Pete Alonso went locker to locker finding shoe sizes. He took note of the brand of cleats his teammates wore and took copious notes. Major League Baseball had already denied his request to wear custom hats honoring 9/11 first responders, so Alonso chose another route.
“It just comes from a place where I want to show support to not just the victims but the family members as well because no one really knows how deep those emotional scars can be,” Alonso said Wednesday of the custom airbrushed cleats he and all his teammates wore – the ones honoring the first responders. “I just want to show recognition to all the people who are heroes – just ordinary people that felt a sense of urgency and an admirable call of duty. This is for all those people who lost their lives and all of those people who did so much to help.”
What’s more, the Mets didn’t ask permission. Worried that MLB would respond unfavorably, the team decided as a unit to wear the cleats. Alonso acknowledged that they could be fined, but as a group, the Mets decided it was a risk they were willing to take.
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of red tape with Major League Baseball and they kind of shot that idea down and I think it’s kind of sad that since that day, the first game back, they shut it down every single year since,” he said. “I think that’s really unfortunate, so the way to get around that was the cleats.”
The Mets famously wore first responder caps in their first game after September 11, 2001, but weren’t allowed to repeat the act any time since. The team has, in the past, asked MLB to wear it on 9/11, but has been denied. Alonso’s request was the latest of such denials. Instead, the Mets first basemen, along with his agents and other helpers, got the shoe sizes and brands, and had the cleats made. Alonso, who’s making the major-league minimum, gifted them to all his teammates. The cleats feature the date of the attacks, a silhouette of the Twin Towers, and a depiction of the firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero. There’s also the initials of all the first responder agencies.
“I’m really happy that everyone wore the shoes because we could have gotten fined for it, but everyone was willing to back up the cause,” he said. “This is something that we wanted to do. I feel like if MLB got their hands on it it may have not been approved but I’m really happy that we banded together here in the clubhouse and make something cool happen.”
Alonso said that since moving to New York, he’s seen how the terrorist attacks are stitched in the fabric of the city. “I see traces of it every single day, little bits and pieces of it,” he said.
“I just want to give back. I want to help. I don’t just want to be known as a good baseball player. I want to be known as a good person.”
Rest of the way
Mickey Callaway Wednesday rested Robinson Cano and Michael Conforto in an effort to keep Cano healthy and keep Conforto fresh during this stretch of 13 straight games.
Both are expected to be back in the lineup Thursday. Juan Lagares played center and Jeff McNeil was at second base.
“You understand that when we have this 10-day stretch or whatever it is, that it would be tough for everybody to play every day,” Callaway said. “With the two lefties back to back and our ability to give [Conforto] a little bit of a breather right in the middle of this stretch, I think this was the perfect day for him … You just try to pick opportune days where if you feel like guys are getting tired or it just makes sense … you do that.”
Callaway said that as part of Cano’s recovery, they’re trying to play him no more than three days in a row.
Robert Gsellman (partially-torn lat) long tossed Tuesday and felt “great,” Callaway said.
Collins expands role
Terry Collins’ role with the franchise will expand next season, as the former Mets manager will be named senior adviser for player personnel, according to a source. Collins, who led the Mets to the World Series in 2015, is currently serving as special adviser to the general manager.