There can’t be more than a handful of people who would risk their lives if they had to utilize their baseball acumen to justify Tim Tebow wearing a major league uniform. And yet, there is a lure that suggests the young man belongs in baseball at its highest level. And just maybe, the New York Mets are on to something here.
Major league baseball exists as a form of entertainment. At its roots though, some of us know better, but like it or not, that’s all baseball is to most of the citizenry who follow our National Pastime. Ballparks exist as a place to gather up the kids, taking them on a one-day excursion into a world, which perhaps they’ve never witnessed before.
And to scoff down a couple of overpriced hot dogs with a bag of peanuts, stand up and sing-along during the seventh-inning stretch, and cheer as the home team player struts around the bases after clearing the fence with a majestic home run into the night sky.
Most baseball purists like myself (and perhaps yourself) don’t quite see the game that way, and we tend to follow the game as though it were a religion tethered to our back, forgetting the simple fact most people don’t see it that way.
So in the beginning, when it was first learned the Mets had signed Tim Tebow, I immediately thought of a traveling circus with the Golden Boy as the ringmaster. And like many, I knew the Mets couldn’t be serious, and there had to be something else going on here. With the Mets being “The Mets,” it wasn’t hard to see through the veneer. This was a stick-up in broad daylight designed only to, as George Steinbrenner liked to say, “put asses in the seats.”
Then, the Mets admitted to the free world that it was a stunt that remains so even today as Mets GM. Sandy Alderson, who had this to say about Tim Tebow at the Mets spring camp:
To understand where the Mets are coming from, it helped to hear a story reported by one of the Sirius XM analysts on MLB Radio as I was driving the other day. It seemed when Tim Tebow was playing at Class-A last season, the owner of a visiting team decided he needed a boost in attendance. So, he offered an opportunity for fans to pay an extra fee in addition to the ticket price to watch the Mets (not his team) take batting practice behind the cage.
There’s weren’t hordes, but there were 25 or so fans who bought into the idea. But that’s not the whole point, which was that Tim Tebow, being Tim Tebow, took the time after taking his swings to sign autographs, shake hands, and take selfies with every single fan who show showed up for the occasion.
This is the nature of the man, and after genuflecting at the altar, I can’t help but buy into the idea that there is a place in the major leagues for Tim Tebow. When a man has this kind of magnetism, he needs to be on an entertainment stage for all to see and enjoy.
The troubling detail, though, is that Tim Tebow represents a job in the Mets organization and even more so if he is handed a uniform to play at Citi Field. Up to a point, all professional ballplayers recognize baseball as a business, and they come to know things can get cutthroat at times.
Imagine, though, there is a Mets player who began the season at Double-A, was promoted to Triple-A and by September is high on the list for a callup to the show when the rosters expand. Except when the moment arrives, it is Tim Tebow, not him, who is being handed plane tickets to catch up with the Mets in Miami.
The thing, too, is the Mets don’t want this to turn into a circus of the kind baseball saw when Hall of Fame owner of the White Sox, Bill Veeck, decided it would be fun and increase attendance that night if he hired a midget to take a turn at-bat in a major league game.
Tebow is not at that level, of course. But the Mets need to be mindful of the numbers the man is putting up, and they can’t be midget level numbers.
Put it this way. Tim Tebow, the person, can do wonders for the sport of baseball. Tim Tebow, the ballplayer, maybe not so much. Remember, as cool as it was to observe Michael Jordan trying to make the jump from basketball to the White Sox, watching him fail wasn’t nearly as exciting as we thought it might be.
The Mets have a roadmap for this thing to happen with Tebow. So what the hell, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. And so I will.
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