David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz wanted to swing in the All Star Home Run Derby in Anaheim, CA tonight. He wanted to let everyone know to know that he is far, far, very far from done. It wasn’t too long ago that forks were out and ready all over Red Sox Nation. Granted he has tested the loyalty all of the Nation’s legions of fans for 2 full months last year and again in April of this year. That Francona had Mike Lowell pinch hit for Ortiz on April 21st this year was seemingly another sign that Big Papi, probably one of the most prolific clutch hitters in Red Sox history, had become simply David Ortiz, just another designated hitter and part time first baseman.
Papi finished 3rd in the 1st round of the Derby sending 8 long balls ‘To the moon, Alice!’ as Chris Berman exclaimed. His longest was 440’ and 402’ was his average. Corey Hart held the lead after the completion of the 1st round with 13 home runs, followed by the former Red Sox prospect Hanley Ramirez with 9 homers. Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera rounded out the 2nd round qualifiers with 7 homers.
Big Papi was still far from done for the night, though. He was the 2nd round leader with 13, leaving him in a tie with Ramirez, each stroking a total of 21 home runs after the 2nd round. Ortiz and Ramirez were on their way to the final round.
Papi was saving his best for the last, though. Pouring on the hot sauce, Big Papi was huge in the final round, knocking another 11 balls out of the yard. When it came down to ‘the student and the mentor’ in a head to head competition in the final round, the mentor won. Ramirez ran out of gas hitting only 5 in the final round. Big Papi has made his statement. I would not be surprised to see the National League give him free passes in tomorrow night’s All Star Game.
Maybe it was his stylin’ shoes, maybe it was his son cheering him on from the sidelines, maybe it was the laid back atmosphere of this Derby, but whatever it was, David ‘Big Papi’ has redeemed himself. That wrist injury may have slowed him down in the first months of the past 2 seasons, emphasis on the ‘past,’ but no longer.
Maybe the best description of the night of Papi's performance came from Berman when he declared that one of those homers was heading to ‘The O Zone, The Ortiz Zone!’
So Red Sox fans, has Papi earned his option for next year? He just may have done it, he just may have done it.
Fenway West 07.12.10