Tony Vitello often talks about his close friend in the major leagues with his players and prospective recruits. It’s an easy hook. Max Scherzer is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
The head baseball coach at Tennessee tells them Scherzer’s greatest weapon is his “super powerful brain.” He preaches about Scherzer’s most important skill — his ability to constantly evolve in his craft to remain elite. And he explains what he’s really like when he’s off the mound, when the intensity is switched off, when Mad Max — the scowling, self-muttering, mesmerizing hurler — becomes Max Scherzer.
The best recent example Vitello could think of happened just over a week ago after one of Scherzer’s best performances as a major leaguer.
Erica Scherzer sent text blasts to family and friends a few days before, once she knew when her husband was scheduled to make his next start for the Dodgers. Max was six strikeouts from becoming the 19th pitcher to record 3,000 in a major league career. He would surely reach the mark that Sunday at Dodger Stadium against the San Diego Padres. She wanted as many loved ones there as possible.
His parents and a few friends, including Vitello, made the trip to Los Angeles on the short notice to watch alongside Erica and the couple’s three children. Scherzer not only reached 3,000, but he flirted with a perfect game. He didn’t allow a baserunner until…