Joey Chestnut on his way to eating 71 hot dogs...

Joey Chestnut on his way to eating 71 hot dogs on Thursday to win the annual contest at Coney Island. The Mets' Jeff McNeil (not in photo) was a judge at the event. Credit: Li Yakira Cohen

Jeff McNeil almost could not conceive of the competitive display in front of him.

The speed. The relentlessness. The sodium intake.

“It was kind of gross,” he said after serving as a guest judge at the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest Thursday. But McNeil, who has completed some pretty incredible athletic feats himself, had to recognize one unmistakable fact: “It was unbelievable.”

On July 4, the athlete became the fan, as McNeil watched hot dog-gobbling institution Joey Chestnut put away a whopping 71 beef logs in sheepskin casing. (Yes, that’s what makes up a Nathan’s hot dog. Sorry.)

As judge, McNeil, dressed in a referee shirt, was in charge of helping keep track of the number of dogs consumed.

“I wasn’t even the counter,” McNeil said. “I was the guy that turned the paper. It was really easy. I really did nothing. It was a lot of fun.”

McNeil was in position because of a scheduling quirk. Although baseball is America’s pastime, the Mets somehow were off on July 4 (Mickey Callaway called it his first non-working Independence Day in 23 years).

When McNeil was asked if he wanted to judge the contest, he mustered up the courage. He said he loved watching the contest on TV when he could, so when he saw he would be free, his eyes immediately turned south, toward Coney Island. He contacted his agent, who asked McNeil if he wanted to judge it. Yes, yes he did.

“I was sitting in the front row right there. It was cool to see,” he said.

Was that necessarily a good thing? “No. I would have probably preferred to be a few rows back, but it was awesome to see. I don’t know how they do that.”

After McNeil viewed the spectacle in person, his sense of wonder was intact, even if his appetite wasn’t.

“I did not have one hot dog the whole day,” he said. “And I like hot dogs.”

Yada, yada, yada

Jerry Seinfeld reunited with presumed spitter Keith Hernandez on Friday as the Mets celebrated Seinfeld Night. Hernandez was the major focus of “The Magic Loogie” episode in which Kramer and Newman believe the Mets first baseman spit on them (it actually was Roger McDowell). The first 25,000 fans received a Seinfeld bobblehead, and a re-creation of the Seinfeld couch was outside Citi Field.

Seinfeld was on hand during batting practice and chatted with Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso, the latter of whom gave Seinfeld a bat.