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Monday, December 1, 2003
Theo does whatever it takes

By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

News item: Despite a greater desire to play with the Phillies or Yankees, Curt Schilling agreed to a trade to the Red Sox after Boston general manager Theo Epstein spent Thanksgiving dinner with the Schilling family ...

"A VERY THEO THANKSGIVING''

[Our holiday special opens on Thanksgiving dinner, where CURT SCHILLING and his family are joined by Boston general manager THEO EPSTEIN. SCHILLING and his wife SHONDA sit at the main table, while EPSTEIN has been seated at the children's table with SCHILLING's kids, GEHRIG, GRANT and GABRIELLE.]

EPSTEIN: Mmmmmm-mmmm!!! Shonda, this may be the finest turkey I've ever tasted! It's so much juicier than the turkey I had over at Grady Little's house last year. I'm telling you, he left that bird in the oven for 18 hours until it was dry as chalk. And it would still be in there if the smoke alarm hadn't finally gone off. But your turkey -- it's so succulent, it's positively sinful.

Curt Schilling & Theo Epstein
Epstein ultimately got his man -- but it took a lot of work over the Thanksgiving holiday.
SHONDA: Why, thank you. That's so nice of you to say. Curt, I really like Theo. He's so much better behaved than that awful Bill Singer from the Mets who dropped by a couple weeks ago. Honestly, I haven't been so embarrassed since I asked Randy how he got that nickname, Big Unit.

SCHILLING: I'm sorry about Singer, honey. It won't happen again.

GRANT: Mr. Singer kept making fun of the way Chinese people talk.

SHONDA: [Whispering to EPSTEIN] He blamed his behavior on his low-carb diet, but I think he was just drunk.

EPSTEIN: Well, no need to worry about that here. I'm certainly not afraid of carbohydrates. In fact, I can't get enough of your wonderful garlic mashed potatoes. Could I get the recipe?

SCHILLING: That depends. What are you willing to do for it?

EPSTEIN: Whatever you want. Name it.

SCHILLING: Will you clear the table?

EPSTEIN: Sure.

SCHILLING: Will you do the dishes?

EPSTEIN: Yes, of course.

SCHILLING: Will you baby-sit the kids so Shonda and I can go see "Master and Commander" after dinner?

EPSTEIN: No problem.

SCHILLING: Will you take them to the theater tomorrow while we do our Christmas shopping?

EPSTEIN: Yes, yes, yes. Curt, I'll do whatever it takes.

SHONDA: Would you take them to "Cat in the Hat"?

EPSTEIN: Anythi -- Wait a minute ... "Cat in the Hat"? Ummmmmm ... Gee, that's a tough one ... I mean, I'd love to help out but ... Look, does it have to be "Cat in the Hat"?

GEHRIG, GRANT AND GABRIELLE: YES!!!!!

EPSTEIN: How about "Elf"? I hear "Elf" is a scream.

GEHRIG, GRANT AND GABRIELLE: "Cat in the Hat!" "Cat in the Hat!" "Cat in the Hat!"

EPSTEIN: "Brother Bear"?

GEHRIG, GRANT AND GABRIELLE: "CAT IN THE HAT"!!!!

EPSTEIN: What if I rent "Finding Nemo" and we watch it here?

GEHRIG, GRANT AND GABRIELLE: NOOOOO!!!! WE WANT "CAT IN THE HAT"!!!!

SCHILLING: Do I sense a problem?

EPSTEIN: No, no. No problem. It's just that ... well ... what if I took them to the multiplex and got them tickets to "Cat in the Hat" and bought them Milk Duds and popcorn and soda and all that. Would it be all right if I ducked over to the other screen and watched "Mystic River"?

SCHILLING: Look, if you don't want to do it, I'll just call up someone else.

SHONDA: I'm sure that nice Brian Cashman would be happy to do it, Curt.

EPSTEIN: No!!!!! All right, all right. I'll take them to "Cat in the Hat."

SCHILLING: Good. In that case, you've got yourself a recipe for garlic mashed potatoes. Just don't give that recipe to anyone else. It's been in Shonda's family for years.

EPSTEIN: Of course not. My lips are sealed.

[EPSTEIN'S cell phone rings. Irritated and a bit embarrassed, he excuses himself from the table and takes the call.]

Shonda & Curt Schilling
Epstein didn't just get a new ace -- he also scored a new recipe for garlic mashed potatoes.
EPSTEIN: Look, this better be good. I told you not to call while we were eating ... What? He did WHAT? ... You've got to be kidding ... You're not kidding ... Damn ... Well, look, I'm eating dinner with the Schillings right now and after that I have to meet Manny and Enrique Wilson at the Ritz for drinks, but I'll get there as soon as I can ... Tell him to sit tight and that I'll be there in two to three hours ... OK, bye.

[He returns to the table.]

EPSTEIN: Sorry about that.

SHONDA: Nothing serious, I hope.

EPSTEIN: No, no. A minor matter with Pedro, is all. I just have to go bail him out after we finish dinner.

SCHILLING: What? He's in jail? What did he do?

EPSTEIN: Nothing, really. Just a little misunderstanding with a department store Santa that he threw to the sidewalk. No need for you to worry yourself. You know how passionate Pedro gets sometimes.

SCHILLING: Yes, I do. And that's why I've been thinking how it might be kind of fun to pitch in the same rotation as him. As long as we can work out all the contract details, I mean.

EPSTEIN: Great! Terrific! Now, how about some of that award-winning pumpkin pie I've heard so much about?

SCHILLING: Not so fast. Just how badly do you want a slice? What are you prepared to do for it?

EPSTEIN: Anything, anything! I'll wash the dishes!!! I'll baby-sit your kids! I'll give you a luxury suite and seats on the Green Monster! I'll give you a no-trade clause and a lifetime contract! I'll hire Terry Francona! I'll hire Grady and fire him again if you want! I'll exempt you from getting your head shaved! I'll ban that Kevin Millar karaoke video from the ballpark! I'll ban Ben Affleck from the park! I'll ban Ben Affleck from ever making another movie! I'll give you Ted Williams' frozen head for your mantle! I'll paint the Green Monster your favorite color! I'll change our sox to your favorite color!

Just give me some friggin' pumpkin pie!

SCHILLING: OK, here you go.

EPSTEIN: Thank you. It looks delicious, Shonda.

SHONDA: Would you like some Cool Whip with that, Theo?

SCHILLING: Hold on a minute, honey. Let's see what he's willing to give up for it.

[EPSTEIN groans as we FADE OUT]

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.