Chris "Mad Dog" Russo Photo credit: First Take

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo still has his moments.

Russo often finds himself out of touch when it comes to certain topics, and it takes people like Stephen A. Smith, J.J. Redick, or even Joey Votto, to reign him back in. But sometimes you have to let Mad Dog be Mad Dog, and when he has his fastball going, he doesn’t miss.

During Wednesday’s edition of First Take, the native New Yorker made sure he peppered in a few thoughts about Max Scherzer. The day after Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, Russo addressed Scherzer’s less-than-stellar tenure with the Mets. The future Hall of Famer was traded on Monday to the Texas Rangers, putting an end to his time with a team that signed him to a contract with the largest average annual value of any MLB player at $43.3 million.

“I thought he lived up to his contract with [the] Washington [Nationals], let’s get that on the board,” Russo began. “But if there is anybody who represents Mets disappointment in the last year-and-a-half more than Max Scherzer, I haven’t seen ‘em.”

Scherzer pitched to an 11-5 record with a 2.29 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 0.91 WHIP, and 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 145.1 innings pitched (23 starts) in his first season with the Mets. But when the lights were the brightest, he was a no-show.

The Mets held a 10 ½ game cushion on June 1 but entering the second-to-last series of the season against the Braves, their lead in the National League East was just at one game. After dropping the first game of the series to Atlanta, the Mets needed their highest-paid player to shove. Instead, Scherzer gave up four runs on nine hits in 5 ⅔ innings of work. He was handed a 2-1 lead but surrendered two home runs, and that was the difference.

New York still made the playoffs, and Scherzer was handed the ball for Game 1 of the team’s Wild Card series against the San Diego Padres. Big mistake. Scherzer was mercilessly pounded by the Padres, allowing seven runs on seven hits in 4 ⅔ innings of work. He allowed four home runs in the process. The Mets would go on to lose the series in three games.

“Last year, he killed them at the end of the year. He lost the game to Atlanta, which would’ve won the division,” Russo said. “And then, he got booed off the mound against San Diego so badly. I’ve been here for 45 years. I’ve never seen an athlete booed off a mound, court or field, more unmercifully than the Met fan did with Scherzer last season in the postseason against the Padres. He gave up a million home runs in the Wild Card round.”

He never recovered from those two beatings. Prior to being traded to the Rangers, Scherzer pitched to a 9-4 record with a 4.01 ERA, 4.72 FIP, 1.189 WHIP, and 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 107.2 innings pitched (19 starts). Scherzer allowed 23 home runs through July after allowing all of 13 just a season before.

“And then this year, he gets nabbed with sticky stuff,” Russo continued. “He got a 10-game suspension. He’s been nicked up and hurt and he’s been woeful. He’s given up 23 home runs in 100 innings. And so now, we’re gonna have Max Scherzer ask for a meeting with the front office to see what the direction of the team is when the man’s making $43 million a year?”

This is about the time when Russo started to get blue in the face and went over the edge.

“How ‘bout you pitch a little better and then maybe they won’t be in this situation where they gotta sell everybody off?” Russo suggested, as his veins began to bulge. “And Scherzer’s a mercenary. Washington, [Los Angeles] Dodgers, and he didn’t answer the bell for the Dodgers two years ago in the playoffs. He didn’t pitch in Game 6 in Atlanta—three days rest—he didn’t want to hurt himself, so they had to use [Walker] Buehler in that situation, and…he got a torn rotator cuff, which drove me crazy.”

You don’t say?

“Here’s what you do, OK? When you’re in a situation where you’re gonna say, ‘Let me talk to the brass, to see where we are as a team,’ when you get paid $43 million, you better be Sandy Kofaux. That’s who you better be! Look at him on the wall over there! That drove a Met fan crazy. The Met fan didn’t like [Justin] Verlander going, they could care less about Max Scherzer.

Stephen A. Smith had two words for Russo’s fiery rant: “No disagreement.”


Russo may have had a couple of veins popping out of his forehead, but he isn’t wrong about Scherzer.

[Tre Iindor on Twitter]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.