WASHINGTON -- Mark DeRosa has read Teddy Roosevelt's famous "The Man in the Arena" speech plenty of times before big games -- quietly, to himself. As the Nationals milled about their clubhouse before Thursday's win-or-go-home Game 4, however, DeRosa decided to share it with his teammates, albeit perhaps a slightly more colorful version.
"Epic," closer Drew Storen said of the veteran's pregame pep talk. "The stuff movies are made of."
DeRosa took to the karaoke machine situated between his and Michael Morse's lockers, as he often does before games, and read Roosevelt's entire speech. He planned on being "a little less funny and a little more serious" than usual, but he spiced it up enough to get several Nationals running into the clubhouse to hear it.
"They won't listen to me if I don't throw a few jokes in there," laughed DeRosa, who isn't on Washington's playoff roster but has still found a way to contribute as a mentor. "I've got to give something, right? I feel like if they're going to keep me around and keep me here, there's a reason for it."
DeRosa concluded his speech in a typically light-hearted manner, saying, "You know who spoke these words? Teddy. Effin'. Roosevelt." As humorous as it may have been, first baseman Adam LaRoche said it absolutely motivated the Nationals before their 2-1 win, if only because of the respect his teammates have for DeRosa, one of the few in that clubhouse to have played on such a big stage.
"He's a great leader," catcher Kurt Suzuki added. "What a great guy to have here, and a great guy to turn to in a situation like this."
So, the question had to be asked: Will DeRosa grab hold of the microphone before Game 5 on Friday night and read Roosevelt's words once again?
"I don't think so," he said. "If we don't realize what's at stake tomorrow..."