MINNEAPOLIS -- So was this the night the legend of Yoenis Cespedes was born? Or had that already happened, on another magical Monday night in July, 52 weeks ago?
The world may not be that familiar with this man's work the other 364 days of the year. But on Home Run Derby Monday, he becomes the human launching pad you can't take your eyes off.
A year ago, Cespedes swooped in from Oakland and devoured his first Home Run Derby, at Citi Field in New York. But his second act, at Target Field on Monday night, might have been even more eye-popping.
One minute, it looked as though he wasn't going to make it out of the first round. Next thing you know, it felt like he was going to crank another home run into somebody's second-deck luxury suite with every ferocious hack he took.
He hit only two home runs in his first eight swings of the bat. He then whomped 28 in his final 50 waves of the bat. And by the time all those space capsules had returned to Earth, Cespedes had done something only one other man had ever done:
Won two Home Run Derbies in a row.
Just the great Kenneth Griffey Jr. had ever done it before this, in 1998-99. But at the time Griffey did it, he was possibly the biggest name in his sport.
Cespedes, on the other hand, is a very different kind of story. He was an international man of mystery before he won his first Derby. He's not a whole lot less mysterious now that he's 2-for-2.
But there's one thing we know about him for sure:
The Home Run Derby is his kind of spectacle.
"Everyone talks about his ability -- his beautiful swing, his power," said his personal Derby delivery man, A's coach Mike Gallego. "But I'll tell you what, the mind over matter is incredible. He doesn't let the big stage affect him, obviously. I think he thrives on it, as a matter of fact."
Every one of those men has a special place in Derby lore in some way, shape or form. But no more special place than Cespedes. Not anymore.
The list of sluggers who have won more than one Derby, over an entire career, consists of just Griffey (three), Prince Fielder (two) and now Cespedes. But this guy is just getting started. So who knows how many more he might feel like winning? One? Two? Twelve?
You shouldn't put anything past him. You know that, right? Even noted Derby veteran Chipper Jones was conceding that Monday night when he tweeted:
Ok I'm a believer! I'm taking Cespedes to win next years Derby. First back-to-back-to-back winner ever. You heard it here first.- Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) July 15, 2014
But it's not as if the men who play with Cespedes in Oakland needed Chipper to convince them of that. For three seasons now, they've been watching this remarkable hulkster send batting-practice home runs whooshing into parts of the Coliseum never before visited by flying baseballs. So nothing that happened Monday night surprised them in the least.