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Carroll’s Column: Struggles Continue for Alonso and Mets

Pete Alonso - Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

NEW YORK — Take a look at these numbers for the 2023 New York Mets: 46 wins and 53 losses with a -17 run differential. And in their last 10 games played? New York is 4-6. As it stands today, July 24th, the Mets are on the outside looking in — 7.5 games back from the final National League Wild Card spot.

There are many reasons why the Mets have been a huge disappointment this year. Starting pitchers have had trouble getting to the sixth inning; the middle inning relief corps has been a FEMA disaster area; and there has been the usual number of injuries which has hampered the offense. Perhaps trumping all of those, has been first baseman Pete Alonso’s miserable 2023 season.

Although it now seems like ancient history, Alonso was having an MVP-like season for the first two months of the 2023 campaign. Things went south for him on June 7th, when he was struck on the wrist by a fastball thrown by Atlanta Braves hurler Charlie Morton. Fortunately, nothing was broken which avoided the need for any surgical procedures. The consensus was Alonso would miss a few weeks so bruises could properly heal.

Pete Alonso – Image Credit: Emma Sharon/Latino Sports

Alonso returned to action as soon as his initial 10-day stint on the injured list ended. While his heart was in the right place about wanting to help his team, which is offensively challenged without him in the lineup, it now seems like a mistake. 

Pete Alonso has not been the same player since getting plunked by Charlie Morton. His home runs have been infrequent while his strikeouts have skyrocketed. Even worse, his batting average has plummeted to around the .200 mark. Pete Alonso has morphed into a modern-day Dave Kingman and is currently a poor man’s version of him. 

No one will ever confuse Pete Alonso with Keith Hernandez when it comes to first base fielding prowess, but he has worked hard at his defensive skills over the years. He was now considered one of the best fielding first basemen in the majors. Whether his poor hitting is affecting his fielding, or his wrist is still bothering him, and likely it is a combination of both factors, Alonso has regressed in the field. He has been making frequent costly errors which have resulted in runs for the opposing team. 

Pete Alonso – Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Mets fans would normally be overjoyed whenever Pete Alonso was named to the National League All-Star team. The reaction from the Flushing faithful was far more muted this year. The understandable conventional wisdom was Alonso would benefit from five days of needed rest instead of trekking up to Seattle for the All-Star Game. In keeping with the way things have gone for him recently, he struck out twice. The first time was in the seventh inning when the NL had two runners on base and was trailing the American League, 2-1. 

It is hard to blame Alonso for taking part in the 2023 All-Star Game. It is one of the highest honors a player can receive. From a business perspective, he is slated to become a free agent after the 2024 season.

Pete Alonso – Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

All-Star Game appearances help drive lucrative long-term contracts from baseball teams. 

My guess is the main reason Pete Alonso was named to the 2023 National League All-Star team is because Major League Baseball wanted him to participate in the Home Run Derby. Alonso has won the event twice. He also won the NL LatinoMVP Rookie award in 2019.

Alonso drew a tough opponent in his opening round in Seattle Mariners slugger Julio Rodríguez (2022 AL LatinoMVP Rookie of the Year). Beating him anywhere would be quite difficult but taking him on in his home ballpark made it impossible.

Julio Rodríguez in 2023 T-Mobile Home Run Derby – Image Credit: MLB Network/Twitter

Rodríguez (Loma de Cabrera, Dominican Republic) slugged 41 homers in the contest while Alonso could only muster 21 long flies. 

Last Wednesday, before the Mets game with the Chicago White Sox, I spoke with the team’s batting practice pitcher, Aaron Myers, who also had the responsibility of serving up meatballs to Alonso in the derby. Myers knew the odds were against them. “We felt like we were in ‘Rocky IV’ when Rocky Balboa had to fight Ivan Drago in Moscow,” he laughed. 

Pete Alonso in 2023 T-Mobile Home Run Derby – Image Credit: MLB/Twitter

Myers was aware of the criticism from Mets fans for not pitching fast enough and not giving him easy lobs to whack. I asked him if the fact that most Mets players do not take outdoor batting practice since it is, for some unknown reason, no longer an obligatory part of pregame preparation, may have adversely affected things. “Only small groups of players take BP these days. Having more chances to throw to Pete would have helped,” he concurred.

Daryl Boston returns to Queens in White Sox-Mets at Citi Field

The White Sox series was a chance for that team’s first base coach, Daryl Boston, to return to Queens. Boston was a centerfielder for the Mets in the early 1990s. “I was on the worst team money could buy,” he said with a chuckle referring to the book by Bob Klapisch and John Harper about the 1992 Mets. He added he was impressed with Citi Field but will always have a soft spot for Shea Stadium. 

White Sox-Mets at Citi Field – Image Credit: Latino Sports

Another Homecoming in Queens: Eddie Rodriguez 

It was a homecoming of sorts for another White Sox coach, Eddie Rodriguez. In 2001, the Toronto Blue Jays had a NY-Penn League team, the Queens Kings, who played their home games on the St. John’s University campus. Rodriguez was the manager of that team. The following year, the team moved to Coney Island and changed its name to the Brooklyn Cyclones. It also became a Mets affiliate. “I very much enjoyed my year in Queens,” he told me. He was also surprised I remembered the Queens Kings.

Tribute to Ed Bressoud

Ed Bressoud was the Mets shortstop in 1966. He knew he was a placeholder for Bud Harrelson who was promoted from the minor leagues later that year. Bressoud belted 10 home runs for the Mets that year. That was the most homers by a Mets shortstop until José Reyes belted 19 home runs in 2006. It should be noted Kevin Elster also hit 10 homers in 1989. Bressoud, along with Willie Mays, were the only former New York Giants to play for the Mets. Ed Bressoud passed away at his California home on July 11. He was 91.

St. John’s Red Storm Men’s Basketball Lands Chris Ledlum

The St. John’s University Red Storm men’s basketball team picked up a top player when they landed recent Harvard University alum and Brooklyn native, Chris Ledlum, to play for them. Ledlum, a forward who averaged over 18 points a game, was arguably the best Ivy League hoops player last year.

He would single handedly destroy my alma mater, the Columbia Lions, every time Harvard played them. Ledlum will be attending graduate school at St. John’s. 

Rail Explorers invite Cyclists to bring their Dogs!

Cooperstown, New York is best known for being the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame which inducted its newest members this past weekend. Cooperstown is also a favorite place for bicycle enthusiasts. Rail Explorers in Cooperstown is a company which organizes cycling tours from Cooperstown to nearby central New York State destinations. They are now inviting cyclists to bring along their dogs to ride with them. They are offering free biscuits, bandanas, and even a mat for Fido. 

Remembering Tony Bennett – A Legendary Singer and Even Better Person

I had the pleasure of once meeting Tony Bennett. We chatted about the popularity and development of his home neighborhood of Astoria. He was extremely gracious and was happy so many young people wanted to live there.

While “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” will always be his signature song, my favorite Bennett hit was “I Wanna Be Around,” a humorous revenge fantasy about an ex who dumped him getting her comeuppance from her current beau. It covered the same lyrical terrain as Del Shannon’s “Hats Off to Larry.” A close second is his recording of “The Good Life.”

You can read more of Lloyd Carroll’s columns posted weekly on The Queens Chronicle.

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