Tim Tebow is an athlete who winds up getting more attention than he probably should, especially these days, but that just may be his ticket to the big leagues.
Let me start by giving a little background on my “history” with Tim Tebow.
I have long felt certain networks (ESPN) focused far too much on Tebow than they should as he was never that great of an NFL quarterback, and the most common question I get during radio appearances about Minor League Baseball is about Tebow, but his off the field actions are definitely more honorable than many athletes.
That said, I have never understood the fascination with him, and I saw it first hand on the last day of January, 2015.
I was covering an incredible event, The Taste of the NFL, for my own site the night before the Patriots beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona. The event raises money for food banks in all NFL cities across the country and was littered with NFL Hall of Famers. I got the chance to speak with Willie Roaf, Kellen Winslow, Jack Youngblood, Chris Doleman, and many other NFL legends, to go along with the likes of Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson, chefs like Anne Burrell, and the host of the event Alyssa Milano. With 75 or so celebrities from the big screen, to music, to the NFL, to the culinary world, there was no one person that got more attention from the public than Tim Tebow. It just baffled me that with all the star power at the event, he was the one getting the most attention.
My next interaction was in the Arizona Fall League, which is typically a true honor to be selected to appear in as it is known as baseball’s “finishing school”. Tebow, like Michael Jordan during his brief baseball career, was invited to play in the AFL, but unlike Jordan, this was Tebow’s pro debut, and he took Saturday’s off to cover college football for ESPN. He hit .194 in 19 games in the AFL and it was well known he didn’t fit at that level at the time.
Then there was the game against the Portland Sea Dogs on Monday night where he misplayed the ball hit by Josh Ockimey off the “Maine Monster” that came down, hit Tebow in the head, and deflected into the bullpen to give Ockimey a triple.
Now, despite all these things that tend to have my initial reaction at the sound of his name to be a cringe, I actually believe he should and will be playing in Citi Field for the New York Mets before the end of the season.
He struggled some in his first full season between Class A Columbia and Class A Advanced St. Lucie, but has had a solid season this year with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies where he was actually named to the Eastern League All-Star Team.
The Mets are currently 14.5 games out of first in the NL East and 12.5 out of a Wild Card spot, so their playoff hopes are all but over. Come September, the Yankees will likely be in a hard fought battle with the Red Sox for the AL East title, and the NFL will be starting, so the Mets will be hard pressed to get fans out to the stadium. They will be sellers at the trade deadline, which could easily open up a spot on the 40-man roster for one by the name of Tim Tebow.
He is a poor outfielder and is striking out at a higher rate than he did last year or in the AFL the year before, but he has shown some pop and does have a decent eye at the plate. Even if it is just a ploy to get more fans through the gates and sell some extra jerseys, Tebow has done enough to prove he won’t make a mockery of the himself or the game should he be called up as he is a legitimate pro baseball talent.
I don’t see the Mets rolling him out as a regular starter, but a handful of starts in September and an appearance as a pinch hitter on most nights, that is a role that he could fill and be a mutual benefit for Tebow and the Mets bottom line.
No, this is definitely not a glowing review of Tebow the player or those infatuated with him, but again, there are many worse people for kids to look up to. He has lived the grind of a minor leaguer for two years now without going out of his way to try and get extra attention. If/when the Mets do call him up, the story should be about the ability to set your mind to something, put your head down and work your butt off for it, and good things will come.
I do hope when the day in September is upon us that Tim Tebow steps onto a big league diamond, the message delivered is one of positivity in the journey rather than throwing water on the fact he may not exactly have earned the call due to his on-field performance.