We’re several months into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling, and remarkable events, as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.
On another note, we at The Turf have always been of the mind that standing up for what is right and standing up in opposition to hate and violence is necessary. In that same breath, we affirm that Black Lives Matter. To donate to this fight, or for resources on how to help the fight against systemic racism in the United States here is a small portion of the many organizations and groups to consider: Black Visions Collective, LGBTQ Freedom Fund, The Okra Project, Reclaim the Block, Color of Change, Shed Light | Spread Light, and Black Lives Matter.
Today: Pete “Polar Bear” Alonso’s Triple-A debut, playing on the right side of the infield with Jeff “The Squirrel” McNeil.
The 7 Line heading out to Citi Field is a rough experience on game days. As what feels like half of Manhattan crams into each petri dish of a subway car, the Orange and Blue masses are hidden. As the silver sardine can thunders its way through Queens, slowly those colors begin to appear. And by the time the conductor announced “Mets/Willets-Point,” your train looks like Section 117.
The ride back is the opposite. Those colors, so vibrant in the early evening sun now seem faded. The faces of fans sunken after another night of Mets baseball.
The Mets are a big joke to the rest of the MLB, and we know that. When A-Rod, J-Lo and Dave Portnoy become attached to a group attempting to purchase the team, the rest of the league rolls their eyes. But for us Met fans, we’re praying someone to save us from the hell that is the Wilpons.
And in 2019, our prayers for salvation from the same old LOLMEts was answered.
With the retirement of David Wright, and the uncertain return of slugger Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets needed a hero at the plate. After trading for Robinson Cano, it seemed like they were going out to get that veteran leadership. The Mets were searching for someone to take the wheel relinquished by the Wright.
On the mound, we had a leader in deGrom, the last Met to win the Rookie of the Year Award, and the 2018-19 Cy Young winner. But there was always a tinge of guilt watching him get next to nothing in support from his teammates. There was apathy that emanated from the 2018 Mets in his starts. Each one a palpable shrug you could feel from the stands.
We needed a hero, and we needed one with a loud, powerful bat. That’s where Pete came in.
Pete Alonso might just be the perfect Met. He’s equal parts Wilmer Flores‘ Child-like enthusiasm, Yoenis Cespedes‘ power and David Wright‘s New York pride. Over the course of a year, Pete Alonso became the heartbeat of Queens baseball. He became our hero.
Much of my Mets fandom has been spent getting razzed by Yankees fans. It’s pretty much an all day, everyday activity. The battle for New York City has seemed one-sided since Aaron Judge burst onto the scene in 2017.
But now, the 2019 Rookie of the Year plays for the New York Mets, and that’s something we all can be proud of.
On the other side of the coin is Jeff McNeil. Originally a 12th-round pick in 2013, McNeil was catastrophically overlooked during his time in the Mets system. While injuries held him to only 51 games over the 2016 and 2017 seasons. With the Mets taking looks at other prospects like Phillip Evans, Luis Guillorme, and Gavin Cecchini over McNeil, 2018 would have to be his time to shine. Seriously, go back and look through the Mets Top-30 prospect lists from the last few years. You will not find Jeff McNeil.
Boy was it.
McNeil burst onto the scene in late 2018, and continued to impress in 2019. When he hit over .300 in 2018, it was sloughed off as a fluke, beginner’s luck. However, as the 2019 All-Star Break neared and McNeil’s average was dance around the .350 mark, the rest of the league had to take notice.
The Mets have an exciting new tandem of young talent in McNeil and Alonso and that’s something to rejoice. Not since Wright and Reyes have Mets fans seen something so promising, or a future so bright.
And this game right here, was one of the many steps that got them there. What a time to be a Mets fan.
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