“No. No. Nooooooo. #GoodFeelingIsGone.” These were the first words I hastily mashed into an iPhone following the official announcement the Boston Red Sox had signed free agent pitcher David Price to a seven-year contract nearly three years ago.

That reaction was tame compared to much of what followed from yours truly on social media.

To wit:

“Give him credit, he’s not stringing us along.” — after Price gave up eight runs, all earned, in less than four innings of a 12-8 loss to Tampa Bay in April 2016.

“I thought we’d at least have to wait until September for these performances from David Price.” — after Price gave up five hits and five walks in five innings in an August 2016 loss to the Dodgers.

“$30.5M per year for David Price. THIRTY POINT FIVE MILLION DOLLARS. Hated when they signed him, hate it even more now.” — after Price gave up five runs in just 3.1 innings in his first playoff start for the Red Sox, a 6-0 loss to Cleveland in October 2016.

“I hate David Price. I HATE DAVID PRICE.” — after a game in July 2017, for reasons I probably don’t even remember at this point.

There were plenty of factors for the Price disdain, and I certainly won’t pretend to have been alone. His postseason numbers, even prior to ever landing in Boston, were atrocious. He had a career postseason ERA of 5.12 with Tampa Bay, Detroit and Toronto, allowing five or more runs in three of his six postseason starts before joining the Red Sox. It certainly didn’t help that he was given No. 24, the number of a young Travis Barrett’s favorite Boston player of all time, Dwight Evans. And his surly, sulking, entitled attitude, seemingly never owning up to his struggles while wanting to point to the times he dominated Triple-A lineups in meaningless back ends of July doubleheaders.

You hardly have to go back two and a half years to find Price criticism from me. You won’t need an advanced Twitter search algorithm to locate these gems:

“So, it’s entirely accurate to refer to $200M man David Price as ‘historically bad.'” — October 6, after Price became the only man among 70 pitchers in history with 10 or more playoff starts to have never won a game.

“David Price is a gutless piece of garbage.” — also October 6.

But something happened to the narrative this month, something none of us saw coming. Price became more than a big-game pitcher. He became a clutch playoff performer, on par with Curt Schilling’s infamous bloody sock in 2004.

Boston Red Sox lefty David Price holds the championship trophy after Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Red Sox won 5-1 to win the series.

He was a cue-ball, excuse-me double off the bat of George Springer from winning Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against Houston. He then went into Game 5 of that series on short rest and out-pitched Justin Verlander by a country mile.

That momentum only carried over into the World Series, where he went 2-0, allowing just three runs on 10 hits with 10 strikeouts in 13.2 innings across three appearances, two of them starts.

Speaking of Twitter, Price took to it himself in the wee hours of Monday morning on the East Coast, less than three hours after the Red Sox won the World Series behind a truly awe-inspiring effort on short rest. He tweeted “#iholdthecardsnow,” presumably a reference to the option he holds on his contract heading into next season. Price can opt out of his seven-year contract after this season, which came to an end Sunday night in a Game 5 World Series clincher for the Sox.

If we’ve learned anything about Price, it’s that he’s sensitive and, at times, petulant. He’s spoiled and entitled. He lets little things bother him, things that — prior to this postseason — seemed to unravel him.

But he’s right. He does hold all the cards now. If he chooses to stay with the Red Sox, he will be welcomed back with open arms. If he chooses to leave, he will have done so delivering exactly what he promised — “saving all his playoff wins for the Red Sox.” And it will be hard to be angry with him for leaving.

He’s been treated unfairly, certainly. He hasn’t always helped himself with unfounded worries about whether New England would ever accept him. More than once, he’s wondered aloud what Boston fans want, and he’s assigned his preference for Starbucks over Dunkin’ Donuts (wait, it’s just Dunkin’ now, right? When does that kick in?) as a reason we’d never love him.

What Price missed all along, presumably until this past week, is that all we want in Boston is a player who cares as much as we do, who wins when in matters most, who doesn’t slink away from the spotlight but instead embraces it.

Carl Yastrzemski never won a World Series. Neither did Ted Williams. Or Luis Tiant. Or Dwight Evans. Or dozens of others whom Red Sox fans loved as members of their own families, simply because they gave everything they had and never made any excuses.

David Price pitched in three of the five games in this World Series, won two of them, and was up and ready in the bullpen to enter Game 4, which he didn’t appear in. On short rest, he pitched the clincher in the ALCS, and he did the same again in out-dueling all-time great Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 Sunday night to win the World Series for Boston.

It was the type of World Series pitching performance that makes a legend. It’s the type you’ll tell your grandkids about. It’s the type that should have — with all due respect to Steve Pearce — won him the World Series MVP award.

I’d challenge you to find another athlete in the history of Boston sports to go from universally loathed to loved, from hated to embraced, in just three weeks’ time.

I can’t find one.

“Dear David Price, I’m so, so sorry.” — @TBarrettGWC, 11:31 p.m., Sunday night.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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