How long can we keep ignoring that this is an embarrassment?
You might have heard that Tim Tebow hit a single Tuesday afternoon in Arizona, where he’s playing in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. It was his first hit of the campaign — a “line drive” single to left field, breaking a 0-for-14 stretch to start his professional baseball career.
Four teams are playing for the pennant — all four have a chance to break decades-long (or century-long) droughts in the World Series, but one of the biggest stories in baseball yesterday was about a washed-up NFL player.
How far has the national pastime fallen?
The Arizona Fall League has many of the top prospects in baseball playing this season — Red Sox uberprospect Yoan Moncada has a 1.032 OPS in his 18 at-bats; Bradley Zimmer, who will probably be the Indians’ starting centerfielder next year, has a 1.056 OPS in his 18 plate appearances; and 19-year-old Gleyber Torres, the centerpiece of the Cubs’ deal with the Yankees to get Aroldis Chapman and arguably the Yanks’ top prospect, is tearing the league up, posting a gaudy 1.399 OPS in his first four games.
The AFL is a proving ground for the future of baseball — a chance for the top prospects in double and triple-A to go up against comparable peers and see where they stack up. This league is not a joke.
Well, it wasn’t until Tebow arrived.
To play Tebow against the best young players in baseball is so cruel and unfair it makes you wonder if it’s an elaborate practical joke. Who thought he would be able to stack up against these players? Did some member of the Mets' front office want to pay Tebow $100,000 to become a laughingstock?
It’s time to call this whole charade off. It's embarrassing now: embarrassing to the New York Mets, embarrassing to the Arizona Fall League, embarrassing to the hardcore fans of Major League Baseball, and one would hope embarrassing to Tebow.
Someone needs to end this publicity stunt — now.
There’s no hope this thing turns around. Scouts — given no choice but to evaluate this out-of-place media member— have been turning in scathing reports about Tebow’s long swing, poor fielding, and bad pitch recognition.
ESPN's Keith Law laid to waste his co-worker in one of the best pieces of prospect journalism ever produced. Law's prose read more like an existential crisis than a scouting report.
So what is he doing playing in an All-Star prospects league?
“Tebow has never played professional baseball” someone will surely say in an effort to defend him for some unknown reason (cults are weird), “Of course he’s struggling!"
That argument gets to the heart of the farce. I have also never played professional baseball — I probably couldn’t hit a single in the Arizona Fall League, but I’m not totally willing to totally write that off yet — I’ve run into one going 90 at the batting cages before. It’s more luck than anything, but it was contact, nonetheless.
If I played in the Arizona Fall League and went 1-for-16 with seven strikeouts, two walks, and that gaudy .063 slugging percentage, there would be an outrage.
“What is this FOX guy doing up there? This is an embarrassment! He’s just using his media status to do… what exactly? Does he have a book coming out? You gotta get that guy out of there and let someone who actually plays baseball for a living get a shot."
Those criticisms would be absolutely correct.
The same logic absolutely applies to Tebow, who didn't leave his job with ESPN to pursue his baseball dream and does, in fact, have a new book coming out next week.
This whole thing was a publicity stunt, and right now it’s driving the wrong kind of publicity for all parties involved. It’s tarnishing the reputation of the Mets, who left a top prospect at home so that a bad professional quarterback could get in some cuts in Scottsdale, and it’s embarrassing to Major League Baseball, whose showcase league has now turned into a sideshow.
But searches for “Tim Tebow” are up, and his new book is getting plenty of preseales on Amazon — though those two things couldn’t possibly be connected…
The jig is up. Call it a loss and move on, Tim. You got your shot, failed, and made some money from it, too. There are players deserving of your spot in the AFL, and the unselfish thing to do would be to step aside and let them have it.