" -- and if you've never heard a dachshund singing Dylan before, you're in for a real treat! Mike?"
"That's one amazing dog, Dahlia -- thanks! Well, it's that time of year again, Tim -- time for playoff baseball, when everything can be riding on a single pitch or a swing of the bat."
"Absolutely true, Mike. And we've got Margot standing by with a certain skipper of a certain playoff-bound team, and I'll bet he knows all about post-season excitement. So how're our guys going to do, Margot?"
"Thanks, Tim -- that's exactly what I'm about to ask this gentleman right next to me. How's it going, Skip?"
"We're feeling pretty good, Margot. We're ready. We had a couple of rocky patches earlier in the season, but we came through 'em OK, and right now we're in pretty good shape."
"The post-season is almost like a season of its own, isn't it?"
"Definitely. You've got your regular season, and then you've got your post-season -- it's almost like a season of its own."
"Exactly! And then there's the format -- best-of-five, then best-of-seven. A short series like that -- what can happen in a short series, Skip?"
"Anything can happen in a short series, Margot."
"Does that make things very predictable?"
"Just the opposite, Margot -- it makes things very unpredictable."
"Which is why I'm sure you're warning your guys about over-confidence."
"Absolutely. A short series like this, you never know what's going to happen. You've got to be ready for anything, but you never want to be over-confident."
"Have you seen good teams go down in the playoffs?"
"I've seen plenty of good teams go down in the playoffs, Margot."
"I'll bet it leaves you with a feeling."
"An empty feeling, Margot."
"That's what I figured. Of course, those folks in the other dugout will have something to say about how it goes, won't they?"
"No question. That's a really good team over there, and he's got 'em playing some really smart baseball."
"Are they hungry?"
"They're really hungry, Margot. A young team like that, never been to the playoffs before -- they're definitely hungry."
"But your guys are hungry, too, aren't they?"
"Oh, our guys are always hungry. A veteran team like ours, they know how precious this time of year is."
"It's almost like a season of its own."
"Exactly. So what'll it come down to?"
"It'll come down to pitching, Margot. You can't beat 'em if they score more runs than you do."
"Spoken like a true veteran!"
"Well, it's what I tell our guys before every game -- 'You can't beat 'em if they score more runs than we do.'"
"And where do they take that?"
"They take it to heart, Margot. They definitely take it to heart."
"And their belts?"
"They tighten 'em a notch. Sometimes a couple of notches -- it depends."
"On how hungry they are?"
"And how big their belts are."
"It all depends."
"You know, it's almost like a season of its -- "
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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.