Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mets Signing Tebow, A Nightmare Comes to Life

Leave it to the New York Mets to take away from the teams surprising wild card run by breaking a story that leaves everyone scratching their heads.

Yes, the Mets signed Tim Tebow. No, this is not a joke. This is a meme come to life. The New York Mets actually signed former NFL flameout Tim Tebow to the instructional league.

While signing and playing in instructional baseball doesn't necessarily guarantee an invite to minor league spring training next year, the fact that the Mets felt the need to jump in and sign a guy who hasn't played professional baseball since high school, and a guy who is using baseball as a "career change" more than anything else is an slap in the face at those who have been trying for years to get to the big leagues.

Don't worry this is not going to be a rant by an angry Mets fan. I am not angry at Tim Tebow, the person, who I thought got screwed over by the New York Jets a couple years ago in the Sanchez-Tebow fiasco of 2012. Tebow is a good guy by all accounts.

Let me give you a little perspective.

The road to the Major Leagues for a player is a process, paved with the slings and arrows of great joy and utter disappointment. It takes years of dedication to the game to make the "dream" come true.

Baseball players as young as 17-years-old begin their baseball journey, sometimes skipping out on college in order for a shot at the big show.  They will get drafted or sign with an affiliate, ride the bus through rookie ball, and if they are good, advance through the minor league system. They will face the thrill of being promoted to Single-A, Advanced-A, Double-A, etc. They might even see the disappointment of being demoted from Double-A to Single-A. Some will even get released.

Those that get released will, if they still have the desire and financial wherewithal, sign on with an independent league franchise with the hopes of wooing scouts so they get picked up again. It's not easy.

Let me give you more insight. I work for the New Jersey Jackals, an independent minor league baseball team located in Montclair, New Jersey. In my four years as broadcaster of the team, I have seen a lot of really good players come through the Can-Am League that either fell through the cracks, or are looking for the their first shot. In my time, only two guys that I have covered have made it to the Major Leagues, Tim Adleman (Jackals) and Stephen Cardullo (Boulders).

Adleman was the Jackals closer in 2013. He saved 10 games, and had an ERA of 1.45. More importantly he was a good kid, with a good education at Georgetown. His efforts in New Jersey got him noticed by the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the '13 season. Some three years after he first reported for Jackals spring training in 2013, Adleman was a on a Major League mound with the Reds on a cloudy May 1 afternoon against the Pirates. He is now 2-3 with a 4.02 ERA in eight starts at the Big League level. Heck the guy shutout the playoff-bound Dodgers a few weeks ago.

Cardullo, who was a Jackal nemesis for three seasons in Rockland, is now a Colorado Rockies infielder. He is killing the baseball right now, hitting .333 with two homers and five RBI in 10 games at the big league level. This was a guy who spent four years in Indy ball with no guarantee he'd ever get even a Single-A invite.

There is something about going through the process of becoming a major league player that Tebow probably doesn't understand, and if he thinks he does, will quickly find out. It's about going out there and earning it. Tebow's goal is to make a major league roster, period.  He should get in line, because it is stretches as the day is long.

The scouting reports on Tebow weren't glowing. He's 29-years-old, hasn't played baseball in over a generation, and is only doing this because he wants to be a major leaguer now at this stage of his life. Scouts use a 20-to-80 grade scale on players, and Tebow was below average to mediocre in run, arm, and glove mechanics. "He has the physical tools to suggest he could make it as a professional athlete, but he has certain (rather significant) shortcomings that figure to limit his success at the highest level," (NESN, Aug. 31).

With scouting reports like that, one has to wonder what the Mets were thinking? This team could use help at catcher, first base, third base, even outfield. Signing Tim Tebow does none of that. The sad part is, signing Tebow likely cost a guy who has been paying his dues a chance at a job. That is the biggest crime of all.

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