Ah, yes, the captivating story that is Tim Tebow. Is he a football player? An analyst? A baseball player? All of the above apparently. Some fans want to see Tebow succeed because they like him; they think he’s a good person, so why shouldn’t he go out and make a tremendous leap from football to baseball at the age of 29? Others, on the other hand, aren’t happy that Tebow’s getting so much attention despite having been only involved with football for over a decade. Fortunately for the former fans, as it turns out, some Major League clubs have actually become interested in the baseball capabilities of Tim Tebow, the former college football star turned NFL dud turned professional baseball hopeful. On August 30, Tebow tried out for 28 MLB teams’ scouts at the University of Southern California. Tebow largely performed well-below major league level (unsurprisingly); the only categories he didn’t perform below average were running and throwing, which were two things we kind of already knew he could do. With that said, both of those abilities were very average, especially his throwing. But apparently his average arm, average speed, and well below average hitting ability were enough to garner the attention of the Atlanta Braves, despite not having played organized baseball since his Junior year in high school, which was 12 years ago.
When you stop and think about it, it makes sense that the Braves would be interested in Tebow. For starters, the Braves who, of course, are located in Atlanta, Georgia, are placed in the dead center of SEC country. It was in SEC country that Tim Tebow made his legacy at the University of Florida. But that, as we all remember, was as a quarterback, not a baseball player, so why might the Braves show apparent interest in Tebow? The Braves are likely on their way to losing 100 games this season, so bringing a guy into the organization that will sell tickets in their minor leagues (by the way, they own all of their minor league teams, which is highly uncommon in today’s market) means all the earnings from the minor league clubs for which Tebow will be playing will go straight into the pockets of the big boys upstairs; that, in turn, means the Braves can put more cash into developing their actual assets in the farm system.
I’m sure your initial thought might be, “well there are two teams in Florida, the Rays and the Marlins; why wouldn’t they want to pick him up?” Two reasons: 1) Tebow is from Jacksonville, which is on the border of Florida, right under Georgia. 2) Pedro Gomez of ESPN says, “the people of Florida don’t even consider Tampa and Miami as part of the state, especially Miami,” and I’m inclined to agree.
With an actual MLB organization showing interest in Tebow, that means he’ll likely avoid going to Venezuela, where he received an offer from Aguilas del Zulia, or signing with an independent league club somewhere in California, for example. What it does mean, though, is if Tebow signs with Atlanta, he’ll likely start in class A Rome Braves, or best case scenario, Class A Adv Carolina Mudcats. Worst case scenario, of course, would be starting in Rookie League Danville Braves of the Appalachian League. But when one gets signed by an MLB organization, is there actually a worst case scenario? There certainly wouldn’t be for me if I were in his shoes.
The other organization that’s showing interest in Tebow is the Rockies; perhaps they think the power he displayed during batting practice might translate well at Coors Field in the thin air. That is, if he can even make contact while in the batter’s box. But that might not be the reason because it seems a bit premature to consider signing Tebow because of how he might perform in the majors, which is at least five years away, if he gets signed, and I think that’s being conservative.
The question a lot fans are asking themselves is, if Tebow was considering playing baseball last winter, which he was, then why didn’t he just go ahead and play? Why did he wait and proceed to turn the process into a circus act? If you wanted to play ball, then just go play. At the very worst, go do some private workouts with individual teams. There’s no need to make into a media field day. After all, he’s probably just another guy that will play in the minor leagues and never crack a big league roster. Baseball is a very difficult game; in fact, I would argue that it is the most difficult game to play, so there’s virtually no chance of a guy picking up a bat, ball, and glove after not having played for 12 years and then end up making it to the big leagues. So I say, take whatever Atlanta offers you, or go to Venezuela, get a few hundred at bats under your belt, and then we’ll take it from there. At the very least I’ll give him a chance to prove himself once he gets signed.
I think Adam Jones summed it up nicely on Twitter on August 9, saying, “After this MLB season I’m going to try out for the NFL this offseason. I haven’t played since HS but I’ve played in a few TurkeyBowls since!!” We hear you, Adam, and we think you should go for it. Jones’s manager Buck Showalter had something to say about it, too, “Am I intrigued? No, not at all. I think about what these guys do in our Dominican academy in Del Marva and in Aberdeen and the Gulf Coast League and Frederick and Bowie and Del Marva, I have already mentioned, and Norfolk, I take very seriously the stuff they have to do to get the opportunities to do what they’re doing. Somebody will sell some tickets in the spring. I should be careful, we may sign him. I bet he was a good player when he was in high school, I was too. And I played quarterback.”
Listening to opinions of current and former players, as well as baseball analysts, while a lot of them are being courteous to Tebow, it’s pretty clear that they’re not having it, and I’m on board with them. That’s not to say that I want Tebow to fail because, frankly, it won’t impact me either way – I’ll continue to watch baseball with or without him. But people seem to think it’s an interesting story, so here we are. I can’t foresee Tebow getting past Class A Adv, but I also never thought I’d see a team change their ballpark name to something as silly as Guaranteed Rate Ballpark, like they’re doing on the south side of Chicago, so, hey, I guess anything’s possible.
(Photo: Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times)
(Source: Chris Cwik, Yahoo! Sports. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/buck-showalter-isnt-amused-by-tim-tebows-interest-in-baseball-215823257.html)