What we remember about Pete Alonso's Home Run Derby championship two years ago is his joyful success, his earnest happiness as he hoisted the trophy after surviving an epic showdown with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
What is mostly forgotten are his frantic gestures to his pitcher, his cousin Derek Morgan, who was clearly overcome by the nerves that can erupt if you're alone in the middle of a party of 40,000-plus people.
Morgan struggled to throw strikes, but Alonso managed to reassure him, coax him along in the moment and hit enough home runs to win. Alonso's rounds of 2019 are reminders that the Home Run Derby participants can only be as good as their chosen pitchers allow them to be. You can be the greatest athlete in the world, and Shohei Ohtani might be, but if his pitcher is saturated with anxiety and bounces balls in the dirt, there's nothing he can do.
Alonso called for a new pitcher this year: Dave Jauss, the Mets' bench coach, who has spent years throwing batting practice in big league ballparks.
In a recent interview, Alonso talked about how much he loves competing in the Derby and how special the event is to him.
Pete Alonso relives 2019 Home Run Derby triumph
Pete Alonso and his cousin, Derek Morgan, reflect on their unbelievable 2019 Home Run Derby in Cleveland.
What follows are the who's and why's behind the pitchers selected by the other participants, and other notes ahead of Monday's Derby (8 p.m. ET, ESPN):