Back in black (jerseys)? Alonso hopes so

February 26th, 2021

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- may not be the only Met who wants the team to bring back its black alternate jerseys this season, but he’s easily the most outspoken member of that group.

Alonso on Friday again extolled the virtues of the black jerseys, which were an official alternate for the Mets from 1998-2012. For years, team officials have hesitated to bring back those jerseys, despite a growing push from fans. But that situation appears to be changing under new owner Steve Cohen, who has hinted at the jerseys’ return multiple times in interviews and on social media.

Other Mets, including Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith and Marcus Stroman, have openly pined for the black jerseys, leading Alonso to say he doesn’t understand why they seem so “polarizing.” A recent poll revealed that 79 percent of fans want them back in some form, with a significant chunk saying they believe they’d be best suited for Friday nights at Citi Field.

That’s precisely what Alonso envisions.

“I’m just picturing in my mind everybody in the stadium with a blackout jersey,” Alonso said. “I think it would be so intimidating, just a sea of black shirts out there in the outfield with music banging out of the speakers, lights going. It would bring a lot of swagger and a lot of moxie.”

Opponents of the black jerseys point out that black, unlike blue and orange, is not an official Mets color. But the enthusiasm of current players could change the equation. Alonso said he associates the black jerseys with superstars such as Mike Piazza, David Wright and José Reyes, giving them a vintage feel.

“You had so many of those great Mets that wore those black jerseys, and I feel like that’s so iconic,” Alonso said. "Bring that swagger. Bring that swagger back.”

Conforto noted that official jersey changes require licensing approvals and other logistical issues, though they also create marketing and revenue opportunities.

“I’m on board,” Conforto said. “I like those uniforms. I think we’d look pretty good out there.”

Doing good in the community
Cohen’s wife, Alex Cohen, was on hand Friday at Clover Park to relaunch and rebrand the Mets Foundation, the organization’s philanthropic arm. Under Cohen, the new Amazin’ Mets Foundation aims to provide “needed services and opportunities to children, families, and under-served groups in neighborhoods and communities near Citi Field, the Mets home ballpark,” according to a team release.

Alonso said that his own foundation, Homers For Heroes, aims to work hand-in-hand with Cohen’s group. Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrasco joined Cohen on the Clover Park Field for a media event announcing the rebrand.

“Our mission is simple: to be a champion, you need to stand for something,” Alex Cohen said in a statement. “It’s beyond the words of the mission. It’s about the work we will do. We’re committed to inspiring philanthropy and community service by creating awareness, offering guidance, and leading by example to show the world what giving can do.”

Pump up the jams
Plenty of observers have noted the upbeat playlist thumping throughout the Clover Park complex during workouts, featuring a mix of rap, rock, country, reggaeton and more. Turns out the mix was the idea of Lindor, who asked each of his teammates for three songs to add to the playlist.

Radar readings
Dellin Betances said he was throwing in “the low 90s” during his live batting-practice session on Friday, which he considered encouraging; at this time last year, he was sitting around 86 mph. Due in part to injuries, Betances’ fastball velocity has fallen from a career-high 98.3 mph in 2016-17 to a career-low 93.6 mph last season. He hopes to further increase his velocity before Opening Day.

Still, Betances’ live BP was most notable for the home run that Alonso hit off him, to right-center field.

Nearly full strength
Carlos Carrasco reported to Mets camp on Friday after missing the first four days of full-squad workouts due to a non-injury issue. That leaves only two absent players: non-roster infielders Brandon Drury and Wilfredo Tovar, who are due in this weekend. Both are also dealing with non-injury issues.

Familiar face
The Mets have hired former outfielder Matt den Dekker as their Minor League outfield and baserunning coordinator. A former prominent prospect in the organization and standout defensive center fielder, den Dekker played for the team from 2013-14 and '18. He last appeared in professional ball for the independent Long Island Ducks in 2019. Since that time, he’s worked as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Florida, as well as Charleston Southern University.