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The Key To Post-Season Success: Good Luck Finding It!

The key is having a ridiculous looking mascot. Curse you, handsome normal-looking Stomper!
The key is having a ridiculous looking mascot. Curse you, handsome normal-looking Stomper!
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Because not every team can have Buddy Biancalana or Billy Hatcher.

If the 2014 Kansas City Royals have proven one thing, though, it's that you win in the post-season through "small ball" as they did against the A's in the wild card game and then ...

Wait. Jarrod Dyson keeps getting thrown out stealing but the Royals keep clobbering homeruns. How inconvenient.

I guess you could ascribe the success to the managers, except that Kansas City and Baltimore keep winning in spite of their managers, not because of them. Two of the most clueless strategists are fighting it out for a chance to represent the AL in the World Series.

Dingerz!!! You probably know that the Royals were last in the AL with 95 HRs, the only big league team that failed to hit triple digits. Do you know who was last in the NL with a paltry 105? Your St. Louis Cardinals. That would also be the team that knocked out "the team with an unbeatable ace" ... by beating him twice.

Bullpens, baby, bullpens! This may be the closest to a meme that has a ring of truthiness. Yet, does anyone really believe that Santiago Casilla is a better closer than Sean Doolittle? Other than, that is, a handful of flukey moments in critical post-season games? When you have to stretch to "bullpen clutchiness!!!!" it's a sign that you should probably move on to a new theory.

And in finding that new theory, I wish you luck. Winning 116 games, mashing HRs, running like the wind, "4 aces," "4 closers," a clubhouse that is loose and wacky, a clubhouse that is "all business" ... it has all been tried and you know what? It has all worked and it has all failed.

So far, the best algorithm I have been able to come up with is, "Be the Giants in an even year." And for 29 teams that's hard to do. Heck, it's even hard for the 30th team half the time. Perhaps Cindi is right after all; maybe it really is about having the right balance of Geminis and Pieces.

In other gnus...

Props To Jesse Chavez

It gets a lot of press when a player complains. Malcontents make for terrific front page fodder. That's why today I wanted to take a moment to recognize Jesse Chavez, because while Seinfeld can make a hit show about nothing rarely does "nothing" make the news.

Chavez was yanked from the starting rotation midway through a very successful season, then instead of being rested and returned to the rotation or utilized much out of the bullpen he pretty much atrophied, pitching only often enough to show his rust and then return to obscurity.

Through all of this -- and while enduring the added frustration that his team was tanking and no one around the team could have been in the greatest mood -- Chavez has never said an angry or critical word. His silence suggests an attitude of, "What the team feels is best for the team" and I think that is praise-worthy.

Now you may feel Chavez had no more good innings left in him no matter what, and you may be right. At least one person seems to disagree and that is former teammate Pat Neshek, whose comments on the A's second-half demise are about as direct and extreme as any that have come out in the wake of Oakland's collapse. It's a good read on a topic I have promised not to opine on further, so I will just provide the link for those who haven't seen it and might be interested.

Happy Sunday and remember: The single key to post-season success, as I have just determined in my scientific baseball lab, is to --

{gets hit by poison dart, keels over dramatically and tragically until splayed across rug to be found, slightly decomposed, three days later}