“Ladies and Gentlemen, now batting for the New York Mets, number 15, right-fielder, Tim Tebow!”
As frightening as those words looks on paper, they could actually become a reality next year for the Mets.
Yes, Tim Tebow has come out of retirement, but not back to the NFL. He is now a professional baseball player.
Over the last few weeks, this has become a national sporting debate, but in case you haven’t heard, former NFL, 2-time NCAA national champion, and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow, recently signed a $100,000 minor league deal with the New York Mets.
This morning, Tebow participated in his first fall instructional practice with the Mets at their facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida in front of over 60 media members, and over 400 fans–an unheard of amount of attention for a fall league workout. A Mets staff member said that the workouts have never been closed to fans or media, but that’s because no one has ever bothered to show up to them.
From a baseball perspective, you might be thinking, “what benefits would there be to having a washed up NFL backup who hasn’t played baseball since his junior year of high school back in 2005 have for the Mets?” Well, despite the public’s lack of faith in him, the Mets seem excited about his future.
During his pro-day, Tebow did not show particularly well defensively as his awkward footwork and throwing motion did not have the typical polish of a legitimate Major League prospect. At the plate, he did show potential however as he launched a couple impressive home runs to left-center and right-center field during batting practice. This must have been good enough for the Mets, who obviously thought highly enough of him to offer him $100,000 to play for them.
He also faced two former MLB pitchers who held him to some ground-outs, a few swing and misses, and a couple singles to center while throwing only fastballs. When they started to mix in off-speed pitches, the number of swing and misses increased instantaneously.
If many believe that Tebow will never make the Mets 40 man roster, then why did they sign him? Certainly a positive that the Mets considered when adding Tebow would be for the impact he could have on the business side of their organization.
The Mets have already been eager to cash-in on the media frenzy and the attention that having a celebrity like Tebow on their team has brought. At their facility this morning during their first workout, they had t-shirts ($30) and authentic Mets jerseys ($120) for sale with Tebow and the number 15 printed across the back. To make things better for the Mets, because Tebow is not a member of their 40-man roster, they do not have to pay Major League Baseball a licensing fee for the jerseys, so their sale is pure profit for both the Mets and Tebow.
This move could ultimately turn out like the situation in 1994 when the Chicago White Sox signed NBA superstar Michael Jordan to a deal after the death of his father and his first retirement from the game of basketball.
Given the huge success that Jordan had on the Birmingham Barons in attendance and ticket saled back in ’94 (shattered both season and single-game club records that still stand to this day), Tebow could be expected to bring that same level of interest from Mets fans in 2017. Jordan did manage to hit a home run during his short stint in the White Sox organization, so we will have to wait and see if Tebow can match, or possibly surpass him, in terms of the long ball.
Realistically though, many view Michael Jordan as one of the greatest athletes of all time in any sport, but when taken out of his element of basketball, he became an average baseball player. I anticipate the same thing to occur to Tebow.
Despite Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson repeatedly telling the media that signing Tebow was not a business move, the likelihood of Tebow becoming a star player with them is about as low as his chance of winning the Powerball lottery. Could it happen? Yes. Will it happen? I don’t think so.
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