“Coming through the Braves organization, and seeing us win all those division titles and not advance far in the times I was there through the postseason, I always felt that was the mentality that we took,” DeRosa said. “You know, play it like any other series during the regular season.
“I like putting the added pressure, the finality of it, the football mentality of it. So, that’ll be my little speech to the guys tomorrow: There is no tomorrow. Even though that’s stating the obvious, if you approach each pitch like that . . . you can’t do it for 162, but you can do it for a short series, you can do it when the money is on the line.”
DeRosa kept going, making sense amid all the denial from some of his teammates about not pressing as hitters: “We need to draw on the fact that we’ve been the best baseball team for 162. And we just got to win one game tomorrow. Realize what’s at stake. I mean, it sounds so corny, when you’re in the backyard as a kid you’re not thinking about playing a May game in wherever. You’re thinking about these moments right here. Embrace it.
“I always say [to teammates]. ‘Take a moment. Step out and embrace the towels going around. Want the moment. Want the ball hit to you. Want the big at-bat.’ I think that’s the mentality, even if you fail, if you keep going up there and having that mentality, good things will happen more so than the other way if you’re scared — and I don’t see that being the case.”
Look, the Nationals won 10 more games than St. Louis because they have a better bullpen and a better bench than the Cardinals. They won more games than any other team because their starting rotation was scary good, and because their bats responded when they needed them most.
That team is still there, in hibernation, looking awestruck in the moment. If they would just take on their manager’s cocksure persona a little more the next two days, they will find much more satisfaction and longevity in this postseason than they can possibly imagine.
For Mike Wise’s previous columns visit washingtonpost.com/wise.