Nationals vs. Cardinals: Max Scherzer isn’t interested in talking about growing up a Cardinals fan

ST. LOUIS — Nationals ace/spirit animal Max Scherzer will start Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cardinals on Saturday. Game 2 will take place at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. 

As amply chronicled, Scherzer, now 35, was born in St. Louis and attended high school in Chesterfield, Missouri, which is roughly 20 miles from the site of the current Busch Stadium. As the story goes, Scherzer grew up a Cardinals fan and attended a number of games at the prior version of Busch. The Cardinals even spent a 43rd-round draft pick on Scherzer back in 2003, but he wound up honoring his commitment to the University of Missouri. 

Obviously, Scherzer was asked about this backstory on Friday in the interview room at Busch, a day ahead of his Game 2 start. Scherzer was asked to talk about going to Busch with his dad as a kid and to also reflect upon some Cardinals moments prominent in his mind. Scherzer, in the manner that has come to typify his competitive intensity, had little time for nostalgia: 

“Yeah, grew up here,” Scherzer began, “but at this point in time really doesn’t mean anything because I got a bigger task at hand, and that’s to go out here and win it for the Nats. So that’s where my mind’s at.”

Look, when you ask the pitcher who yells bad words at himself on the mound and leaves managers bent on removing him quaking in their spikes to rhapsodize about fond memories of the sworn enemies across the way, you get the answer you deserve. If you’re a Nats fan, then this is exactly the kind of answer you want from your warrior-poet right-hander. 

Besides, if the Cardinals wanted Scherzer to say nice things about them, then they should’ve signed him back in the winter of 2014-15, when they had the chance. Speaking of which, here’s what Bob Nightengale of USA Today told ESPN 101’s Bernie Miklasz about Scherzer last year

“He still has a chip on his shoulder for teams that didn’t bother to try and sign him, and the team is St. Louis. He wanted to come to the Cardinals desperately, and they never made a play for him.”

Given how dominating Scherzer has been for the Nationals since 2015 — 34.9 WAR, an ERA of 2.74 over more than 1,000 innings, and a pair of Cy Young awards — the Cardinals of course number among the teams who should’ve been willing to pay his freight back then. But they didn’t, and now Scherzer may be the one who does the heavy lifting in their playoff exit. Or maybe they’ll stick in to the hometown kid once again. Either way, Scherzer isn’t much interested in talking about it — quite understandably. 

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