As we enter year three of Tebowmania, fans of the New York Mets and Tim Tebow have to start asking: Where does this all end?
Let’s play a game.
Imagine we are taking a poll amongst all 30 general managers in Major League Baseball. The question is simple: “Do you enjoy having distractions in your team’s clubhouse?” I don’t have much saved, but I’m willing to bet it all that the answer would unanimously be “no.” Actually, you never really know with Jerry DiPoto, but I digress.
Tim Tebow should have never been pushed out of the NFL. Unorthodox as he may be, that man is a playmaker and should have been afforded another chance to play quarterback at that level. It actually surprises me that he never hopped the border and did so up in Canada. Nevertheless, at some point, he decided he was going to play baseball and here we are.
Things could be worse. We could have to stomach headlines about Tebow playing for another team. As the saying goes, any press is good press and I for one enjoy more national headlines about my beloved New York Mets. But I think it is important that we all think long term here. Is Tim Tebow really going to be a Major Leaguer one day? Is he really going to be worthy of a spot on the 25-man roster? Is Tebow’s presence in camp taking away the spot of a more qualified ballplayer?
From the former Heisman Trophy Winner’s standpoint, he’s gone about this pretty well. He spent almost all of last offseason training with Daniel Murphy, a hitting guru amongst Major Leaguers. He has been nothing but respectful to the press and has seemingly worked his behind off, making noticeable improvement. If we had any doubts about Tebow’s seriousness when it came to his baseball career, they have now been completely expelled. So what if he keeps his College Football analyst gig in the offseason? In no way does it deter his commitment to America’s pastime.
Despite being initially seen as a publicity stunt, Tebow’s efforts have made believers out of many skeptics. You can now add Sandy Alderson to that list after he said this to Newsday’s Laura Albanese when discussing Tebow a few weeks ago.
“This experiment is not going to last forever, but he’s made meaningful progress. “Somebody asked me whether I think he’ll be a major-league player at some point. I think he will play in the major leagues. That’s my guess.”
So Tim Tebow is going to be a Major Leaguer one day according to Sandy Alderson. While this rollercoaster ride is fun, I think as Mets fans we should all sit down and ask ourselves whether that is a good thing. Hint: it’s not.
Without going on another tangent, I want to note that of any public figure that could be in this situation, Tebow is probably near the top in the list in terms of positive influence. He has always demonstrated strong leadership qualities (the guy won two BCS National Championships) and has remained an extremely high-character individual despite all of his years in the public eye.
Tebow regularly remains involved in various charitable activities and the community. This past offseason he spent volunteering at orphanages and staging proms for disabled children.
However, at the core of the entire Tim Tebow circus, it is a publicity stunt and publicity stunts are distractions. Referring back to our imaginary poll of all 30 Major League GMs—distractions are not good for ball clubs that hope to compete and seek entry into the postseason.
After all, the Mets started selling his jersey the week they announced his signing back in 2016, a particularly special distinction considering without specific contractual arrangements, an MLB club is not allowed to sell the jersey of a player outside of the MLBPA.
Reported by ESPN’s Darren Rovell back in 2016 when Tebow first signed with the Mets:
“Teams usually are not allowed to use a player’s name or image until he makes the 40-man major league roster, as those players are not considered part of the union. But sources said Tebow signed a bridge agreement with the official jersey supplier Majestic Athletic last week, which allows the company to merchandise him before he makes the majors.”
If you momentarily ignore Tebow’s celebrity status, I don’t think any rational human being would be able to get excited about a 30-year-old minor league outfielder with a career .226 batting average that has never peaked higher than .231 at a single minor league level.
There is a simple reason that athletes from other sports very rarely transition into baseball later into the careers: it’s really effing hard. Michael Jordan tried to do the same thing when “retired” from basketball for the first time. Tebow may have already surpassed His Airness in progressing on the baseball diamond, but professional baseball players are truly gifted at their crafts and would not be if they decided to take a decade away from the game.
While part of me hopes to see Tebow in the Majors one day just because of how remarkable of an achievement it would be, a bigger part of me wishes he would bite the bullet and say goodbye to his baseball dream. Tebow turns 31 in August and will be extremely close to the end of his baseball prime. If the upcoming season winds up being a wash, then we will be forced to deal with the constant call for a Tebow promotion. Regardless of what happens, I would hate to compromise this team’s efforts by giving meaningful at-bats to this former football star and taking playing time away from more deserving players.