Photo: Harry How (Getty Images)

Every player’s happy to win a championship, but David Price might be the happiest of them all. He’s had to put up with a lot of shit this season. After he pitched seven-plus innings of one-run ball as the Red Sox won Game 5 and closed out the World Series, those criticisms have been practically all rendered moot.

The most common refrain over his decade-long career has been that Price always falls apart in October. Although pitcher wins are a meaningless stat, until this year he hadn’t won a start in the postseason. The day the Red Sox signed Price, he joked that he was saving all his postseason wins for them, but that turned out to be the truth. He earned the W for his six shutout innings in Game 5 of the ALCS as the Red Sox eliminated the Astros, and had two more wins with excellent starts in Game 2 and Sunday night. That monkey is off his back, and it’s dead forever.

A tangential take was that Price would always fall apart against the Yankees. Uh, okay, that one might still have some truth to it—he wasn’t in Game 2 of the ALDS for even two innings before he was pulled after allowing three earned runs. That’s not as important anymore, though. Also, Price had a respectable start against the Yankees in August.

At one point, the pitcher’s struggles against Boston’s biggest rival was linked to video games. Price had an ERA above 5.00 when he was scratched from a May start against the Yankees with a “mild case” of carpal tunnel syndrome. His habit of playing Fortnite was considered a possible reason for this injury.

The night before he started what turned out to be the World Series–clinching game, Price played Fortnite with teammate Nathan Eovaldi. From Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Price was surprised. Like everyone else, he assumed Sale was starting. It didn’t faze him. Immediately, Price went into preparation mode. He grabbed dinner, put on his headphones and ate in the office of Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick. Back at the hotel, he hopped on his Xbox, opened Fortnite and teamed with Eovaldi for a few games of duos. This is their custom, with Eovaldi dropping into the war zone of Tilted Towers, Price preferring the safer terrain of Wailing Woods, both keen to forget baseball for a few hours at a time. Even after Game 3, following his herculean six-inning relief effort, Eovaldi said Price “wanted me to get on, but I was a little tired. So I got on that next morning, and we got a couple dubs.”

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Before last night, David Price already had an accomplished career in baseball, but the 33-year-old’s performances in consequential games hung over his head. They were used to prove that a pretty solid pitcher was actually overrated, or not clutch, or whatever other hacky description fit. After the victory, he was clearly relieved to get some silence. “Any time it got to September, playoffs—I hold all the cards now, and that feels so good,” he said. “That feels so good. I can’t tell you how good it feels to hold that trump card. You guys have had it for a long time, you’ve played that card extremely well, but you don’t have it anymore.”

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Price no longer has to deal with the doubt, and because of his player option for next season, he no longer has to play for the Red Sox. His choices are to take $127 million over the next four seasons, or find another team to give him a better contract. He really does hold all the cards now.