may even still be the best team in Red Sox history. Odds are, however, they are not getting a guy who can throw like David Price did in the World Series.
So my hat is off to you, David Price. I’ve long been a champion for you. I almost got me and my wife killed when we were driving home the day I heard you’d signed. Yes, I was that excited. But even still, I never imagined that something this magical, this brilliant could be done.
This is a memory I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life, and it’s thanks to the heart, hustle, and determination shown in the face of adversity, as you faced the human limits of endurance, a stupid narrative, and one of the best teams in all of baseball. Congratulations.