Mad Max: An origin story
I’m actually pretty giddy to get to write about this, y’all. Mighty Mad Mizzou Max Scherzer (all the alliterations) with his multi-colored eyes is one of my favorite topics— aside from Mizzou hoops, my first - and obvious - love. There’s nothing I’d like to see more than Max sporting a Cards uniform one day, but that’s another topic for another day, and I sincerely wish the Nats the best of luck in their quest for a World Series. Today we’re reminiscing about Mighty Mad Max’s days as a Mizzou Tiger, when he went by an entirely different nickname— Juice.
In this piece by The Athletic’s Rustin Dodd (who you may remember from his KC Star days), we (subscribers) are treated to an absolute gem of a very in-depth piece that takes us through an oral history of three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer’s time at Missouri, as told by former teammates and coaches.
The first part of the story focuses on Mad Max before he became the actual “Mad Max.” His competitive spirit has been alive and well since his high school days playing baseball and basketball at Parkway Central. Teammates talked about watching him play against former UNC icon, Tyler Hansbrough, in the high school hoops Final 4 in CoMo, snarling in fall ball games, screaming expletives during an intersquad game, howling about missing a spot in bullpen sessions, and his lofty goals (at raised decibels) about hitting 100mph on the radar gun...
The second part of the story focuses on his frustrating and motivating freshman season at Missouri, and how he decided he was going to outwork everyone to make himself better. He turned long-tosses into games and he held grudges that he didn’t have the opportunity to pitch enough.
From Tony Vitello, assistant coach, 2003-10:
Vitello: We’re playing Texas and we beat them on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday, they crush us. We’re down big, and Max didn’t pitch. Well, I’m coming around the corner, and Max is standing there bowed up. He was never, ever disrespectful to me, even in this situation. But basically, he was ready to fight. He wanted to know why he didn’t pitch in the game. He’s so smart — he was right. He was like, “That was the perfect chance for me to get some experience.” And I’m like, “You’re not pitching because you have seven walks per nine innings.”
The third part focuses on Max, the very frugal college student, who loved him some $5 all-you-can-eat pizza buffets at Cici’s. (personal slightly “spidery” as you all call it, side note- allow athletes to benefit off their name and likeness, please). Even after his signing bonus, it was the same Max. This section of the story is truly comical, and worth the price of admission (subscription) alone...
From Taylor Parker, former pitcher:
Parker: He’d be more than happy to go to one of his favorite bars his junior year and buy you two or three drinks if it’s part of a team get-together or a big event. But I can remember having him buy drinks all night and then the next day you’re going to the facility and he’s reminding me that I owe him $5 for Taco Bell.
I could go on and on about this all day, friends. It was a wildly entertaining look into Mighty Mad Mizzou Max. I didn’t even get to Part 4— how he became known as “Juice” (!!!), but will tell you, it’s a reference to him talking about throwing “the juice.” I also didn’t get into part 5, about his duel with former Nebraska player/Yankees’ great, Joba Chamberlain, that was compared to the Carpenter-Halladay duel of the 2011 NLCS. Or parts 6 (literally taping his mouth shut to prevent from swearing so he would be allowed to hit) - 9 (crushing 3 fully loaded burritos at Chipotle) or the finale, part 10! But alas, at some point, I can’t give away the whole damn farm, and I don’t want to anger our friends at The Athletic.
Y’all, you need to subscribe to The Athletic. I mean, really. I know... I KNOW... who wants to pay for their sports news, but for real— it’s worth it. You can read the wildly entertaining piece in full here. I also reference another piece by Peter Baugh below in the links, and Sam & Matt did a pod with CJ Moore the other day, who does some fantastic work on hoops. It’s worth it. WORTH IT... (link to free 7-day trial below)
I’m done pandering now. On to the links... still separated for your viewing pleasure, and I tried to find a bunch of non-revenue sports info for you guys today.
Yesterday at Rock M
- BK penned a love letter to Derek Dooley, and it’s a a MUST-READ.
- Ryan wrote an excellent piece about how Dawson Downing might be part of the next great RB trio.
- Nate tackled the Vanderbilt defense in a preview post. All you can say is Vandy fields a full defense... so there’s that.
- Sammy wrote about how it’s time to get on board with the Missouri football team.
- Nate was back with another podcast episode of Before the Box Score for your ear holes. This time around, he chatted with The Batman (and my dear friend), Ryan Faller, because it seems that no one from Vandy “was available” to chat about their team. Give it a listen... or, if you’re more of a reader, the recap can be found here. (shameless plug)
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr Matter has been quite busy! He published a piece about the current state of Vanderbilt football and its inglorious history. He also held weekly chat on STL Today.
- Matter & BenFred put out a new episode of their Eye on the Tigers Pod, focusing on what will (potentially) be on the line the next time this Tiger team plays at home.
- PowerMizzou (free): Mitchell Forde wrote an excellent piece about former walk-on Dawson Downing and how his determination is paying off, both on and off the field. Highly recommend it.
- Rivals.com/PowerMizzou ($$): Sean Williams chatted with some Mizzou football commits about Mizzou’s 5-1 start and #22 ranking.
- KC Star: Adam Cole also wrote about Dawson Downing, a popular topic this week! He wrote about Downing’s journey up the depth-chart ladder, as well as how going anywhere else other than Mizzou was not an option.
- Columbia Missourian: Liam Quinn chatted with players about the impact of travel and how it affects preparations.
- Saturday Down South: Keith Farner discussed five things he’d like to see out of Missouri against Vanderbilt on Saturday.
- SEC Network: Kelly Bryant appeared on Marty & McGee, describing the Tigers’ identity as “swagger”. Have a look/listen!
- The Athletic ($$)- Peter Baugh published a piece about KB’s burgeoning relationship with his receivers, a bunch of whom he lives with... As always, if you’re not subscribing to The Athletic and you’d like to take advantage of a free 7-day trial, you can go to this link, http://theathletic.com/freetrial
- MUTigers.com previewed Women’s Hoops newcomer, St. Louis native and Texas Tech transfer, Shug Dickson.
- Amber Smith represented Mizzou at the SEC Tip-off in Birmingham, and met with the crew, talking about Coach P’s culture. Check it out!
- The Maneater: Wilson Moore wrote a story about redshirt junior Mitchell Smith’s role as a combo of power forward and center, who could see himself as a key contributor in Cuonzo Martin’s offense.
- Blake Lovell (of clutchpoints.com) talked to head coach Cuonzo Martin about his thoughts on the recent preseason media poll that pegged his Tigers as 13th in the standings. People seem to be overlooking that they have many guys who played major minutes in the SEC last season, and the amount of work they’ve put in since then.
- 20 days till the premiere of Big Guard U! You can also now get your single game tickets now here.
Other Mizzou Sports
- Mizzou soccer is back on the road this weekend, facing Kentucky tonight at 6:30pm on SEC Network+. They’re hoping to run away with their second SEC win.
- Mizzou gymnastics released their 2020 schedule on MUTigers.com. The slate includes competitions with 11 teams that finished in the top 25 in 2019, including five matchups with programs in the top 10. Wow!
- The no. 13/6 men’s & women’s Mizzou swimming & diving team will host perennial powerhouse, Florida (ranked 7/10, respectively) on Friday in their SEC opener, beginning at 9:30am. The meet will be shown live on SEC Network +.
Former Mizzou Player News
- Mizzou in the... XFL!