An Ellicott City-based boxed water company is encouraging baseball fans to snarl, growl, grimace and strut, all for the chance to win a meet-and-greet with Max Scherzer. Fans interested in participating in Rethink Water's "Strikeout Plastic" sweepstakes are invited to share videos of their best "Mad Max" pre-pitch impressions of the Nationals' ace on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram through Oct. 31.
Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, who has had more success than most hitters against Scherzer over the years, could probably do a decent "Mad Max" impression.
"Here's the main thing you need to know about Max Scherzer," Yelich wrote in a first-person piece for The Players' Tribune in April about the five toughest pitchers in National League East. "You have to get to that guy before he starts strutting around out there on the mound. When he gets on a roll, he'll get the ball back from the catcher and start taking these long walks around the mound. If you see that, it's too late. You messed up."
Where there's Scherzer strutting, there's often snarling and growling. Scherzer, who regularly talks to himself on the mound, was especially animated during his start against the Dodgers in June.
"I'm saying a lot of things to help motivate myself," Scherzer explained to MASN's Sara Perlman last month. "They're not very friendly or PG, but it's interesting."
Take note: The official rules for the sweepstakes, which include the social accounts to tag and hashtags to use when submitting entries, prohibit "obscene, provocative, defamatory, sexually explicit, or otherwise objectionable or inappropriate content."
Last month, Scherzer donned a jersey and cap featuring the Rethink Water logos for an hour-long photo shoot in McLean. He threw a few pitches off the mound and posed in the dugout with Rethink's 70 percent paperboard containers, but he wasn't asked to swing a bat, despite having recently hit his first career home run at Marlins Park.
"I saw the T-shirts that were made," Scherzer said of the "Hit Like a Pitcher" shirts that were available hours after he suggested he would make his own apparel to commemorate his homer. "That was more of a joke, but the fact that somebody did make a T-shirt was pretty cool. I want to be known for what I do on the mound, not in the box, but I have the bat. I'm not getting rid of that. We're in the process of moving into a new house. There's going to be a room in the basement, and we're going to put things from big moments in my career there. I've had some pretty cool moments, but I'm still searching for that ultimate one, celebrating at the end of the year in October."
If the Nationals are celebrating at the end of the year, Scherzer figures to be a big reason. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner is 16-6 with a 2.55 ERA and a league-leading 263 strikeouts, putting him in the mix for his third Cy Young Award. Scherzer has a 3.74 ERA in 14 career postseason appearances; his only start in the World Series came in 2012 with the Detroit Tigers.
Scherzer said he first tried Rethink Water last season and noticed that it felt lighter in his stomach than other brands of water he has used to stay hydrated during games. He now receives regular deliveries of the product at Nationals Park.
"It's going to allow me to perform my best," Scherzer said. "I'll have that bounce in my step. As an athlete, you always crave that feeling of being light on your feet. Believe it or not, the water you drink can affect that."
Containers of Rethink Water were at every table for this month's "Scherzer Showdown," a fantasy football draft event and fundraiser to benefit the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.
"Fantasy football keeps things light in September," Scherzer said. "BP, usually that's when all the trades are going down."
Scherzer added that he was partial to "Blue Eye" for his fantasy football team name; that's the same name he submitted for MLB's players' weekend last month.
"Love the blue eye," he said. "That's the good-looking one. That's the one that everyone seems to gravitate toward. I have fun with it."