The problem with the Boston Red Sox isn’t fake tough guy David Price.

The problem with the Red Sox is fake tough guy John Farrell.

It was Farrell, after all, who has empowered the whiny, insecure poser that is David Price.

It was Farrell who gave Price the de facto go-ahead to verbally abuse Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley as the Red Sox were boarding a charter flight.

And it was Farrell who closed discussion on the incident by referring to it as something that will be “handled internally.”

The trouble began June 7, following an 8-0 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. As the media was entering the clubhouse, Price pulled Comcast SportsNet New England reporter Evan Drellich aside for a chat that quickly devolved into a one-sided screaming match.

Price had a few dismissive words for me. And then he directed an obscenity at reporter Ian Browne.

Price closed out his clubhouse tirade with this: “(Expletive) them! (Expletive) them all. All of them.”

Now the purpose here isn’t to solicit sympathy for we poor, innocent knights of the keyboard, though it should be noted that Browne happens to be about the nicest, most down-to-earth person working the press box.

But what makes the Yankee Stadium incident important is how Farrell reacted to it.

During his pregame meeting with the media two days later at Fenway Park, the manager ladled out the requisite niceties about “respect for your job” and that “we recognize there’s a responsibility by all our guys to address the media,” but he then lectured the gathering about the hazards of Twitter and about how accountability is a “two-way street.”

The entire point of this lame exercise was for Accountability John to convey to David Price that he has his back, that they are buds, that, in essence, it’s perfectly OK and acceptable on the 2017 Red Sox to verbally attack other people.

Thus empowered, Price sought out Eckersley as his next victim. It happened on a flight to Toronto, and in full view of other members of the team’s traveling party.

I’m not going to waste a lot of time building a character profile for Dennis Eckersley, other than to point out the obvious: He is a Hall of Fame pitcher who, as a TV analyst, is hugely entertaining. He often tells it like it is but is never caustic or biting.

Eck’s brand of fun spans the generations. If my own observations count for anything, Eck is as much loved by younger fans as older ones.

He is, in other words, precisely what baseball needs.

Yet Eck is a media guy now, and a media guy who has upset David Price. And if Farrell was a tough guy, as he was with the sports writers last month, he’d have used this occasion to break out his speech about accountability and the two-way street. That’s what he told the media mob that day in the briefing room. Why not use it again to point out that Eckersley’s accountability should be questioned?

But while Farrell had no problem moralizing to a roomful of sports writers, there’s no way he was going to use those same talking points to tsk-tsk the Eck.

Nor was Farrell going to say that Price’s behavior was immature, boorish and out of line.

We’re told there was a meeting in Toronto – Price, Farrell and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. For all I know, it was heated. It might have been a tough sell for Farrell to look into fining or suspending Price, but couldn’t he at least have come out of that meeting and made a very public, very loud declaration in support of Eckersley?

That would have showed us what a tough guy Farrell is.

Instead we get the fake tough guy. As in when he appeared at WEEI’s Fenway Park studio and responded to pointed questions from host Rich Keefe by attempting a lame, junior high-level staredown.

Had Farrell been able to stare down David Price last month in New York, the Red Sox wouldn’t be in this predicament. Instead, Price refers to his manager as “Manager John” in tweets and not only gets away with berating Eckersley but apparently gets applauded by some teammates.

Before the series opener Monday night at Seattle, Farrell was asked if he has considered apologizing to Eckersley. His answer might as well have been written by Price: “After the incident, we obviously met with David. That was handled internally. Since then I’ve had multiple interactions with Eck. My relationship with Eck is certainly professional, but we’ve moved on from it and we’re focused on winning games.”


I want to believe there are players in the Red Sox clubhouse who have had it with David Price. But there is no David Ortiz to fill the room with his booming voice and oversized personality, and it appears none of the vets are willing to step up.

Look, this isn’t 1967. There are no Dick Williams types anymore. And, yes, the Red Sox are in first place … so what’s the diff?

But if a Dennis Eckersley can get hung out to dry and nobody does anything about it, is it all worth it?

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