All signs were pointing to this September being the time when former college and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow would make his Major League debut with the New York Mets.
Tebow has been advancing through the team’s a minor league system the past few years and turned in an impressive 2018 campaign, hitting .273 with six home runs in 84 games for the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
Additionally, Tebow’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, was named Mets general manager prior to this season, adding to the speculation that “Tebow Time” would soon arrive in Flushing.
What was once considered merely a publicity stunt had the makings of coming to fruition — even if it were just a September call-up for Tebow if the Mets dropped out of contention late in the season.
Unfortunately, though, things haven’t worked out this year for Tebow. Through his first 77 games for the Triple-A affiliate Syracuse Mets, he batted .163 with 98 strikeouts in 239 at-bats.
To make matters worse, he recently suffered a laceration on his left hand — his throwing hand — while fielding a ball in the outfield, and it’s unclear when he will return, marking the second-straight season he’s had an injury that’s caused him to miss significant time.
That begs the question: Has the Tim Tebow baseball experiment run its course?
I hate to say this, but I believe it has. Don’t get me wrong: I commend Tebow for even getting this far. He silenced his critics by reaching Triple-A — one step away from a Major League Baseball roster.
That’s pretty darn good for an athlete who picked up baseball again only three years ago. He had last played in high school.
At this point, though, the soon-to-be 32-year-old is clogging up a roster spot on a team that already lacks minor league depth. The Triple-A level is typically reserved for players who can fill in adequately at short notice if the parent team experiences an injury.
Given his struggles this season, I’m not too confident Tebow would have been able to do that against big-league pitching. He gave it his best shot, and for that, we should all respect his effort.
Listen, this game is extremely hard when you’ve played it your whole life. Imagine taking years off while playing college and NFL football and then trying to pick it up again. It’s not easy.
Right from the start, the odds were against Tebow. Many felt he would never advance past Single-A, let alone make it all the way to Triple-A. Despite his foot speed, he didn’t exactly fit the mold of a professional baseball outfielder, because his upper body strength took away from his agility, which is necessary for any outfielder.
In fact, it was that same upper body strength that made NFL teams shy away from giving him another chance to play quarterback. Sure, he had some success with the Denver Broncos and racked up the rushing yards, but throwing deep downfield was never his game.
The former Heisman trophy winner won games in college and the NFL because of his grit, determination, passion and ability to motivate his teammates. Those same character traits also helped him improve on the baseball diamond.
If this season happens to be Tebow’s last, he’ll be able to hang his hat proudly, knowing he did all he could to achieve his dream. No one will ever question his work ethic, despite the results not always being there.
Still, Tebow clubbed 18 professional home runs over the course of three seasons. That’s way more than thousands upon thousands of fellow minor leaguers hit. That’s also way more than most, if not all, former NFL quarterbacks have ever hit.
Instead of receiving a call-up to the Mets, Tebow will spend his September enjoying his other passion: serving as a college football analyst for ESPN. He’ll also continue his great charitable work through the Tim Tebow Foundation.
Though he would consider not making the big leagues a disappointment given his ultra-competitive nature, he still took great strides on what has appeared to be an impossible journey.
Remember, though, nothing is impossible with God — and let’s be real: God is definitely a Tim Tebow fan!
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.