Sad but true, it looks like Tim Tebow has reached his Harvard in baseball at the Triple-A level. He gave it the ole’ college try, but it isn’t enough…
Tim Tebow is a baseball story everyone wants in on. The All-American Boy packed full with athletic ability, goods looks, and religious fervor sought to defy the odds that he could earn a spot on a major league roster.
The New York Mets took the bait when no one else would, suffering the wrath of the media which spurned the idea as a marketing ploy. To which the Mets (ultimately) confessed, you betcha it is. Because after all, as George Steinbrenner said of Reggie Jackson, “He puts asses in the seats”.
But beneath the neon lights that shined brightly on him wherever he went, Timothy Richard Tebow had a burning desire to be a big league ballplayer. Never for a minute did he play into the circus surrounding him. Instead, he went to work, carrying his lunchpail every day he showed up putting in the time and the effort to succeed in his chosen craft.
The Ride Begins…
Not made of self-doubt, Tebow began his professional baseball career in the Arizona Fall League in 2016, where he played 16 games, batting a paltry .194 with only three extra-base hits. The whispers and the “I told you so’s” reached a crescendo, but it was time for the journey to move on.
Hoping for the best, the Mets assigned Tim Tebow to St. Lucie, a team in their Class A+ farm system. A .231 batting average in 62 games there put the Mets in a defensive position. As quietly as possible, they demoted Tebow to their Class A team in Columbia, where he played another 62 games with similar results (.220, .311 OBP, 3 HR, 23 RBI).
Not to be deterred, however, the Mets brass promoted Tebow to their Double-A team in Binghamton, NY for the 2018 season. And voila, the skies lit up and Tim Tebow looked like there was a chance that someday he would hold a place on the New York Mets roster.
Tebow raised his average to a respectable .273 and added 14 doubles and six home runs to his hit totals for the year in 84 games. Giddiness prevailed in the Mets camp but those in the know looked a bit deeper to find 103 strikeouts (one of three at-bats) and only 22 walks in 300 plate appearances.
Never mind, the Mets said, Tim Tebow will begin the 2019 campaign with Syracuse, our Triple-A team and if everything goes right, you can expect to see him at Citi Field sometime later this year. Most of us said, “Okay if you say so”.
As baseball fans know, Triple-A Baseball is dotted with former major leaguers trying to make their way back, first-round draft choices in the final stage of their minor league careers, a handful of players destined to ride the shuttle to and from the major league team as fill-ins for injured players, and Tim Tebow.
This is not the local community college – this league is the Harvard of minor league baseball. The game is faster, more complex, and far more competitive when you reach this level. Many make it this far and call it quits. Others, like John Lindsey, spend the next sixteen years of their lives pursuing the dream, before getting a cup of coffee, which Lindsey did in 2010 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, only to realize there is life after baseball and succumbing to retirement.
Tim Tebow Exits Stage Left…
As you might guess by now, the numbers for Tim Tebow are not good this season. He’s hitting below the “Mendoza Line” at .155 with a mere .240 OBP, and only eight extra-base hits in fifty games played at Syracuse.
The love affair with his fans in Syracuse and elsewhere continues to throb as witnessed by the push to elect Tebow to the International League All-Star team despite those numbers.
The effort is there, the desire is still there, everything but the results (are there). Tebow not only looks lost, but he is also lost. Within himself? Who knows at this point?
And I’m sure when I attend Sunday’s game in Syracuse, Tim Tebow will be in the lineup. Just as he has been throughout this painful process. Will I cheer for him? You bet I will, as will nearly all fans in the stands that day.
But as I watch him play that day, there will be an element of sadness in watching the inevitability of a dream that will never come true. There no crying in baseball, we’re not going there. But at the same time, there’s a reason to wonder how this will play out.
If Walt Disney were writing the script, the New York Mets would announce that Tim Tebow will be called up on Sunday, July 7, when the Mets face Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies. In conjunction with that announcement, the Mets advise that ESPN is picking up that game and the time has been moved from a 1:05 p.m. ET start to a 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch.
Tim Tebow will start and play a full nine innings, after which a press conference will be held and Tebow will announce his retirement from professional baseball.
Would Tim Tebow permit himself to be part of such a spectacle? I don’t know. What I do know after seeing him play a month ago in Syracuse, and with a layman’s eye, is he has no business playing baseball at this level.
It’s been a good ride, but it’s also turned into an embarrassment that has to end for both the Mets and Tim Tebow. Take it from here, Tim.