Link: Max Scherzer and His Brother

Here at FanGraphs, we don’t do a lot of posts where the point is simply to direct you to another article elsewhere on the web. However, that’s exactly what this post is going to do.

Alex Scherzer was one of us. He loved baseball, he got a degree in economics, and he tried to use advanced metrics to help his brother become the best pitcher he could possibly be. On June 21 of last year, Alex Scherzer took his own life.

FanGraphs senior editor Robert Sanchez wrote about it for ESPN The Magazine. They also published it on ESPN.com over the weekend. It’s worth reading. Don’t miss this one.

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 [s---] 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.

Read the entire story on ESPN.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


23 Responses to “Link: Max Scherzer and His Brother”

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  1. snoop LION says:

    :(

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  2. Benzedrine says:

    Read this yesterday, arguably the most emotional sports article I have read since the Greg Halman piece.

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  3. Heather says:

    My spouse had to deal with the suicide of a close family member–in fact, he was the one who had to tell his father.

    It has affected him to this day. Suicide victims often think their families won’t care or will be better off without them, when that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

    Such a tragedy for anyone whose family is touched by suicide.

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  4. Ryan says:

    Great story. For whatever reason, Scherzer’s family history hasn’t gotten hardly any attention (until now).

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    • maguro says:

      Well, it’s kind of a bummer. Not really the type of thing that announcers feel comfortable chatting about during the game.

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  5. Jim says:

    Why would Max want to talk about it publicly? I say leave him and the story alone.

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    • johnorpheus says:

      Strongly disagree with this. Max and his family were obviously part of the story and supported it’s publication. We need to talk about the effects and causes of suicide, and this is an important article.

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    • Ryan says:

      Why would Jim want to second-guess Max and his family’s decision? They were obviously very open and wanted to share Alex’s story. Good for them, I hope it helps them with their grief, and maybe it could help others as well.

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    • Max and his family would talk about it publicly because thousands of people commit suicide in this country every year and if there is anything you can do to keep any one of those people alive, you must do it.

      Many suicides simply don’t know the effect their choice has on those around them; many suicides aren’t being insensitive so much as convinced nobody will mind. It is vitally important that there be someone in these people’s lives who can say, “you WILL be missed. You WILL be needed. You ARE purposeful.” Even if it’s someone in a magazine article.

      I can relate to both sides of the story. In the past, in a dead-end career which I’ve since left, I had thoughts like Alex’s; I’ve also had two of my best friends (siblings) lose their father to suicide when he thought that he was a financial liability to the family. When you see what suicide actually does, and how many victims it really has, you take the option off the table for yourself.

      In other words, the reason the Scherzer family helped write this article is, somewhere out there, somebody will read it and choose to live.

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  6. Metsox says:

    It was a very good piece….

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  7. Matt Hunter says:

    Absolutely incredible piece. Don’t think it’s possible to read this without getting emotional.

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  8. tylersnotes says:

    thanks for posting this link, Dave. This article is the type of journalism that elevates well above the level of ‘sports writing’ and deserves a lot of attention. I’d love if FanGraphs started more regularly pointing to articles around the web that may not relate directly to the FG mission, but are nonetheless worth pointing out. Not sure I’ll read anything in a long while as powerful as this piece was, but I always appreciate knowing what authors I trust are reading around the web.

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  9. Greg says:

    That was tough to read. Suicide is often a brutal thing for the family/friends of the person who did it.

    Great piece though, thanks for sharing.

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  10. Danny Knobgobbler says:

    That’ll teach me to overlook the author’s name. I read it yesterday and thought it was great, but little did I know about the link to FG. Bravo, Robert Sanchez. The Davids should be proud.

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  11. Jeremy Blachman says:

    Great piece, Robert.

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  12. Ruki Motomiya says:

    Excellent piece.

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  13. kyle says:

    Thanks for sharing this Dave. Best article by far I’ve read on ESPN. Heck, could be the best I’ve ever read period. I’ll be rooting a lot harder for Max when I watch him out there every 5th day.

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  14. Jim says:

    Oops, I didn’t read the original article. I didn’t know that the family were participants in the story. If the story meant something to people that is great! My knee-jerk reaction is for the press to stay out of people’s person lives but this is an exception.

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  15. Robert Sanchez says:

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my story. I appreciate it.

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