The Home Run Derby has never meant anything. It's exhibition. It's just eight guys trying to hit home runs. It's an event built for the fans off the powerful shoulders of baseball's best.
But I think this Derby meant a lot for David Ortiz.
If you didn't hear, David Ortiz won the 2010 Home Run Derby Monday night. He was great from start to finish, hitting eight home runs in the first round, 13 in the second and 11 in the final. He made Hanley Ramirez look like Ramon Ramirez in the final round, as the former Red Sox prospect mustered just five.
It was pure Papi Power.
Ortiz went into the competition as the oldest player there. He went in as the grizzled veteran, the guy many had written off last year and even this one. (I am not embarrassed to say that I was one of those people.) He was competing against guys that couldn't even chew hard food when Papi was working his way through the minor leagues. It wasn't just old versus young -- it was old versus young and young and young and young.
And we all know the truth: it is a young man's game. Not hitting home runs, but baseball in general. We all know there is a "wrong side" to 30 years old and Ortiz crossed that threshold a long time ago. Yet he proved his doubters wrong last year and he's proved them wrong this year.
Then he goes out and proves them wrong Monday night.
Ortiz winning the Derby may or may not have any impact on the rest of the season. A lot of Derby champions go out in the second half and seem to struggle. Although this doesn't mean Ortiz will definitely fall off the map, he could.
Or he could go out and build on this.
Ortiz told everyone tonight that watched that he can still play baseball. He's still a slugger. He can still hit home runs and he can still be a valuable asset to the Boston Red Sox. He's not washed up; he's still one of the best designated hitters in the American League.
At this very moment, David Ortiz is smiling. He isn't smiling because he won the Home Run Derby, though. He's smiling because he's still got it -- and now everyone knows that now. Not just him.