Pete Alonso just reminded us of what he can do in the spotlight

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Pete Alonso HR Derby treated art
Pete Alonso HR Derby treated art

Pete Alonso roared after bashing long dingers, bopped during timeouts, and exhorted the crowd at Coors Field. The Mets’ slugger adores the Home Run Derby, he’s really good at it, and he devoured the moment Monday night -- so much so that they ought to make him the official face of the event.

Alonso, the No. 5 seed, defended his Derby crown by beating Salvador Perez, Juan Soto and, in the final round, the inspirational Trey Mancini. Alonso, who also won in 2019 (there was no Derby last year because of the pandemic), seemed to have more fun than anyone on baseball’s big hit-and-giggle night and showed more power than anyone, too. Even the amazing Shohei Ohtani.

The Derby was a gas in Denver’s thin air and Alonso became the third back-to-back champ and only the fourth player to win it twice. One of his monster shots traveled 514 feet, one of the longest blasts on a night when sluggers could flex with eye-popping distance numbers.

Alonso soared on this big stage and it was compelling to watch. His amazing thump -- he did hit 53 home runs two years ago -- is the kind of stuff that can kickstart fantasies. If Alonso is this good in a midseason showcase where he draws eyeballs from all over the baseball world, including his brawny peers, what could he accomplish in the sport's real jewel?

We’re talking, of course, about the MLB playoffs. Time to dream, Mets fans.

With all that’s gone on and where the Mets are right now, perhaps we’re looking at a special season in Queens. Despite myriad injuries, the Mets sit in first place in the National League East at the All-Star break, 3.5 games ahead of the second-place Phillies.

The Mets are both good and plucky and should get even more injured players back. Their manager, Luis Rojas, is bright. Finally, they can play defense. The rest of the division is meh. Who knows what could happen? Maybe Alonso’s Derby win becomes just a nifty sidebar in something collectively more meaningful for the Mets.

True, the Mets have won nothing yet. And they still have flaws. But it’s fun to wonder about games at Citi Field in October’s chill and power plays in the Postseason.

Can you imagine Alonso firing up a Queens crowd then? Or the hilarity level and amazing sloganeering he’d perform in interviews? After all, this is the man who invented #LFGM and injected the unforgettable “The boys are hot” into the Mets lexicon.

Jul 12, 2021; Denver, CO, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso hits during the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby.
Jul 12, 2021; Denver, CO, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso hits during the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby.

He’s embraced New York and talked Monday night about how glad he was to bring back the Home Run Derby trophy to Citi Field. He adores wearing the big HRD pendant and certainly earned it. Alonso opened by hitting 35 homers, a record for the first round, and at one point had a streak of nine straight swings for home runs. He pounded his chest after the round was done.

“For me, I’m a power hitter and I think I’m the best power hitter on the planet,” Alonso said afterward.

Side note: Props to Dave Jauss, the Mets’ bench coach, who threw precise batting practice to Alonso. He might have had one of the finest nights of BP pitching ever. Are there assists in baseball?

But the big takeaway was the way Alonso seized the Derby spotlight again. It was a terrific night, full of swag, and watching him crave the moment and flourish sure made it easy to wonder what he could do in even bigger circumstances.

Sure hope we get to find out.