It was November of 2003, and the Red Sox were still crushed from the jarring defeat in Game Seven of the ALCS, at the hands of their hated nemesis yet again. Aaron Boone had hit a walk off home run off of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
One could say Josh Beckett has been doing things for the Sox since before he was traded to them.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving of the same year. Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein was headed to the house of starter Curt Schilling, with a tin of cookies from Starbucks in hand.
Despite taking calls from Yankees GM Brian Cashman throughout the night, Epstein convinced No. 38 that Boston was the right place for him, and the Red Sox had their co-ace to go with Pedro Martinez.
The one thing that the Red Sox needed was a closer. Having a lights out closer in 2003 could have equated to a World Series berth for the Red Sox rather than the Yankees.
Keith Foulke was their guy. Over a few beers and a hockey game, Epstein had convinced Foulke to climb aboard with the Red Sox, who were more dedicated than ever in their chase for a championship.
But, there were also the moves that didn't happen that offseason. Just as quickly as Foulke and Schilling were aboard with the club, Theo was this close to sealing some other trades that would have made the team a force to be reckoned with the entire season.
Manny Ramirez' constant trade demands would finally have Epstein granting the troubled star's wish that winter. Theo had an agreement in place with the Texas Rangers to swap Ramirez along with pitching prospect Jon Lester for superstar shortstop Alex Rodriguez.
Right after that deal, the Red Sox would announce their next bombshell.
With batting champion Bill Mueller at third base and longtime Sox fan favorite Nomar fretting so much over a new contract, Nomar Garciaparra was on his way out of Boston. He would be sent to Chicago for Magglio Ordonez and pitching prospect Brandon McCarthy.
Hard to imagine this being the face of the 2004 Red Sox. Very easily this lineup would have none of the personality, but all of the success the team possessed that magical year.
I'm confident that team could just as easily win a World Series as the one that actually did, how would that affect the course of history for the Red Sox in the past few years?
What about top prospect, shortstop Hanley Ramirez? With A Rod at short, but with Bill Mueller's career all but done, it would be very likely that either Rodriguez or Ramirez would be converted into a third baseman.
The Red Sox would have two of the most dynamic players in baseball on the left side of their infield, along with two more on the right side with Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.
What about the pitching staff, though? The rotation took a big hit after the 2004 season with the losses of Derek Lowe to Los Angeles and Pedro Martinez to New York.
With this lineup, would the Red Sox still have felt compelled to trade Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to Florida to acquire Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett?
Sure, Beckett was a great young pitcher at the time, but Ramirez was one of the game's more exciting prospects, and Mike Lowell's career looked all but over following his 2005 season, in which he hit .236, with eight home runs and 58 RBI.
The Red Sox rotation would take another hit down the road, because instead of Jon Lester, the Red Sox would instead have injury-prone Brandon McCarthy. Although that spot could just as easily belong to Clay Buchholz or Michael Bowden right now, what about in 2008? Would the Red Sox have even been contenders last year?
A Rod may have once told Bud Selig that he wanted to go to the Red Sox, but in hindsight, I'm perfectly happy with the way things worked out.