The picture you see above may very well be the moment in which Pete Alonso began his journey to being the future face of Major League baseball.
Monday Nights home run derby was a special night for the MLB and its fans. From start to finish there was instant action and for the most part great storylines with some great homerun hitting stars. There was an energy about Monday's home run derby that had not been seen for the event in years. But through all the moments this homerun derby offered us crazed baseball fans, there is no denying that Pete Alonso won the night. What you saw Monday was a player with as much passion, heart, and determination for the game of baseball as any other player to ever play the game. You saw a player just scratching the surface in what has already been a historic rookie season but more importantly, you saw a player that also knows this is much more than just a game. Combine all those factors and you see why I believe Pete Alonso will soon be the face Major League Baseball has been waiting for.
Before I start boasting about my guy Pete Alonso I have to address some things about the night. First of all, Vladimir Guerrero Jr is an absolute stud. The kid, probably most famous for being the son of hall of famer Vladimir Guerrero SR. made a name for himself Monday night hitting 94 home runs in 3 rounds. He broke homerun derby record after record but was unable to finish the deal. Even though Vlad lost the final to Alonso there was no taken away what he did, it was magical, and that semi-final matchup with Joc Pederson that needed 3 tie-breaking rounds including two swing offs... yeah we might never see that again.
So now that I have covered my bases with giving credit where credit is due to the other players that had great nights Monday, let me get back to Alonso. Being a Mets fan is not easy, and I'm sure being a Mets player is not easier. This all-star week there was absolutely no doubt that the Mets players representing the team were overlooked. (Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Jacob deGrom) I mean there is no need for explanation on why they were overlooked and it is because they were New York orange and blue and not New York pinstripes. I mean both Alonso and McNeil should have been starters. How do you have the NL leader in homeruns at first base and the MLB LEADING HITTER not starting in a game that is meant for the best players in the first half of the season? It is ridiculous and I get the Mets organization is a joke but there are players on that team that are not. That is what makes what Pete Alonso did Monday in the home run derby so special. Going into the night there were a lot of people that believed Alonso had a real good chance of winning it, but as the night got closer there was a lot of hype being brought to players that, one, shouldn't even have been in the competition and 2 players who were having far less success in the first half as Alonso has had. So when Alonso stepped out there, I was all in for him to win to just prove to the nation that yes, the Mets suck, but they have some serious gamers on this team that deserve just a little more respect.
In the first round, Alonso had to face hometown Cleveland Indian Carlos Santana (the all-star game was in Cleveland). Of course, they pair the Mets rookie to face the hometown guy in the first round. The whole time Alonso was up, every-time he hit a homerun there was boos. He had to send the hometown guy home in the first round and he did. Alonso, in that first round, overcame terrible pitching and squeaked by Santana. In the second round, with more bad pitching he walked off against division rival and Braves young superstar Ronald Acuna. That left Alonso with a finals matchup against the kid that supposedly "won the night" in Vlad Guerrero. Yes, Guerrero hit 30 more home runs than Alonso in the whole competition, however, it was a game of matchups and when Alonso faced Guerrero he won, and when he won you could see how much it meant to him(picture above). However, what was also very important during this whole home run derby was how Alonso handled himself and that is a big reason why I think he is exactly what the MLB has been waiting for.
Alonso seems to have the perfect mesh of media presence, humbleness, and raw talent. All of that was on display Monday night. I mean his pre-derby interviews and his body language during the event coupled with his post-derby interview made him a fan favorite for all of MLB baseball fans. While other players during their timeouts ignored those little Gatorade boys to link up with their teammates to talk and boast about what was going on, Alonso made sure to give them a pat on the back and acknowledge them. You might not think that is a big deal but think about the impression Alonso left on that little kid. There were countless times Acuna, Guerrero, Santana, etc. ignored those kids to get all worked up about what they were doing, Alonso did not ignore them once. Even in the final when Jeff McNeil walked over Alonso made sure he reached around him to the Gatorade boy to tell him he is good. Alonso also stayed humble during the event, there was no running around saying "I got this I got this" Like Guerrero said in the final. Alonso stayed quiet, performed and won. Simple. He showed his passion after his job was done. On top of that, he also donated 10% of his 1 million dollar winnings to two charities. He made it known before during and after the event that he was going to do so. During his post-interview, he thanked the men and women who served the country along with acknowledging how grateful he is to play the game he loves. Alonso's words, "A bad day for me is a whole lot better than a bad day for many people." I mean how can you not be a fan of the kid. Now listen, I understand he is only 1 half into his rookie season, a lot can change, a lot will probably change. But in all honesty, this kid is having a very Aaron Judge type impact on the field with a Mike Trout impact off in his early rookie season, he has all the makings of being a star, not only for the Mets but for all of baseball. He is a ballplayer the MLB can run with, in their biggest market, they can make Alonso a model ballplayer that young kids can and should emulate. As a Mets fan, I have been seeing this from Alonso since March 27th, but now all of America has seen the type of player and human he is and trust me he has all the makings to be the face of Major League Baseball.