The year was 2003 and the Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series in 85 years. They had a good team, though, and featured big name stars like Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, and the emerging David Ortiz. But Manny was a problem in the clubhouse. He was lazy and the Red Sox saw an opportunity to make a franchise-changing trade with the Texas Rangers for shortstop Alex Rodriguez.
A-Rod was still in his twenties and was on pace to break Hank Aaron‘s all-time home run record. His contract was the highest in the history of MLB, but a trade for the nearly equally expensive Ramirez would offset this problem. At the time A-Rod didn’t come with the baggage that Manny did, so most Red Sox fans were more than okay with this potential deal.
But the Red Sox had an All-Star shortstop already in Nomar Garciaparra. If A-Rod came that would require Nomar, a fan favorite, to be traded to the Chicago White Sox for their established All-Star outfielder Magglio Ordonez. The trades were favorable to Boston and most writers and fans agreed that it would make them better than the New York Yankees.
Fortunately for the Red Sox fan base this deal fell through. In order to play for a winning team in Boston Rodriguez had agreed to restructure his contract, taking a $28 million hit in the process. The Player’s Association refused to approve the trade, though, because it would affect the market for other free agents. Shortly after that A-Rod was traded to the Yankees. It was just another kick in the groin for Red Sox fans.
These things have a way of working out in the end, though. For the most part Rodriguez has been a disaster in pinstripes. For all the hype he has been a terrible postseason hitter, except for the 2009 World Series run. In the process he has become one of the most polarizing and dislikable players in all of sports. His arrogance and refusal to accept responsibility for taking steroids has caused even the most loyal Yankees fan to abandon him. Now he’s suspended until the 2015 season and the fourth place Yankees are stuck with the bill.
During that time, though, the Red Sox have won two championships. By holding onto Nomar they used him to trade for Dave Roberts and Doug Mientkiewicz, who were both essential parts of the 2004 World Series run. Ordonez has also been linked to steroids and has not not been productive in the last 10 years. Meanwhile Ramirez has gone on to supplant Reggie Jackson as the greatest postseason hitter in the history of MLB.
On behalf of all Red Sox fans I’d like to personally thank the MLBPA for keeping A-Fraud out of Boston.