All I have read this last week is how Tim Tebow is taking away meaningful at-bats away from true aspiring Minor Leaguer’s. It’s a publicity stunt! David Cone, 5-time World Series champion, Cy Young Award winning pitcher and ex-Met has been quoted saying,
“I’ve always been an old-school guy, you’ve gotta earn your spot. And he’s getting at bats that somebody else would die for. I had so many minor-league buddies that I came up through the system with that never got that one at bat in a major-league spring training game. A lot of my buddies died on the vine.”
Well, David, there is this thing going on called the World Baseball Classic! It is where all MLB teams, including the New York Mets who have six players represented, are short players at camp. It’s a pretty safe bet Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes are safe and there is such a thing as split-squad games in spring training. Up-and-coming minor leaguers for the Mets such as Brandon Nimmo (injured hamstring in World Baseball Classic) and Wuilmer Becerra (who played last Saturday in a 6-0 loss to the Nats) are not forfeiting their jobs or futures because of Tebow. Heck, he made a pretty nifty catch, praised by Thor himself per The New York Post, “That was awesome,” Syndergaard said. “The guy is a tremendous athlete.”
I don’t remember this uproar when Michael Jordan went to play for the Chicago White Sox in spring training games in 1994. You might remember that stint between 3-peat bookend performances in the NBA. My most vivid memory of Jordan with the White Sox was the stint in the movie Space Jam. If you’re worried about Tebow affecting minor league growth, you can and should make a claim that’s exactly what Jordan did playing in a 127-games for the Double-A affiliate Birmingham Barons. Let’s be realistic, in all fairness to his “Airness”, Tebow is a better outfielder than Jordan. Never thought you’d hear that in a sentence did you? No one worried about the White Sox farm system then, nor should anyone worry about the Mets now.
While I don’t know if I would categorize the Jordan era for the White Sox a publicity stunt, as they were coming off a year where they just lost in the ALCS to the World Series Champions Toronto Blue Jays, it definitely was a media circus.
“We had more media here, I was told, than what would cover a Super Bowl or a papal visit. We had 55 cameras, over 300 print media and 13 satellite trucks. — Pat Calhoon”
Why would an organization like the White Sox, who just finished first in their division with hopes to do the same the following year, do this? Publicity. It’s a name people recognize, raises curiosity, bring fans to the stadium. If the organization is not worried, both in the case of the White Sox then and the Mets now, why should we care?
— MLB (@MLB) March 13, 2021
If you want a publicity stunt, I’ll give you a publicity stunt. Will Ferrell, who took Spring Training by storm, essentially the epitome of exhibition in 2015. His claim was to raise money for cancer (noble cause) while promoting his then movie, Get Hard. He played for 10-different teams. No one was up in arms for interrupting the flow. As of matter of fact, players and teams alike were excited and fascinated and why not, it’s Spring Training.
— Jon Lester (@JLester34) March 12, 2021
— Oakland A’s 🌳🐘⚾️ (@Athletics) March 12, 2021
Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching Ferrell play even though he is no Mike Trout. It was entertaining. But this nonsense that Tebow, who is actually willing to take coaching and give his all is being flogged for just trying to live a dream, to play professional sports is ridiculous. Now, I will admit he has a 1-in-10,000 shot, infinitesimal even, of making the big leagues. The thing that plagued him in the NFL plagues him in MLB, his accuracy.
Tim Tebow and Yoenis Cespedes are playing catch together right now on the main field. Tebow has airmailed him multiple times. #Mets
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 10, 2021
I’d prefer to say he’s an underdog, a huge, even epic underdog but everyone roots for an underdog at one time or another.
“He’s an underdog right now, probably for the first time in his whole life. People root for underdogs and want him to do well and we do too.” - Terry Collins
Speaking of rooting for underdogs:
- Miracle on Ice
- Super Bowl XXXVI: The New England Patriots (before all their success) versus the Greatest Show on Turf
- Buster Douglas versus Mike Tyson
- Holly Holm versus Ronda Rousey
- Leicester City last year
- The Miracle Mets
People want to see the impossible happen, it is part of the allure of sports. Okay, so this borders more on the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl in the next decade kind of odds! But it doesn’t lose games for the Mets. No Harm. No Foul. Give the guy his day! Enjoy the moment and root for the underdog.
Terry Collins is with me.