The 2013 season will be unlike any other in Max Scherzer’s life. It isn’t starting with his brother.
At night, in moments of anxiousness or hopefulness, Max Scherzer still reaches for his cell phone, wanting to talk to Alex. He’ll find himself in a hotel room, tired after another stunning start for the Detroit Tigers, and wonder what Alex thought of the outing. Or he’ll be at his condominium in Arizona, watching cable news, and think of a question only Alex could answer. All these months later, he can still see his little brother. Tall, handsome, with that goofy smile.
Alex, too, would reach for the phone whenever he had something to tell Max. He’d peck out a message, if only to let his brother know he was thinking about him. Back in September 2011, Max had struggled through a few starts. After one outing, in which he gave up several bloop hits, Max wondered what he’d done to deserve such bad luck. Alex typed a brief message: “If there’s anything I’ve taught you, it’s that #1 shit happens, #2 the non-scientific meaning is that you’ve now banked your juju for the playoffs.”
Max hasn’t deleted that text or the hundreds of others from Alex. He’ll never remove his brother’s number from his call list. In that phone are their lives together, moments precious now because they can never be recaptured. Publicly Max rarely discusses Alex. The 28-year-old says so little about his brother that his parents, Brad and Jan, worry about him, and how he’s coping. Max simply tells them that he wants to focus on his starts, knowing that a solid outing will give his parents a brief reprieve from their grief.
But at night he doesn’t stay so mentally vigilant, and if only for a second, when he needs the comfort, he tricks himself into thinking Alex is there, has a phone in his hands, is ready to talk one more time.
As kids growing up in Chesterfield, Mo., you didn’t see one Scherzer boy without the other. Max and Alex played whiffle ball in the back yard, basketball on the driveway, pingpong in the basement. In the summers, they’d visit the family’s lake house 45 miles outside St. Louis. They’d track frogs and crawdads in a creek bed, splashing together among the rocks. “They were classic, all-American kids,” Brad Scherzer says. “Our boys.”
Max was three years older than Alex, born in 1984 with heterochromia, a condition that left Max’s eyes miscolored. One was brown and pensive, the other blue and piercing. Max was the athlete of the pair, the kid who knew in third grade he’d become a professional baseball player. Few things pleased him more than blowing those whiffle balls past his brother; Alex would hack away and hear Max laughing in the distance. Alex was the cautious one, the articulate one, the kid caught up in numbers and their meanings — always balancing risks and rewards. Consider all factors, he’d often say, preternaturally mature.
One night, Jan Scherzer heard her sons jumping on one of the upstairs beds. There was a crash, followed by immediate silence. Jan rushed upstairs and found a vase, broken to bits, on the floor. “Who did it?” she asked. Slowly, Max raised a finger. So did Alex. They were pointing at the dog. Jan had to admire their solidarity. Her vase was smashed, but her boys wouldn’t crack.
Everyone needs to read this.
Even if you’re not a Tigers fan, even if you’re not a baseball fan.
Just read this.
TW’s for death, depression, and suicide.
So Tim Lincecum avoids arbitration by signing a 40.5M/2yr deal. Two more years of Timmy before the bidding war begins in his free agency.
Meanwhile, Prince Fielder signs to the Tigers for 214M/9yr. Holy shit.
Tigers/Rangers ALCS. I like the matchup.