So Tim Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy Award-winning and NFL quarterback, is trying to make a comeback.
As a baseball player?
He’ll be 29 this month. He hasn’t played since he was a junior in high school – and was a very good prep player – in Florida.
There are lots of really good prep players from Florida who have been drafted, toiled in the minors and never made it to the majors.
And they didn’t have an 11-plus-year respite from facing quality pitching.
Multiple reports say that Tebow, presumably an outfielder, is going to hold a showcase later this month. No official word if the Orioles will be there, but executive vice president Dan Duquette is known for turning over every last rock for potential players.
Tebow does have a tenuous connection to the Orioles; he reportedly has been working out for months with Chad Moeller at the former Oriole catcher’s baseball academy in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Moeller was one of the brightest, most-articulate guys I’ve ever covered. I always thought he’d end up in a front office somewhere.
Moeller has been quoted as saying Tebow, “has the skill set and potential to achieve his goal of playing in the Major Leagues.”
So there’s that. And maybe Tebow does. But I can’t stress how much of a longshot this is. Baseball is the hardest game in the world to master; the odds of taking more than a decade off and then getting to the top level of the sport in your 30s are, frankly, almost insurmountable.
Jim Morris did it and they made a Disney movie about him; but that doesn’t really count, because he was a left-handed pitcher. They have more lives than cats.
Sure, Tebow has defied the odds before. But that was as a football player – while playing FOOTBALL.
We all know about all-world basketball player Michael Jordan’s attempt (a .202 average in Double-A Birmingham in 127 games as a 31-year-old) to play pro baseball in 1994. Former NBA All Star Tracy McGrady tried it in 2014 at 35, posting a 6.75 ERA in four starts as a pitcher for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.
Yes, there have been some two-sport athletes who have made the majors. But none have had such a layoff as Tebow. Deion Sanders was in the majors at 21, a year after he was drafted by the New York Yankees out of college. While excelling in the NFL, Sanders spent parts of nine seasons in the majors – but most of that time was before his 30th birthday.
Milford Mill’s Brian Jordan was drafted in the first round of the 1988 draft out of college and played minor league baseball and pro football simultaneously for three seasons before carving out a 15-year, big league career as an outfielder.
It can be done, but not if you haven’t played the sport for nearly a dozen years.
I don’t begrudge Tebow for wanting to try it, but it’s laughable that some believe he has a chance to make it to the majors. The game is too hard. The layoff too long. The advancing age and inexperience too formidable to overcome.
Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said as much today on Twitter — facetiously and without mentioning Tebow by name:
— 10 (@SimplyAJ10) August 9, 2016
It sounds outlandish. Because it is. For Jones, who was clearly being tongue-in-cheek, and for Tebow, who apparently is being serious.