Journeyman relief pitcher Shawn Kelley has an uproarious story about Dusty Baker and Max Scherzer.
Kelley, who overlapped with the venerable manager and star starting pitcher on the Washington Nationals, spoke to The Athletic for a story on Scherzer.
He first explained that Baker was prone to what players refer to as “Dusty-isms” — which could be rants or pep talks — and recalled one of them.
“You young guys with your hats up and your eyes all big, I’d be in the on deck circle just licking my chops because I knew you’re scared. Now, some of you motherf–kers that come in with your hats down low and throwing your warmup pitches like you just don’t give a f–k, now that’s scary.” Kelley remembered Baker telling a group of players. “You know what else would scare me as a hitter? If that motherf–king pitcher didn’t take all his warmup pitches.”
Playing on that Dusty-ism, Scherzer got Kelley to deploy that so-called scare tactic in a game. Scherzer was able to have this influence in part because Kelley, who makes significantly less money than he does, owed him a chunk of change for a string of bad NBA playoffs bets.
“I’ll tell you what, I’ll erase $1,000 of your debt if you go out there and you just throw one warmup pitch and just say, ‘F–k it, I’m ready to go,’” Scherzer apparently told Kelley.
It was a deal.
“I took a bunch of extra warmup pitches in the bullpen and I went out there and threw one warmup pitch and said, ‘Hey, I’m ready.’ The ump was like, ‘What?’ And I’m like, ‘No, I’m ready, let’s go,’ Kelley recalled.
“It didn’t go real well, but I did get some of my money back. Of course, I look in the dugout and Max is just grinning ear to ear.”