PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Detached, unvarnished opinion is hard to come by when the subject is Tim Tebow, who despite the unsullied reputation still drives people to fits of extremism.
Some can’t get enough of his unflinching goodness. Others just want him to go away.
For that very reason, I just consider him good for business.
I hope he never stops trying to play some sort of game.
Were it possible to simply take Tebow at face value, then his current quest to remake himself into a baseball player of major league quality would go undetected. There are dozens of players in this one camp more suited to play right now than that guy (although none look more the part just standing around in a uniform).
There is very little reason to believe he will be anything but an oddity in his second sport. You know, the one he put down in high school to become famous as the resourcefully athletic but aesthetically disturbing quarterback (good enough somehow to win a Heisman and an NFL playoff game). Tebow’s second spring training appearance Friday did nothing to dispel that belief.
But, of course, we can’t ignore the quirky career change. He is Tim Tebow. He has been a part of public debate so long that we have forgotten how to just quietly appraise him.
For instance, why anyone would be bothered or offended by his presence as a New York Met is puzzling. Yet I suspect some of you are.
It is audacious what he is doing, trying at 29 to pick up a game that requires years of repetition to simply become functional. Obviously, being famous and marketable – what other non-roster player has his $120 souvenir jersey for sale in the stadium shop – opened the door for him. But that’s not going to protect him from the athletic humiliation he has found and will continue to find him on this foreign field.
Baseball has humbled better athletes. During his brief flirtation with the game, Michael Jordan told the New York Times, “It’s been embarrassing, it’s been frustrating, it can make you mad. I don’t remember the last time I had all those feelings at once.”
If Tebow makes the occasional spring training appearance in a split squad game – with the Mets roster further drained by the World Baseball Classic – what’s the harm? It is on the back fields and in the bushes where he’ll rise or fall. If he chooses to tilt at that windmill when there are other so many other enriching career opportunities out there for him just being Tim Tebow – well, I dare say I find this almost admirable.
In the meantime the Mets are profiting off his presence, more so than they would from any other guy who would have played Friday in a No. 97 jersey with no name on the back.
Think what you will about Tebow’s detour into baseball. But you can’t deny he keeps things interesting.