Tim Tebow wowed us as a college football player while winning two NCAA national championships at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
He wowed us when he led the Denver Broncos as their quarterback on a miraculous late-season run in 2011 that included an improbable overtime playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He has wowed us throughout his life with his unrivaled passion to his faith, which he openly wears on his sleeve despite his critics.
And right now, Tebow is wowing us again, but this time on the baseball diamond.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now – especially given the nonstop ESPN coverage – but Tim Tebow is currently an outfielder in the New York Mets minor league system. He began this season in Single-A for the Columbia Fireflies and is now suiting up for the Advanced Single-A St. Lucie Mets.
So what’s prompting me to write about Tebow at this point? To be honest, I’m a bit annoyed by how all the baseball pundits out there are saying Tebow will never make the Mets’ Major League roster.
My response to them: Who cares!
Right now, Tebow is pursuing a lifelong dream, and we should be saluting him rather than detracting from his accomplishments. He actually played baseball while being homeschooled in high school, and it’s been amazing to see how he has reintegrated himself into the game after a long hiatus.
I’ll be the first to admit that things didn’t get off to such a peachy start for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Tebow. He struggled through several appearances in Spring Training for the Mets and was only hitting .220 with three home runs and 23 RBIs in 64 games at the time of his promotion.
Not exactly helping his cause was Mets general manager Sandy Alderson basically admitting that he signed Tebow partly for his celebrity status, telling Newsday that baseball is an “entertainment business.”
However, since his call-up, Tebow has been on fire. He already has more home runs than he hit in Columbia in far fewer games – including a memorable walkoff blast during his first game with his new club. He’s also striking out at a lesser rate and has a higher on-base percentage.
Meanwhile, detractors can’t seem to get enough of bashing him. Recent reports have suggested that Tebow won’t be among the Mets’ September call-ups this season.
I’m a huge Mets fan – as I’m sure you know by now if you’ve followed this column – but I can’t think of any prospect that was called up to the big leagues after just one full season in the minor leagues.
Fun fact: The last MLB player to completely skip the minor leagues altogether was right-handed pitcher Mike Leake, who in 2010 made his debut with the Cincinnati Reds after being drafted in 2009.
So it’s downright unfair to think Tebow can miraculously make the jump to the big leagues in just one season.
And here’s the kicker: If Tim Tebow never steps foot on a Major League field, his baseball career – at least in my opinion – will still be considered a success.
Just because an athlete excels in one sport doesn’t mean he or she automatically has what it takes in another sport. The list of athletes in particular that have played both baseball and football professionally is miniscule, with Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan being the most recognizable names of the modern era.
I may be biased, but to me, baseball is the hardest of the four major sports – but granted, skating around on a sheet of ice chasing around a black piece of rubber is a close second. The hand-eye coordination and focus it takes to play the game properly are second to none.
So for Tebow to have even gotten this far already is truly a matter of divine intervention, and he’d be the first to agree. No matter where his baseball career takes him, he’ll know that he gave it his all each day.
That’s really all we can ask of professional athletes. Can you honestly say you gave everything you had every single day of your career?
For Tebow, the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes,” in both football and baseball.
Whether his baseball career ends tomorrow or 10 years from now, I hope Tebow’s legacy on the diamond is as a player who persevered despite the criticism. And in just a short sample, he’s well on his way.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.