Another striking example of how teams with a strong philosophy, chemistry, situational hitting and relief pitching win in the playoffs -- not bloated payrolls -- came this past week in Major League Baseball. The heavily favored Dodgers, Angels, Nationals and Tigers were quickly eliminated in favor of the Cardinals, Royals, Giants and Orioles. If big money was the key to winning in the playoffs, different teams would have won.

The Dodgers have a payroll that tops the majors with $235 million, yet they lost to the Cardinals who paid players $111 million. The Angels payroll was $155 million and they lost to Kansas City, who paid $92 million. Detroit had a payroll of $162 million, and the Tigers lost to the Orioles with $107 million. The exception was the Giants, who were were salaried at $154 million because of players who have won two World Series in the last four years. The Nationals were $20 million less. So, something besides payroll was at work in these playoffs.

Teams like San Francisco and St. Louis are built around strong philosophies. St. Louis calls it "The Cardinal Way." This is the fourth straight year the Cards are in the NLCS. They have strong a farm system. They have heavy team leadership, where older players mentor younger players, as do the Giants. As a result, a definite team chemistry and bond is formed among the players. In addition, Kansas City developed amazing team rapport this season. These teams play "small ball," do not rely on home runs and instead feature smart hitting, base running and strategy. They have strong relief pitching. This approach gives St. Louis, San Francisco and Kansas City the ability to win in tight games. Every player is able to bunt or hit a sacrifice fly and deliver what is needed in that game situation.

The Angels, who won their most recent World Series in 2002, dominated baseball this year with good chemistry and total participation. They lost their best performing pitcher, Garrett Richards, and an additional starter, Tyler Skaggs, to injury this summer. They put on the brakes and played minor leaguers with several weeks to go and lost their momentum and batting eye. The Angels have moved to a strategy of aging superstars paid on long term contracts for past performance rather than realistic future projections. Josh Hamilton went 0-13 in the recent series and they are stuck with two more years at $25 and $30 million. Albert Pujols had limited success in the series.

The Dodgers used to have a set lineup of players developed in the minors who knew how to situationally hit and deal with the distant dimension of Dodger Stadium. Their chemistry was weak this year, with little leadership. Their highly paid aging free agents spent much time on the injury list. They could not hit in the playoffs at Dodger Stadium. No one could have predicted Cy Young Award winning pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, coming off a phenomenal season, would lose two games.

Strong starting and relief pitching with great situational hitting and good defense is the formula for winning in the postseason. Team rapport and good leadership is also key. What wins pennants does not seem to be the same skill set as needed in a short series. Baseball is enhanced by new playoff teams like the Royals and the Orioles being in the mix. Until someone figures out what the Cardinals and Giants have utilized and can replicate it, those teams will continue to dominate in the postseason.

-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @leighsteinberg.

Royals Party Like It's 1985

 

TV Classics

Network hits on the air include "Who's The Boss?" "The Love Boat," "Diff'rent Strokes" and "The Cosby Show.

 

Michael Jordan Is 1985 NBA Rookie Of The Year

But he breaks his foot three games into the 1985-86 season.

 

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV BECOMES LEADER OF SOVIET UNION

Gorbachev was appointed General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, then the highest office in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev replaced Konstantin Chernenko and held the office until August 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved.

 

MATTINGLY WINS MVP AWARD

Today he's the manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Back then, though, Don Mattingly was a dominant hitter for the New York Yankees, winning the 1985 AL MVP award.

 

RONALD REAGAN BEINGS SECOND TERM

In January 1985, Ronald Reagan was sworn in to begin his second term as President of the United States.

 

ABDUL-JABBAR LEADS LAKERS TO TITLE

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics for the first time ever in the NBA Finals. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took home the NBA Finals MVP award.

 

Madonna Tops The Charts

"Like A Virgin" opened the year as the No. 1 song, and she is among the performers that summer at Live Aid.

 

DEREK JETER WAS 11 YEARS OLD

This year's most celebrated baseball player was just a young dreamer in 1985.

 

DOS Version 3.2 Is Released

The Mac is less than 2 years old.

 

ROSE BECOMES ALL-TIME HITS LEADER

In September 1985, Pete Rose surpassed Ty Cobb to become Major League Baseball's all-time hits leaders.

 

CHERRY COKE MAKES DEBUT

Coke unveiled its popular Cherry Coke soft drink, which became a popular beverage that is still sold today.

 

OZZIE GUILLEN WINS AL ROY

Ozzie Guillen was still wet behind the ears in 1985, when he won the AL Rookie of the Year award with the Chicago White Sox. Guillen would have a long history with the White Sox, managing the club to a World Series championship in 2005.

 

HOWARD COSELL RETIRES

The long-time sports broadcaster retired from ABC after a 20-year run that set the standard for his successors.

 

Jerry Rice Is A Rookie

In the 1985 NFL draft, Rice is the third receiver selected, behind Al Toon (Jets) and Eddie Brown (Bengals). On Oct. 6, 1985, Rice catches his first touchdown pass, a 25-yarder from Joe Montana in Atlanta.

 

'Back To Future' Is Box Office King

The time-travel caper starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson is 1985's top grossing movie with nearly $211 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.

 

Mario Lemieux Is 1985 NHL Rookie Of The Year

Lemieux leads the Penguins to the Stanley Cup title in 1991 and 1992 as a player and 2009 as the owner.

 

IOWA ENJOYS RUN AS NO. 1 TEAM

The Hawkeyes spend several weeks atop the national college football rankings. But a championship season was not meant to be: Iowa suffers a loss on the road at Ohio State, 22-13, and finishes the season 10-2.

 

Challenger Gears Up For Flight

This space shuttle's last successful mission takes off on Oct. 30, 1985.

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