He has done the Arizona Fall League alongside many actual prospects. He has done (part of) spring training against (some of) the big boys (going four for 17 at the plate). Before that, he last played in high school, over a decade ago. With that resume at their disposal, the New York Mets announced on Monday that the Tim Tebow professional baseball experiment will advance to the minor leagues. Specifically, the club's Class A affiliate in Columbia, South Carolina.
Tebow's going from Florida to Columbia, just like the Old Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier! What could possibly go wrong? While Spurrier never coached Tebow himself, the Gators experience connects the two all the same. And based on how Tebow has performed on the diamond, it's hard to see how his baseball career would expand beyond South Carolina—much like Spurrier, who coached there for ten-plus years before retiring.
Actually, if Tebow spent years playing baseball anywhere, it would be quite an accomplishment. He turns 30 in August, and is 23 for 127 with 27 total bases in his career, between stints in the AFL and Grapefruit League. With such an anemic output at bat, Tebow would have to be Kevin Kiermaier, or Kevin Pillar, or Kevin from Minions on defense to make himself valuable enough to even consider. And he's no Kevin.
He's also no Michael Jordan, who at 31 in 1994 went to Class AA for the White Sox straight out of the NBA Finals and batted .202/.289/.266 (with 30 stolen bases!). Did Jordan really earn his spot on the Birmingham Barons bus? Maybe not, but at least Jordan three-peated in another sport twice!
This graphic makes it seem like Tebow is Peter Pan and Tinkerbell is helping him realize his dream of playing professional baseball. And that's probably the best explanation for this whole thing, which—you might have guessed—is a publicity stunt. That's fine, as long as you ignore the relatively pitiful working conditions for minor leaguers and everything else that's wrong with the Mets' obsession with giving Tebow a chance. Perhaps his presence will boost attendance for the Columbia Fireflies. Good for minor league baseball, and good for baseball at large, not that the players will ever benefit.
And who knows? Maybe Tebow will surprise us. Although his time there is not widely remembered that fondly, Spurrier did OK at South Carolina. He won nearly 64 percent of his games, went 5-4 in bowls, and finished in the AP top ten three times. Of course, Spurrier came in with football coaching cred. Tebow has very little baseball cred. Closer to baseball crud.