Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hold the jokes. For now.

And so the jokes will begin, because this is what we do now. We love our cliff divers, apparently. It's why we build such lofty pedestals for guys like Tim Tebow, because the free falls are always so spectacular.

He never had the skill set to be an NFL quarterback, most of us knew it, and so we waited out Tebow Mania, waited and waited, until at last he wound up a fourth-string quarterback in Philadelphia. Couldn't even beat out Matt Barkley, for heaven's sake. Which is as spectacular a free-fall as exists.

And now?

Now he's going to give baseball a try.  Cue the Michael-Jordan-suing-for-copyright-infringement jokes, the so-this-is-why-A-Rod-is-quitting jokes, the well-at-least-no-one-will-block-the-plate-on-him jokes.

Here's the thing though: Smarter people than we are think he has a shot at this.

True, Tebow hasn't played baseball since his junior year in high school 12 years ago, but he batted almost .500 that year and was good enough that the Angels actually tried to convince him to choose baseball over football. He was, and remains, a superior athlete. In fact, he's always been more of an athlete than a quarterback; had he been amenable to the idea, he might still be playing in the NFL today as an H-back or a tight end. His size and athleticism pretty much made him the prototype for those positions.

So maybe the jokes are a trifle premature.

"He had a strong arm and had a lot of power. If he would have been there his senior year he definitely would have had a good chance to be drafted," Red Sox scout Stephen Hargett recalled on WEEI radio in Boston. "He had leverage to his swing. He had some natural loft. He had some good power. He was a good athlete. He had enough arm for that position. He was a left-handed hitter with strength and some size." 
Does that mean he's going to wind up in the major leagues?
Probably not. He is, after all, 28 years old. No matter how much potential he shows, he'll likely be starting in low-A, high-A at best. You don't see many 28-year-olds at that level, even if they're Tim Tebow. Most of the players at that level will be close to a decade younger, and, even if Tebow's a superior talent, whatever organization he's with is going to look at the kids as a better investment long term. There's simply more upside to a 19-year-old with skills than someone who, best case, is going to be 30 years old at least before he gets to the big club.

Which isn't to say it couldn't happen. So hold the jokes for now. 

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