Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tim Tebow Isn't The Problem, The Narrative Is

Today, the New York Mets became the team to sign former Florida Gators and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow to a minor league contract. The assumption is that he'll head to either the instructional league or the Arizona Fall League. From essentially the news of a Tebow tryout broke, there have been feelings on both sides of the fence. When considering my stance, I simply can't get over the ridiculousness of the message both the Mets and professional baseball is sending.

As of today, Tim Tebow is a 29 year old that has not played organized baseball since he was a well rounded athlete at Neese High School. He's played since at The Swamp, and in big time NFL stadiums. He's been a quarterback, and now a TV Analyst. At no point in over ten years has he ever been a baseball player, until now.

Let's address a couple of the rebuttals I've seen on the interwebs this far. No, I don't dislike Tim Tebow. In fact, I believe he's a better NFL quarterback than at least a handful of current backups, and I'd personally rather see him start than one NFL quarterback. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant, the point is that I don't have a vengeance against the man at all. In fact, I think he's been blackballed from the sport he fits in simply because of the media frenzy that baseball is welcoming.

Secondly, there's this notion that it's just a minor league signing and that excuses any ill-advised decisions because they are (for the majority) all low risk crapshoots. Sure, there's a ton of players in minor league baseball, and a very minute amount that will ever reach the big leagues. Tebow though, was graded above average only in speed and raw power. When considering how fast you can run, or how far you can hit a meatball, teams don't typically line up to offer contracts to those that are received warmly.

I'd make the argument that hitting a baseball is quite possibly the most difficult athletic feat there is. A small round object is being thrown towards you at speeds of nearly 100 mph and you are tasked to make a split second decision to swing, and make contact, with a small round bat. It's not for the faint of heart, and those that are projected to develop into being capable of competing at the highest level have significant signs in their corner.

Understanding where Tebow is on his developmental curve, and the fact that he's at essentially the age a player typically reaches their prime, expecting him to progress substantially is a fool's errand. A below average thrower, hitter, and fielder, investing into him as a project could be better served with a player that may actually allow you to reap dividends.

It's not at all fair for me to suggest that the New York Mets are signing Tim Tebow simply as a publicity stunt. Obviously Tebow doesn't need the media attention, but it'd be silly not to assume that jersey sales and affiliate ticket sales wouldn't rise because of his presence. That all being said, GM Sandy Alderson isn't doing himself any favors to dispel the notion that's all this is either. Today he even went as far as wondering whether the Mets may have the former quarterback invited to big league spring training.

At the end of the day, the grind through minor league baseball is far from an easy one. It takes countless hours devoted to a craft you already possess better than average skills for. It's not for the faint of heart, and more often than not, it ends in heartbreak. Tebow is attacking that reality by working out with the Mets that he will continue to serve ESPN as an SEC analyst on the weekends, and he may even be on an Arizona Fall League (usually reserved for an organization's top talents) roster.

The showcase treatment for Tim Tebow as if he were some Cuban superstar was amazing in and of itself. The way the Mets have allowed it to progress from there has taken an even more interesting turn. Minor League baseball is professional baseball after all, and it shouldn't be used as a proving ground to try and expand decade old skills. Absolutely baseball has been looking for ways to drive new viewers to the sport, but making a mockery of itself in the form of some participation-trophy-esque fashion is a sad development.

There will be minor leagues that likely welcome the opportunity to be starstruck by the former NFL player, but if really considering it at its core, I'd assume the idea of Tebow being given a free pass isn't thrilling. There's a place for this kind of thing in non-affiliated Indy Leagues, but let's stop pretending this is any more legitimate than the farce it should be seen as.

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