Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer is putting together the kind of season most pitchers only dream of. Thanks to his sparkling 13-1 record and 3.19 ERA, the 28-year old former Missouri star started Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game last week and is well on his way toward the best season of his career.
That said, I figured this past weekend was as good a time as any to head to Kauffman Stadium and catch up with Scherzer, who was in town for the Tigers’ three-game series against the Royals. You can check out my story on how Royals reliever Aaron Crow is handling his former college teammate’s successhere
Here’s the rest of my short interview with Scherzer, in which we discuss the state of Mizzou’s baseball, hoops and football programs.
Question: Baseball players spend a ton of time on the road, thanks to the 162-game season. But how much do you follow MU’s baseball team?
“A bunch of my buddies still live in Columbia, so I still get updates on how the team is doing and where the program is going. I’m a Tiger for life, M-I-Z all the way.”
Q: Have you talked to Coach (Tim) Jamieson recently?
“We talk to each other every now in then, just to stay in touch. I’m always a big supporter of his and a big supporter of the program.”
Q: Looking back, how did the time you spent at Missouri help shape your baseball career?
“Oh my God, it helped me in so many ways. Going to Mizzou was the best choice I ever made. From a baseball standpoint, from the strength training program they were on…it fit right into my mentality and personality, as well. I met so many good friends there. It was just the time of my life.”
Q: Much has been made about Missouri’s move to the Southeastern Conference. Nearly a year and a half into it, how do you feel about the decision?
“Obviously, the SEC is probably the best conference, overall. I just think it’s a good thing. You always want to play amongst the best — you never measure yourself against the worst. I’m glad Mizzou has taken that (to heart).”
Q: The rumor around the clubhouse is that you’re a huge hoops fan. What do you think of the season MU’s basketball team had last year (23-11 and an NCAA Tournament appearance)?
“I love the talent the team had. They played so well at home and yet, they always lost by one or two points on the road. That’s what just kills you, because you know they were better than that. You know the talent they had.”
Q: I noticed the pain in your voice when you said that. Did you watch the NCAA Tournament loss to Norfolk State the year before?
“Yeah, that one killed me (laugh). I was running my mouth in this clubhouse chirping, (saying things) like ‘we got screwed, we didn’t get the one-seed but we’re going to run it anyway, Obama’s picking us for the Final Four …’ I had fun with that. So that one hurt.”
Q: Did you see any football games last season?
“Whenever they’re on TV and I catch a game, I always try to follow them. I’m always going to be a huge Mizzou fan. And whenever I can go to a game, I will.”
Q: What do you think about the state of the football program?
A: “You saw some positive signs (last year). Being a fan, you hope those positive signs turn into more big-time plays and eventually, wins. I’m cheering for Coach (Gary) Pinkel and the rest of the staff. Hopefully they have a big year.”