The St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox are set to duel for the 2013 World Series. Both squads are loaded and rolling. James was sipping on some haterade when he decided to hit Moke up with some questions surrounding the two teams. In honor of Revolt TV, Diddy's new channel. Let's Get It.
JAMES: Aight Moke, its that time of year again. The Boston Red Sox take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the Series. Let me just come out and get my Red Sox shade out of the way: If they win this one, does it solidify them as true champions since that '04 squad had more juice than a Chance The Rapper single?
MOKE: All of Boston’s chips since 2004 have been legit. I don't really get into the steroids thing and define teams as true champions or fake champs based off whether or not one or two guys on a team did PEDS, because the entire league was juicing. It's easy to target successful, big market teams who won World Series rings and label them cheaters.
Nobody cares about all of the other juicers who got away with it because no one broke the law and leaked their names, or because they didn’t post softball numbers while using PEDs.
It's also pretty lame to try and discount a team's accomplishments because a couple of guys were indulging in the MLBs free-wheeling PED epidemic. It's a theory that stinks like prune juice and a philosophy older than the senior citizens who drink it for better bowel movement.
Bud Selig and MLB fostered, ignored and aided the proliferation of PED use and abuse in baseball. They capitalized on it financially, particularly after the baseball strike of 1994 when the game desperately needed a way to get people back to the stadiums. The Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa chase of Roger Maris’ single-season homer record was as "untrue" as it gets, but I can't really get on them for being more talented than the other juicers. It's all relative.
There's not a World Series team in the last 25 years that doesn't have PED abusers on it, so I definitely can't discount the Red Sox's accomplishments. The Yankees had a ton of juicers too and so probably did miserable teams like the Pirates and Rockies, but nobody cares if Larry Walker and Todd Helton popped steroids at the same rate Trinidad James and a room full of white girls from Oklahoma pop mollies.
Shoot, for that matter the Pittsburgh Steelers Steel Curtain Dynasty that won four super Bowls in the 70s, did more steroids than Arnold Schwarzenegger in a 1980’s bodybuilding competition. But that’s O.k. I guess, because it’s football.
So I'm not going to blast them down like Bishop did Raheem in the cult classic “Juice.” You’d have to be pretty naïve to still be trying to single out specific players and teams and have them own the “cheater” title. Baseball was a culture of ballers who were encouraged to cheat for the “love” of the game. Now that PED use has gone from totally acceptable to an example of MLB evil, like smoking cigarettes in a NY restaurant has become, I’m not going to arbitrarily use that argument to diss squads I don’t like.
JAMES: Well I'm still gonna keep it in my back pocket, but let's move on. Roids or not, both of these teams are consistent features in the playoffs and World Series. St. Louis is a stalwart of the NL -- you described them as Hyundai-like in your column recently because they always get where they're going -- while Boston has been a bit more up-and-down, though they do play in the toughest division in baseball. Which team is more likely to keep holdin' it down after 2013?
MOKE: Both teams are model franchises, especially over the past decade. Neither squad appears to be slowing down and they both have a farm system full of prospects, so with a little luck the future should remain bright for both.
In baseball, consistency and finances are the key to sustained success. St. Louis is considered small market, but it spends and runs its organization like a large-market franchise. Some baseball teams are built for the 162-game regular season and some have the pitching, defense and clutch hitting to turn any five or seven game playoff series in their favor. Boston and St. Louis are perennial contenders and in baseball that is rare.
I'd have to give St. Louis the slight edge, only because it usually takes much less games for a team to win the NL Central than it does for a team to win the loaded AL East. When the Cardinals won it all in ’06, they were a pedestrian 83-78 in the regular season, but they handled everybody including a 95-win Detroit Tigers team in the WS.
Boston has a much tougher road because of the obstacles they must conquer in solid Yankees, Orioles and Tamp Bay teams, as well as a Toronto squad that wouldn’t be in last place in most other divisions. But the tougher competition also leaves Boston often better prepared to defeat teams who have played lesser competition. Look no further than Boston's World Series record, 8-0 in their last two World Series. In fact, they swept the Cardinals in '04 and then crushed a red-hot, surprise Colorado Rockies team in '07. When the Bean Town Bashers get to this point in the season, they don't lose.
JAMES: This brings me to one of my biggest gripes with baseball, which we'll address quickly before getting into predictions: Divisions. How can you have teams finishing above .500 in fourth place in some divisions, while a .500 record is good for second in others? At this point, should MLB just get rid of 'em?
MOKE: Baseball is more stuck in tradition and unwilling to waver from it than the other major sports. While the NFL and NBA institute rule changes faster than Usain Bolt in a 20-yard dash, baseball prides itself on preserving the "old standard" of doing things.
At least they have added the Wild Cards, so that shows a willingness to alter the game plan when necessary (Mostly if it supplies new revenue streams for MLB). Imagine how teams like the 1985 Mets who won 98 games and got nothing because St. Louis won 101 games that season, or the 1980 Baltimore Orioles who won 100 games and still finished three games behind the Yankees, felt.
Probably like they won a date with a famous actress and Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe showed up. I’m just saying...
Back then, fewer teams made the playoffs so there were some disgruntled juggernauts who never saw the postseason.
I always thought it was a bit unfair that an 85-win team in a sucky division could go to the playoffs over a 95-win team in a loaded division, but that's baseball. Every fan thinks certain rules suck, especially when they’re team suffers because of it. To this day, Raiders fans despise the Tuck Rule and everything it once represented. The wheels of change move incrementally and sometimes not at all in baseball. It’s just a part of the game that makes it unique.
JAMES: I've never understood baseball's "it's a part of the game" phrase. Yeah...but it's a bad part of the game, so we should change it.
But let's wrap this up. Time to put your money where your mouth is. I'm taking the Cards in six, mostly because they have a stud rookie pitcher who you nicknamed Wacha Flocka Flames.
MOKE: Yeah, Wacha is a young gun that leaves teams stankin' on the mound. But how can you go against players who have never lost a World Series game in their careers. Outside of Babe Ruth, Big Papi is probably the most clutch postseason performer in the history of the game. I put him before Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter. Boston has all of the pieces -- the power, the clutch hitting, the pitching, and most importantly they led the AL in steals.
World Series games are often won and lost through run manufacturing and speed. See Boston in the ALCS against the Yankees in 2004. The Yankees led Boston 3-0 and then the mythical playoff bat of Papi Ortiz and a steal turned the entire series around.
St. Louis has some horses, and Carlos Beltran does deserve a WS ring, but only a fool would go against Papi, Pedroia and Co. in a World Series.
There's three things that are guaranteed in life: Aging, Death and Papi Ortiz crushing pitchers in the late-innings of meaningful October baseball. Bet against that if you want to.