Tim Tebow! There are many things to be said about Tebow, like the fact that he is a gifted athlete, was an amazing college football player, a devoted Christian, decent commentator, a true competitor, terrific role model and an incredible individual. That last one is my own personal opinion of the individual that Tebow portrays with his charity work, overall demeanor both on and off the field and from the numerous reports that are out there about who he is as a person. I can not elaborate on it much more than that as I have never met him. All that said, Tebow has a long way to go before he can be considered a quality baseball player. He has the tools and the attitude, but he simply lacks the experience and sadly, his name and fame will provide him opportunities, yet limited time to achieve success.
Before we jump into this year’s MLB Spring Training, let us quickly analyze his NFL career. If we are honest, Tebow was drafted higher than he should have been by all accounts. He needed time to develop his passing accuracy, timing routes in particular, and adjust to the speed and brutality of the NFL while learning the game behind a veteran quarterback. That is the case for most rookie quarterbacks joining the NFL, with the exception of those with a more polished passing skill set. Unfortunately for Tebow, he was drafted in the first round, which means the fans/organization believe you need to start soon, and was placed behind a subpar quarterback who was more fill-in than the actual starting material. Sadly, Tebow’s college fame led to fans booing the current starting quarterback after the team had a dreadful start and led to the organization making the call to toss him into the fire. By all accounts, Tebow played like a rookie, albeit with some typical Tebow heroics. The Denver Broncos made the playoffs in large part because they had a fantastic defense, but Tebow did his part to the best of his ability as a rookie. That playoff game was not amazing, in terms of Tebow’s overall play; however, when the game was on the line in overtime, Tebow showed just why certain teams/coaches thought he could make it in the NFL. He hit Thomas on a deep crossing route which Thomas took to the end zone, giving the Broncos and Tebow a playoff victory over the Steelers. After that game, the Broncos were embarrassed on both sides of the ball by the Patriots, typical of a Belichick-coached team against rookie quarterbacks. Also, just like usual, the quarterback took the most flack for the loss and people began to question Tebow’s ability to play the position. Remove the name “Tebow” from the scenario and replay the season and you’ll get a different reaction from the critics, of this I’m pretty certain.
So, this leads me into this year’s Spring Training. The New York Mets gave Tebow a shot at spring training after a disappointing appearance on their minor league squad, even with the fact that Tebow had not played baseball for numerous years prior to the experiment. The scouts admitted that Tebow had the tools (strong arm, power to all fields, great conditioning & heart, and positive attitude), but he was very green and needed time to develop. Sure, there are tons of players who would love the opportunity to play baseball in the minors little alone the big leagues. So, it goes without saying that the Tebow legend helped earn him a spot slightly ahead of the others, but that is no reason to hate the man. He did not force his way onto a team, he simply tried to earn a spot and the team gave him the opportunity. That is all! As expected, Tebow has not played well in Spring Training against mediocre level pitching. The Tebow critics harp on this and say that he is a joke and this was all a publicity stunt by both him and the team. While I can agree that the Mets organization has likely used Tebow as a cash cow, Tebow himself appears to be very serious about the process. He, like so many others, wants to play baseball. As it sits, Tebow is 0-7 at the plate with 3 strikeouts. Now, I do not keep up with sports to the level that I used to, yet I can type in any sports website and that will be a headline. There are numerous other players who have gone hitless or close to it this spring. Dee Gordon, a 6-year pro and starting second baseman for the Miami Marlins, is currently sitting on a .143 batting average so far this spring, as is Jason Werth of the Washington Nationals. These are seasoned MLB pros, yet they have not gotten into a groove yet this spring even though they have had just as many plate appearances as Tebow.
There are also numerous other players out there who are struggling, pro’s or not, and there are many young players who are shining as well. The problem is the press and the fans! The pressure for a household name like Tebow is immense. Remove the Tebow name, and it becomes a non-story and likely the player in question will get a chance to continue improving in the lower ranks until their name is called. I would be surprised if Tebow gets that chance being as how the baseball critics, veterans and even some coaches are already piling on. If this were just another guy with the right tools, they would not be calling the guy a clown or a sideshow, they would say that he was simply green and needed more at-bats, but the potential was there. I truly hope that Tebow continues to pursue the sport for a few different reasons. First, he is a talented player with a firm determination to succeed, so if he continues to strive for improvement he can get there. That is something I wish for everyone. Second, I want to see him beat the odds and prove the critics wrong. It will be an uphill battle as he has, what I expect to be, a more limited window than some other players due to his fame. Lastly, Tebow is the kind of player that I would want my future children to see as a role model, aside from family of course. The sports entertainment industry is filled with individuals who do not necessarily fit the criteria of an ideal role model. Honestly, many probably do not wish to be seen that way, yet their celebrity has catapulted them into the position nonetheless. The world has enough successful athletes who have failed at being a role model; it is high time the sports world gets a role model of quality, like Tebow.
If not, at least there is still Mike Trout!