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Friday, September 30, 2005
Updated: October 3, 12:36 PM ET
Playoff theories: Do they hold up?

By Jeff Merron and David Schoenfield
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Theory popularized by: Hey, didn't the Red Sox win it all last year?

1. Pitching wins championships
2. You gotta play small ball
3. You have to be hot entering postseason
4. You need playoff experience
5. You need to have a true No. 1 ace
6. You need a strong bullpen
7. You need to play well in one-run games
8. You have to be a good defensive team
9. Anything can happen

The numbers (Examining the postseason since 1995)
In 70 postseason series, the team with more regular-season wins won 32 times; the team with fewer victories won 36 times (two series involved teams with an identical number of wins).

In the best-of-five division series round, there have been 40 series: The team with more regular-season victories has won 17 times and lost 21 times (in two series, the teams had the same number of wins).

In the league championship series, the team with more regular-season victories is 12-8 in 20 series.

In the World Series, the team with more regular-season victories is 5-5. Only twice has there been a matchup of each league's top regular-season team (1999, Yankees over Braves; and 1995, Braves over Indians).

Eight out of 20 teams with the best-regular season mark in their league have made it to the World Series.

Jason Varitek
In October, anything does happen. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Nine teams "seeded" No. 3 or 4 have made it to the Series.

Since 1995, the team with the best regular-season record has won the World Series only once (1998 Yankees). But four wild-card teams have won the World Series (1997 Marlins, 2002 Angels, 2003 Marlins, 2004 Red Sox).

Indeed, anything has happened.

Theory applied to 2005 playoff teams
The Cards can't relax. The Padres can win it all. And the White Sox, with 88 years since their last World Series crown? Maybe we can end this "curse" thing two years in a row.

And that's what makes October so special ... you can take nearly all these playoff theories and ignore them. Follow our evidence -- there is no unifying playoff theory, except ours: Anything can happen.