Money Ball: Mets’ Alonso wins HR Derby, $1M, tops Vlad Jr.

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - As­so­ci­ated Press

CLEVE­LAND — Pete Alonso took one fi­nal swing and flipped his bat high in the air. Another walk-off. Money ball.

As the crowd roared, the New York Mets rookie headed to­ward the mound and tightly squeezed his cousin and pitcher Derek Mor­gan, who had helped him win the All-star Home Run Derby and $1 mil­lion.

Alonso out­lasted a worn­down fel­low rookie Vladimir Guer­rero Jr. in the fi­nal round Mon­day night to take home a prize that nearly dou­bled his 2019 salary.

With just sec­onds to spare, Alonso con­nected for a homer to left-cen­ter to edge Guer­rero 23-22 after the Blue Jays’ pow­er­house put on a his­toric dis­play by hit­ting 91 homers be­fore he ran out of gas fol­low­ing an epic semi­fi­nal matchup against Dodgers out­fielder Joc Ped­er­son.

“There’s so many guys that just put on a show, like Joc, he was amaz­ing, Vladdy, they did such a good job,” Alonso said. “Every­body put on a show. To me it didn’t re­ally seem like the jit­ters were there, be­cause ev­ery­one was awe­some. I mean ev­ery­one was show­ing their stuff.”

After his last homer cleared the wall, Alonso was swarmed by the NL All-stars who along with a crowd of 36,119 fans were treated to a power dis­play un­like any in the event’s his­tory.

“This was sur­real,” Alonso said.

Alonso is the sec­ond rookie to win out­right, fol­low­ing Yan­kees star Aaron Judge in 2017. He’s also the first Mets player to win the derby since Dar­ryl Straw­berry shared the ti­tle with Wally Joyner in 1986.

Alonso, mak­ing the ma­jor league min­i­mum of $555,000 this sea­son, has hit 30 home runs. The first base­man will show­case his swing again

in Tues­day night’s All-star Game as base­ball con­tin­ues this sea­son of the long­ball.

And he’ll also give 10% of his prize money to charity — 5% each to the Wounded War­rior Project and to the Tun­nel to Tow­ers Foun­da­tion.

“I’ve been liv­ing a fan­tasy,” Alonso said. “And I just want to use my plat­form as al­most kind of just reach out to peo­ple and just make peo­ple aware of th­ese causes. And I hope that other peo­ple could find the kind­ness in their hearts.”

One of the only bright spots this sea­son for the strug­gling Mets, Alonso gave New York’s NL fans some­thing to brag about while the Yan­kees chase another ti­tle.

He showed some dra­matic flair with two nail­bit­ing wins to reach the fi­nal against Guer­rero. He nipped Cleve­land’s Car­los San­tana 14-13 in the first round and At­lanta’s Ron­ald Acuña Jr. 20-19 in the sec­ond to set up a show­down with the 20-yearold Guer­rero, whose Hall of Fame fa­ther won the event in 2007.

With one of base­ball’s most fear­some swings, Guer­rero fig­ured to be a force but there was no way of pre­dict­ing he’d hit 91 homers — 74 more than his dad’s en­tire to­tal 12 years ago.

Fol­low­ing the event, Guer­rero slowly walked to his chair in the club­house and sat down.

“I was kind of scared he was go­ing to beat me be­cause he was hit­ting sec­ond,” Guer­rero said through a translator. “It was back-and­forth and back-and forth. It was re­ally tir­ing.”

His hands blis­tered, Guer­rero more than equaled his sea­son’s salary of $468,468. He got $500,000 for fin­ish­ing sec­ond, plus a $100,000 bonus for hit­ting the long­est homer.

“I gave all I had. I’m proud I hit 91 home runs,” he said.

Guer­rero de­feated Ped­er­son in a semi­fi­nal that re­quired three ex­tra swing(ings) and will go down in derby lore.

They were tied 29-all after their four-minute round and then again fol­low­ing a 60-sec­ond ses­sion. Guer­rero and Ped­er­son then each home­red once when given three swings, forc­ing another be­stof-three round.

Guer­rero hit two, scream­ing at his sec­ond shot, which barely cleared the 19-foot high wall in left. Ped­er­son couldn’t match up, hit­ting a grounder on his fi­nal cut be­fore both play­ers shared an ex­hausted em­brace near home plate as the fel­low All­stars stood and ap­plauded like reg­u­lar fans.

The last Home Run Derby in Cleve­land was also won by a New Yorker — Yan­kees first base­man Tino Martinez, who took the 1997 crown over a field which in­cluded Hall of Famers Ken Grif­fey

Jr. and Jim Thome, who didn’t clear the walls once.

San­tana fared bet­ter than Thome, hit­ting 13 dingers in the first round. But Alonso ral­lied with two homers in the fi­nal 15 sec­onds to hit 14 as the Cleve­land crowd sneered.

“I didn’t think I’d ever be booed at a Home Run Derby, to be hon­est with you,” Alonso said. “But I guess that’s the home­town home cook­ing.”

The derby lost its top seed on Sun­day as Chris­tian Yelich, the reign­ing NL MVP and cur­rent home-run leader, with­drew from the con­test cit­ing a nag­ging back is­sue. Yelich didn’t want to risk in­jury and his de­ci­sion was cer­tainly wel­comed news to the Mil­wau­kee Brewers.

Yelich, who is still play­ing in Tues­day’s game, was re­placed by Oak­land’s Matt Chap­man, who had the mis­for­tune of be­ing paired against the hard-swing­ing Guer­rero in the first round.

When the ballpark gates opened at 5:30 fans, most of them wear­ing gloves, scram­bled down the con­courses to se­cure prime stand­ing-roomonly spots along the rail­ing above the left-field wall and be­hind the lower bowl seats in right.

They were hop­ing to see some moon shots, towering drives and mon­strous blasts from a group that didn’t dis­ap­point with 312 to­tal homers.

Alonso needed some time to get warmed up, but once he did, there was no stop­ping him.

“After we fi­nally got in that rhythm it was money,” he said. “It was money.”

AP

Pete Alonso, of the New York Mets, re­acts dur­ing the Ma­jor League Base­ball Home Run Derby on Mon­day in Cleve­land. The MLB All-star Game will be played to­day.

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