Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tim Tebow: Baseball Player, Dream Crusher

Tim Tebow is a professional baseball player. Please take a look at this chart.

People Currently In Professional Baseball

We all know the story. Signing a $100K minor league deal with the New York Mets, Tebow will now report to the instructional leagues this fall in an attempt to transition to baseball after a storied NFL career. It's been eleven years since he's played competitively, but he organized a showcase anyway. Miraculously, 28 teams and 40+ scouts showed up. The Mets supposedly liked his raw power, and inked him. 


I have no doubt that Tim Tebow is a great guy. His reputation as a tremendous clubhouse leader, a devout Christian, and a generous philanthropist follows him everywhere. When asked why he was taking a shot at baseball, he said that it wasn't a publicity stunt, he was simply chasing a dream, just like the thousands of other amateur ballplayers just looking to crack into the world of professional baseball player. But why has Tim Tebow, above everyone else, gotten a shot, while others are watching their childhood dreams get crushed and having to move on in life? The Mets (and Tebow's most supportive fans) say it is because of his athleticism, and the signing was purely a baseball decision. But let's be real here. Tebow was signed for publicity, to put fans in seats of minor league ballparks.

High quality Photoshop/DraftKings Playbook
I don't fault the Mets for signing him. $100K is nothing in baseball money, and that money will come back quickly if the fans are hooked by the novelty. And to be honest, he is a great athlete, and he can hit the ball a long way. Signing Tebow carries no risk and carries plenty of reward in revenue and media attention, and in the 0.000000001% chance he makes it... However, there is no need to sugarcoat this signing, and there is absolutely no need for fans to defend it. For all the pro baseball players who are upset and taking to social media to complain about it, they have every right to as well. Baseball is incredibly hard- the effort, the grind, the hours spent perfecting that swing off a tee, the hundreds of bullpens thrown to refine that control- is no joke. For one unlucky player, who has spent all their life chasing a near-impossible dream and is so close to making it, all their hard work over the years will be leapfrogged by a publicity stunt. And that is not fair.

"It's crazy how guys play all through high school, all through college, play independent ball and don't get that type of private showcase, and then he does. But that's the world we live in. Hopefully the Mets get out of it what they want, and hopefully he gets out of it what he wants." -Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays ace pitcher, whose signing bonus was similar to Tebow's

Tebow is a media event. A carnival attraction. A ploy to get fans to attend minor league games. And nothing more. Any attempt to convince fans that he is a real prospect will be shut down quickly, as evidenced by film from his showcase. Despite the build and what looks to be a cannon of an arm, Tebow's throwing is a 35, as are his footwork and routes when fielding. He runs well for a big man, but not well enough to influence games based on his legs alone. All his value will be tied to the bat, where his one plus tool, raw power, hopes to carry him. He can hit balls 440+ feet in BP, but his swing is grooved and unadjustable to pitches that aren't down the middle. Here is some footage of him taking fly balls. This was a showcase. Try to imagine that in a pro game.

Funny thing is, Tebow wasn't even the first athlete from a different sport to try and convert to baseball. Ever heard of Kieran Powell? The lefty-swinging world-class cricket player had private workouts with the Mets and the Brewers early in the spring. Powell, an opening batsman (sort of like a leadoff man), displayed good speed, a smoother swing than Tebow, and much better footwork in the outfield. While he too, was a non-prospect (awkward throwing motion, shoddy hands, only gap pop), his performance on the field could not be any worse than Tebow. Being younger (26 to Tebow's 29) and having played a hand-eye coordination, hitting related sport in the past decade, with a much smoother swing that can make decent contact, Powell would have had maybe even more potential. Powell, like Tebow, like the countless high school, college, and indy ball players out there, was just looking to chase a professional baseball dream. But why wasn't he signed? Because the name Kieran Powell has no meaning for American sports fans. Tim Tebow is an American hero. Name value alone has carried Tebow into the world of professional sports, leapfrogging Powell and all the other pro ball hopefuls along the way.

Ian Strom. Raphael Ramirez. Arnaldo Berrios. Jay Jabs. Jacob Zanon. Will Barring. Tucker Tharp. Joe Tuschak. Patrick Biondi. Champ Stuart. These are the minor league outfielders in the low minors of the Mets organization, and they too, have no name value. Tebow's signing will cost one of them their job. Tim Tebow's signing is great for him, and for the Mets marketing department. Hell, they have a special schedule of Tim Tebow's appearance days in the instructional league specifically for the media. The whole signing is simply a marketing ploy, but for one of these outfielders, it means the end of their dreams. All their life, dedicated to baseball, will all be gone just like that. The fact that Tebow gets to keep his job as an SEC analyst while the others keep grinding away in the instructional league is just blatant disrespect; it's treating the dreams of others as a joke. Baseball is more than just a game for so many people. Baseball is a lifelong dream. And to have that stripped away for a marketing ploy, just so the media can go crazy to watch a former NFL hero take some hacks and get embarrassed by pro pitching, its simply unfair. None of this is Tebow's fault. Or the Mets fault. And it definitely isn't Strom's, Ramirez's, Berrios's, Jabs's, Zanon's, Barring's, Tharp's, Tuschak's, Biondi's or Stuart's. These guys gave their life to this sport. Baseball is a wonderful sport, but baseball is also cruel.

Bonus video: Domingo Ayala teaches us how to play beisbol like Tim Tebow. big tyne.

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