Jason Frasor wasn’t exactly Ernie Banks, the Cubs star who played in more games (2,528) without appearing in the postseason than anyone in baseball history.
Still, during a big-league career that began in 2004 and included what Frasor has called pitching "in a lot of meaningless games," he came to wonder if he’d ever have the chance.
That was especially true after last season, when he was with the Texas Rangers as they lost 5-2 to Tampa Bay in a Game 163 for the playoffs.
"If this isn’t a playoff team," he thought at the time, "I don’t know if I’m ever going to make it."
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By this season’s end, no current major-league pitcher had worked in more games (647) without a playoff appearance.
So maybe Frasor, 37, is enjoying this Royals run as much as anyone, from the clinching game in Chicago, his hometown, to being the winning pitcher in the wild-card game against Oakland to the sweep of the Angels in which he appeared twice without giving up a run.
Frasor, acquired in July for minor-league pitcher Spencer Patton, suddenly has consumed more champagne in the last few weeks than he’d had before in his entire life combined, he said.
And he’s crossed a few things off his bucket list.
"Champagne shower, dogpile on the field -- two things I never really thought I’d be able to do," he said.
But he’s still got another active streak intact.
"Here’s another one for you: longest-tenured pitcher without an at-bat," said Frasor, who also has had two stints in Toronto and played with the White Sox. "I enjoy that record, but I’d like to step in that box one time."
What Booing Means: Reserve catcher Erik Kratz, 34, also is active for his first playoff series, though it’s not quite the same feeling for him since he was with the Phillies for the 2011 postseason and didn’t reach the major leagues until he was 30.
But he still has a feel for the scene since being acquired from Toronto in July.
"Morale might be up in Kansas City," he said, "but work-place production might be down."
As we were chatting about the wild-card game, the subject turned to the boos of manager Ned Yost after his decision backfired to insert Yordano Ventura for James Shields.
"Fans will always be honest," he said. "I played in Philly, and people feel like, ‘Aw, Philly, they’re tough, aren’t they?’ I don’t think they’re tough.
"My opinion is the fans, yeah, they boo you, but I’ve never seen a fan boo somebody when they hit a home run or get a hit or strike somebody out. Fans are honest, if you want them to not boo you when don’t do good, then do good, you know?
"(Because) you’re booing yourself inside."
Keeping Them Honest: Asked about the threat of designated hitter Billy Butler trying to steal another base, Yost said, "I think we’ve pretty much seen all of Billy’s green lights extinguished. But you never know, you just have to wait and see."
But there still could be at least a minor ripple from that.
Opponents may have to at least hold him on, which might run counter to how they want to be positioned.
"It’s the same way when guys bunt on the shift," he said. "They’re not going to change the way they do things until you force them to, alright? So if you bunt on the shift, and all of a sudden you’re successful at it and you do it again, it’s got to (make them) second-guess that strategy."
Nothing New: First baseman Eric Hosmer used a credit card to pick up a $15,000 tab for Royals fans at McFadden’s in the Power & Light District on Sunday night after the Royals swept the Angels. Teammates ultimately contributed to about $12,000 of that.
George Brett jokingly wondered what all the fuss was about. After all, when the Royals made their first postseason appearance in 1976, he said, he "took some guys out. Bar bill was $25. It wasn’t 20 grand, but I bought some fans a drink. Beer was a lot cheaper back then."
More seriously, Brett suggested the modern fan has more connection and even interaction with players than those of his era because of social media (several Royals players announced they’d be going to McFadden’s via Twitter) and being on TV virtually every day.
Buck’s Advisor: Because even decades later everything makes me think of "Seinfeld," for the Royals’ sake, let’s hope Baltimore manager Buck Showalter still is open to advice from the likes of George Costanza.