Pete Alonso, for reasons more than his triumph in the Home Run Derby, is now the King Of New York Baseball. Moreover, he’s saved the Mets…
Pete Alonso is now the King Of New York Baseball. Wearing the uniform of the New York Mets, he not only stole the show at the annual MLB Home Run Derby as champion but he also won the respect of all viewers for his charisma and stature as a person during the spectacle.
Escaping, if only for a brief moment, from the debacle of the Mets team and season, Pete Alonso played for Pete Alonso. But make no mistake, this was as much about the restoration of respectability for the Mets franchise as it was about the million dollars Alonso collected for his individual efforts.
Move over Aaron Judge. Move over Giancarlo Stanton. There is a new baseball hero claiming your territory in the Big City. He’s been tagged the Polar Bear by Todd Frazier and he is a New York Met.
To be sure, there were laser shots off his bat and high soaring majestic fly balls too, but it was those compelling shots by ESPN of Alonso in the tunnel sitting on what appeared to be an upside-down bucket, collecting his thoughts, alone in the heat of the night, that drew the most vivid picture of who Pete Alonso is – as a person – and a professional ballplayer.
Together with the MLB Pre-Game show and ESPN later, they couldn’t get enough of Pete Alonso. Immediately, the anchors and producers recognized what we have known for four months now. Which is that there’s more to the Polar Bear than just the ability to hit a baseball.
Fielding questions ranging far and wide, Pete Alonso answered with humility and humor, interspersed with a few personal tales about his upbringing and personal history. They couldn’t get enough of him.
Which, in a way, is sad. That’s because there was another star of equal stature on the scene in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who gave Pete Alonso all he could handle in the finals. Guerrero’s inability to understand or speak English fluently, or even at all, hindered the exposure of his charismatic personality to America. Pedro Martinez, to his credit, tried to make up the difference by translating and adding his accolades, but it was not the same.
But the night belonged to Pete Alonso. And as I hinted at before, the night also belonged to the beleaguered franchise of the New York Mets. Fans who follow the team know the litany of a dysfunctional franchise that follows the team. It bears no repeating here.
Instead, this about the New York Mets being the proud owner of a new face for the team and organization. David Wright, wrecked by injury, seems like a vague memory of his heyday years with the Mets. For all that he accomplished, Wright hit 30 home runs or more only twice in his career with the Mets. Alonso already has 30 in the first half of his first year as a Met.
It’s a game of power in baseball today. Pete Alonso, along with his brethren of young stars, displayed that power last night. Every one of the Home Run Derby participants said it was about putting on a show for the fans. And that, they did. In case you missed it or want to see it again…
Pete Alonso’s effusive approach to baseball will rub off on all who come in contact with him. When he walks into the Mets clubhouse on Thursday to begin play in the second half, heads will turn and he will be mobbed by teammates offering congratulations.
Kiddingly, perhaps one of them will suggest he purchase a new 80- inch television for the clubhouse with his new-found money. A few might ask for an autographed ball – “for their nephew”. But in every way they can, each of his teammates will want to share in the limelight, and more significantly, the winning spirit that has descended on Pete Alonso.
They’ll pound Jeff McNeil and Jacob deGrom, who were present as All-Stars themselves, for stories and tales, and the “inside story” about the magical night they too will never forget.
Rest assured, Pete Alonso represents a turning point for the Mets organization – if they don’t screw this up too. There’s a reason why I just purchased a seat right next to the Mets dugout for their game against the Padres on July 25. I wanna see Polar Bear up close and in person. Mets fans will follow suit.
My wish list for the Mets in the second half of the season included a section on Pete Alonso. But I had no idea it would come to this. Here’s a sample of the many interviews Alonso conducted yesterday…note the poise, along with the conviction of this rising Mets star…