There is something missing from the Red Sox' home clubhouse this season that smacked visitors in the face upon entering last season.
No more Fortnite.
The popular video game became part of the conversation during last year's World Series run first because of David Price's carpal tunnel injury -- with some suggesting one was leading to the other -- and then the players' on-field celebrations mimicking dances done in the online game.
But to understand how popular a thing this in and among the clubhouse culture last season all anyone had to do was take a look around. In a bevy of lockers a video game monitor could be found, with players spending a good chunk of their time sitting in front of the setups with controllers and headsets at the ready.
Now, there isn't a hint of the game anywhere.
"I haven’t seen it this year," said Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who was recruited to return to the Red Sox through the game's messaging system during the offseason. "Usually everybody had it set up in their lockers. But I haven’t seen it."
According to multiple players, it was decided by the team that the time used playing the game in the clubhouse had gotten to a point where it was becoming counterproductive to putting their best foot forward on the field. It wasn't a unique position considering the Blue Jays' ban of video games in the clubhouse and the story of Carlos Santana smashing a flat-screen TV in the Phillies clubhouse last September because of his disdain for the level of online gaming during work hours.
"I think there is a time and place for that, too," Eovaldi noted. "Maybe if we were doing a little better maybe we would be doing it, but you can’t be losing and playing Fortnite in the clubhouse.
"I think everybody, in general, understands that rule. When I came over here last year I was surprised because when I was with the Rays you didn’t do that. When I came over here we’re in first-place, everybody is having a good time and getting the job done. Now we have other things we have to focus on and tend to."
It's not as if the players have given up on the game completely, with games still prevalent outside the clubhouse. But now the pregame time that doesn't involve baseball activities includes cards and crossword puzzles. The Tampa Bay Rays could be found in their clubhouse at Fenway Park engaged in a spirited game of dominoes. Times and priorities are clearly changing.