Neon Moment

Neon Moment Of The Week: Alonso A Yankee Doodle Dandy

The New York Mets went to Yankee Stadium for part one of the annual Subway Series scuffling. They had lost 11 out of their past 17 games. After taking the first game, they were on the precipice of losing another game while having another frustrating day at the plate with lost opportunities.

In the top of the seventh, which was the final inning because of Rob Manfred, Aroldis Chapman was on for the save. He had been struggling of late with the sticky substances crack down, but he got ahead of Pete Alonso, who was in a 1-for-17 stretch.

In dramatic fashion, Alonso hit a game tying solo homer ignoring the Mets offense.

After that homer, the Mets offense was unstoppable. Chapman completely lost it, and he set up a six run inning for the Mets. Just like that, a 5-4 loss became a 10-5 win. As an aside, this would prove to be the Mets first road series win since the May 31 – June 2 series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Alonso would go on to become the 30th player to homer in both ends of the doubleheader. After that, he’d go on to win the Home Run Derby. With the home run barrage and the sparking the Mets to victory, Alonso providing the early fireworks on the Fourth of July is the Neon Moment of the Week!

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Neon Moment Of The Week: Yes He McCann

One of the New York Mets most controversial moves this offseason was jumping the gun to sign James McCann. That bold move did not work out early.

In just about every single aspect of his game, McCann was struggling. Things got so bad for him he eventually lost his starting job to Tomas Nido. Eventually, due to injuries, McCann actually became the team’s first baseman.

Whether it was the temporary position switch or the change in hitting coaches, McCann has figured it back out, and he’s now looking every bit the player the Mets thought they were signing. He’s now a force both before and at the plate.

Over the past 11 games, McCann is hitting .300/.333/.675 with three doubles, four homers, and 11 RBI. That included a big game against Madison Bumgarner and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

After the 2016 Wild Card Game, seeing the Mets beat up on Bumgarner feels good. What feels better is seeing the Mets pick up a hard fought win.

In what was a back-and-forth game, McCann was 3-for-5 with a run, homer, and four RBI. His bat was the driving force of the Mets 7-6 win.

This game was both emblematic of where McCann and the Mets have come. After early season struggles, they’re settling in and starting to thrive. It’s why they’re in first place with the largest lead in all of baseball. It’s also why it was the Neon Moment of the Week!

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Neon Moment of the Week: Golden Stroman

Sometimes, when you watch a player, you just see they are better than just everyone at something, and it’s pure magic. You see it when Jacob deGrom toes the rubber. You see it when Mike Trout steps to the plate. You also see it when a ball is put in play, and Marcus Stroman has the ability to make a play.

In many ways, that was Stroman’s introduction to the Mets. In his first ever inning, he made a great play to nail a Pittsburgh Pirates runner at the plate. Each and every time Stroman pitches, you realize that any ball hit near him is a play that he can make. That includes the plays no one else can make.

We saw that in the game between the Mets and the Rockies in the first end of the doubleheader. On balls hit to catcher turned first baseman James McCann, Stroman sprung into action directing McCann. The result was an inexperienced first baseman being able to pull off what was somewhat difficult 3-1 putouts.

If that was it, it was enough. However, this is Stroman, a uniquely athletic pitcher who plays the position defensively like he is a shortstop. With the Mets up 1-o in the fifth inning of a seven inning game, the speedy Garrett Hampson tried to get on to start the inning by laying down a bunt. It was a great bunt, but a better play by Stroman.

That play as well as Stroman’s other plays in this game stood out, and it allowed the depleted Mets to beat a very good pitcher in German Marquez 1-0. The Mets needed everything they could muster to beat Marquez with this lineup. They got that from Stroman with his pitching and his defense. Looking at Stroman, he has been great in both aspect of his game all year.

 

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Going through Mets history, Storman is just on another level defensively. Seeing him play defense as a pitcher is like seeing Keith Hernandez play first, Rey Ordonez play shortstop, or Juan Lagares play center. His defense is so special he even earned real praise from Howie Rose who has been a Mets fan from the beginning. Stroman’s defensive play has caused Rose to remark he would pay just to see Stroman play defense.

When you are receiving that level of praise from the great Howie Rose, and you are doing all you can do to help this depleted Mets roster win games, this is obviously the Mets Neon Moment of the Week!

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Neon Moment Of The Week: Tomas Nido Winner

The story of the 2021 New York Mets has been the “Bench Mob.” They’ve been pressed into action much more than anticipated, and they’ve responded by propelling the Mets to first place.

In some ways, the leader of that group is Tomas Nido. More to the point, he’s been the glue guy of the roster. You see it with his wearing Pete Alonso‘s Donnie Stevenson t-shirts and donning Marcus Stroman‘s HDMH caps.

The thing is Nido may not be a “Bench Mob” player anymore. Recently, he’s started to take over as the team’s starting catcher. Yes, it’s partially due to James McCann‘s struggles, but it’s also because of how Nido has played.

So far this year, Nido has been one of, if not the Mets best hitter, and he’s been phenomenal defensively. All told, Nido has been great and has been a driving force for the Mets.

Case-in-point was the Mets game on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves. The depleted Mets team had squandered a two run lead and found themselves tied at 3-3 in the ninth. That was until Nido homered off it Will Smith:

That homer was the first shot between the Mets and Braves, the two teams who will presumably be fighting for the division. That homer announced to the Braves no matter how many injuries the Mets face, they’re not going anywhere, and they’re going to beat the Braves.

That homer not only sparked the Mets to take that series, but it also was a strong indication this Mets team is the toughest in the game. As it pertains to Nido, it might’ve been a sign he’s ready to become one of the best catchers in the game.

With the Mets beating the hated Braves, and Nido pushing more and more to become the starting catcher, that game winning homer is the Neon Moment of the Week!

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Neon Moment of the Week: Jacob deGrom Inner Circle Hall Of Famer

Earlier in the week, Jacob deGrom said something which would’ve sounded ridiculous from anyone else. Like Tom Brady, deGrom wants to play well into his 40s.

As he explained, that’s what he needs to do in order to fulfill his goal. As he said, “To become an inner-circle Hall of Famer, I’m gonna have to play that long.”

Like he always does, deGrom went out there and backed it up. He did it by once again setting Major League records.

In his complete game two hit shutout of the Washington Nationals, deGrom set a new personal best with 15 strikeouts. He became the first pitcher to strike out 50 over his first four starts of the season.

In fact, deGrom would accomplish far more than that. His career ERA dropped to 2.55, which puts him ahead of Tom Seaver. He now also tops Seaver in K/9 and ERA+ while nipping at his heels for FIP.

That’s not supposed to happen. This is like a New York Yankee taking a run at Babe Ruth. You’re not supposed to be able to reach these levels.

It’s not just that. The last pitcher to have ANY four span with 50 strikeouts and a sub 0.50 ERA are deGrom and Randy Johnson. He’s already bested Bob Gibson‘s mark for consecutive quality starts. The entire list of pitchers with a Rookie of the Year and consecutive Cy Youngs is deGrom.

In his career, deGrom has made 187 starts. In 88 of them, he’s allowed one run or fewer. That’s 47.1% of his career starts. This is truly rarified air, and he’s only getting better.

Anytime you set new records and officially move past Seaver, you firmly put yourself in the conversation for inner circle Hall of Famers, and obviously, it makes your performance the Neon Moment of the Week!

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Neon Moment of the Week: Jeff McNeil Bat Flip

The New York Mets did not get off to the best of starts to the 2021 season. Their first series was canceled due to the Washington Nationals being infected with COVID. They blew Jacob deGrom‘s first start, and they could never recover from David Peterson getting blitzed.

The team returned to Citi Field with a 1-2 record, and the team had a number of issues. There were a number of players scuffling, and that included Jeff McNeil. With McNeil, things were very different than they had been in past seasons.

Through no fault of his own, McNeil was dropped from the top to the bottom of the lineup. After starting the season 0-for-7, he was given the day off in the series finale. On his birthday, he was dropped to seventh in the lineup hitting behind Jonathan Villar. After starting the day 0-for-2, McNeil was due to lead-off the ninth with the Mets on verge of losing their home opener in very frustrating fashion.

In uncharacteristic fashion, McNeil did not swing at the first pitch. Of course, the pitch being out of the zone by a good margin does that. McNeil would work the count in his favor, and then Miami Marlins closer Anthony Bass would throw one inside, and McNeil would tie the game with his first hit of the season:

After connecting, McNeil would have a bat flip reminiscent of the one Asdrubal Cabrera had roughly five years ago. No, this was not a game of the same magnitude, but this was a special game. It was the Mets home opener, and it was the first home game with fans in the stands since the end of the 2019 season.

Lost in that hit was the fact McNeil had actually been hitting the ball extremely hard to start the season. Going to Baseball Savant, McNeil was hitting the ball hard and was barreling it up. It really was only a matter of time before we start to see McNeil hitting the ball like we knew he could. McNeil chose the best time to do it. He would not only tie the game, but he started a rally which ended with the Mets winning the game.

With McNeil busting out of his early season slump and his getting the Mets first real big hit of the season, his homer and bat flip is our first Neon Moment of the Week for the 2021 season!

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I am very appreciative Athlete Logos has agreed to participate in this feature. If you like his work as much as I do, please visit his website to enjoy his work, buy some of his merchandise, or to contract him to do some personal work for yourself (like I have).