PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In Pete Alonso's mind, the vision is clear. The Mets are champions. They are in Lower Manhattan, making their way toward City Hall, toward a date with the mayor, toward a destiny years in the making. In Alonso’s brain, “there’s one goal, and that’s to win a World Series.”
“I want to be celebrating,” he said after reporting to Mets camp on Saturday. “I want to be on a parade float, drunk as hell. That’s the goal. I want to be having good times with everybody, celebrating, holding up the trophy.”
For the first time in Alonso’s professional life, he no longer has to divert all his attention to individual concerns. A year ago, Alonso was not even on the Mets’ 40-man roster, let alone guaranteed an Opening Day spot. Nearly every baseball fan knows what happened next: Alonso not only made the team, but bashed a rookie-record 53 home runs, went to the All-Star Game, won the Home Run Derby, created a resurgence of interest in the Mets and, in the span of months, became both an international superstar and a clubhouse leader.
For an encore, he intends to win.
“I want to keep on playing through October,” Alonso said. “It would be nice to play all the way through 'til November. That’s the goal. I don’t want to think of Sept. [27th] as the last day of the season. I want to win the last game of the year.”
The Mets’ ability to do so will revolve in large part upon Alonso’s ability to repeat his historic rookie season. After it ended, Alonso returned to a life that was similar in all respects but one: “A lot more people knew my name.” At home in Florida and New York, he continued to work tirelessly on his defense, calling a Gold Glove the individual goal he covets most. He officially won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in November, before receiving the trophy from Jerry Seinfeld -- “someone I look up to” -- at the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s New York Chapter dinner.
There, Seinfeld revealed he’s a big Pete Alonso fan.
Jerry’s not the only one wondering what might come next. Alonso has big goals, big dreams. Fifty-three homers? He doesn’t see why he can’t exceed that. Baserunning? He aims to steal five or 10 bags, if he can. First-base defense? “So many people counted me out on it … to throw it in their face would be awesome.”
“Anything’s possible,” Alonso said.” But for me to do that, I have to stay within myself. I have to concentrate on the details. I want to be better -- not just hitting home runs, but [in] every offensive category. … I want to do everything better, if I can. I want to push myself to do that. I want to get the absolute most out of what I have.”
Last year, Alonso achieved that goal, putting up one of the better individual seasons in Mets history. He earned a catchy nickname -- “Polar Bear” -- and became one of the most popular players nationwide, cracking Major League Baseball’s Top 20 jersey sales list as a rookie.
At age 24, Alonso was beloved. At age 25, he has a chance to become something more.
“I want to keep pushing and get better,” he said. “I don’t want to feel complacent or comfortable. I had a really good year last year, but I want to be better. I want to see how far I can push myself. If you keep searching for new limits, you never know what can happen.”