Five topics from columnist Ben Frederickson that St. Louis sports fans should be discussing:
1. Hide your loved ones — here comes Mad Max
The Cardinals should have signed Max Scherzer.
They know it. Scherzer knows it. And pretty much every time Mad Max gets a chance to pitch in his hometown, he makes sure we all remember it.
The Parkway Central and Mizzou product is a three-time Cy Young Award winner who has been an All-Star seven consecutive seasons.
His 12-season career has produced a 3.18 ERA and 2,671 strikeouts in 2,277.1 innings pitched.
Against the hometown team that passed on a chance to sign him, he's a special level of elite.
In his eight starts against the Cardinals since he signed his seven-year, $210 million contract with the Nationals, Scherzer has a 2.67 ERA and an opponent batting line of .209/.256/.284. He has 70 strikeouts to 42 hits and 11 walks allowed. He's pitched six or seven innings every time.
Somehow, the Cardinals have won four of these eight games.
Somehow, Scherzer has been even better against the Cardinals when the games are played in St. Louis.
Check out his last three starts at Busch Stadium . . .
September 2, 2015: 6 innings, 11 hits, 2 runs, 1 home run, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts in a 4-3 Nationals win.
May 1, 2016: 7 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 0 home runs, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts in a 6-1 Nationals win.
July 2, 2017: 7 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 home runs, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts in a 7-2 Nationals win.
That's a 0.90 ERA in 20 innings pitched. That's 14 more strikeouts than hits allowed. Cardinals hitters are slashing .221/.241/.273 against Scherzer in these three games. He's on the mound Wednesday, facing off against Cards starter Adam Wainwright. You better believe both will be fired up.
And yes, I know Scherzer has been dealing with some back and shoulder issues. He has alternated between looking like himself and looking human since he returned from the injured list on Aug. 22.
“There's no excuses in this league,” Scherzer told MLB.com after his last start. “You've got to post and you've got to go out there with everything you've got, and you've got to execute. Everything is on the line every time you take the mound. It's Major League Baseball.”
Batten down the hatches.
Mad Max is coming home again.
2. TLR says he's not done yet
We were not the only ones wondering what the firing of Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski might mean for his vice president and special assistant, former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
Here's what the Hall of Fame manager told Fox2 sports director Martin Kilcoyne in their latest "Tony Talk" podcast.
"I don't want to retire," La Russa said. "I love the game. I think there is a lot to be offered to the game in a lot of different capacities, whether you are a scout, player development, or someone like myself, with some experience. So, as long as somebody feels like the experience can be helpful, I want to be a part of it."
You can listen to the full interview, including La Russa's thoughts on Chris Duncan, right here. Where La Russa will be working after this season sounds TBD. Could be in Boston. Could be somewhere new. But he's still planning on having some sort of job in the game. That's good for the game.
3. Tarasenko feared a trade
It turns out that a fun story about Vladimir Tarasenko stiff-arming the Stanley Cup curse had a more serious undertone.
While discussing with Joan Niesen of Sports Illustrated how his newborn son was photographed in the Cup before the Blues secured it with their Game 7 win in Boston, Tarasenko shared a bit more about the stress he played under before the Blues made their worst-to-first championship run. Do you remember that chatter about Tarasenko potentially being traded if the Blues did not find traction after the switch from coach Mike Yeo to Craig Berube? It weighed hard on No. 91.
“I (felt) like I make my family (be) in a bad spot, because she's pregnant, we have a school, we have kids, and if they trade me ... it's a tough time,” Tarasenko said in Niesen's piece. “I never usually say that something was bothering me, but that time was not good."
Things worked out, and this weekend Tarasenko dropped another money quote.
"One (championship) is not enough," he said to us at Blues training camp.
If this is not on a shirt by the time the season starts, the Blues are missing a chance to make some money.
It would be the biggest marketing whiff since the Cardinals have ignored my suggestion for the Marcell Ozuna oven mitt giveaway.
4. QB curse in the SEC East
SEC East teams have played a grand total of 20 football games this season. So, they are averaging a season-ending injury for a starting quarterback every 6.7 games.
The brutal trend continued Saturday, when Florida's Feleipe Franks went down with a dislocated and fractured ankle in the Gators' win against Kentucky. UK was playing that game without its starter, Terry Wilson, because he hurt his left knee in the Wildcats' week-two win against Eastern Michigan. South Carolina can relate. The Gamecocks lost veteran starter Jake Bentley to a broken foot in the season opener.
Of all the backups who just became starters, South Carolina seems to have the best. Freshman Ryan Hilinski has completed 69 percent of his passes and posted a QB rating of 138.1 through two games, one of which was against a feared Alabama defense. He was just named SEC freshman of the week after he completed 35 of 57 passes for 324 yards with two TDs and one interception in the 47-23 loss to the Crimson Tide. I would not expect the young man to be too nervous entering the first road start of his college career this weekend in CoMo.
5. Blues tease Cup names
If you refused to believe the Blues won the Stanley Cup until you saw their names engraved into it, you're in luck.