When you’re really good at something, the best course of action isn’t usually to take ten years off from that thing, and then instantly jump back into it at the highest level possible. But that is what Tim Tebow is doing. Tebow last played baseball for his high school in 2006, and he is now attempting to pursue a career as a baseball player, ten years later.
Of course, in between, all Tebow did was put together one of the best college football careers of all time and then follow that with one of the worst NFL careers ever. No really, check it out. It was categorically atrocious.
But that career has ended, and Tebow is back to trying baseball now. After holding a workout last month in front of scouts of 28 MLB teams, he received what can be described as mixed reactions from scouts, at best. Despite this, the Mets went ahead and signed Tebow to a minor-league contract to play for their Florida Instructional League team.
Workouts began last week, and they received quite a bit of attention. He hit a home run in his first swing as a professional in the team’s first game yesterday, and it was a national story. Despite this, the Mets are maintaining that this was not a publicity stunt, and claim that this was entirely a baseball decision. Just be sure to purchase your Tim Tebow Mets merchandise here.
But what if Tebow actually seriously pursued this baseball thing? What if he continued to stick around and made a real attempt at making the MLB? How would it go? Could he made it? Would he be successful? Let’s take to my favorite alternate reality, MLB: The Show, to find out.
How it will work
I will create Tim Tebow in the game, and put him in the Mets’ minor leagues, starting in High-A Port St. Lucie, because that’s the lowest level possible in this video game. I will simulate through Tebow’s entire career, and follow his path until he retires.
It’s important to remember that after I put Tebow on the roster, I controlled nothing. Tebow’s progression as a player, his promotions, and his statistics were in no way influenced by me at all. This is entirely what the computer thinks of Tebow.
Additionally, I will have to start Tebow’s career from the beginning of the 2016 season. I cannot skip a year without him on the roster.
I created Tebow’s skills based entirely off of what the scouting reports thought of him after his first workout. Note the orange compression sleeve in the shadow:
Tebow’s first season (2016)
Tebow begins his first full season with High-A St. Lucie. Unfortunately though, the game does not actually render games for any league below Double-A. There are very few players who are actually listed on A-Ball rosters in this game. So because of the technicality within the video game, Tim Tebow earns his first-ever promotion in Minor League Baseball. On the second day of the season, Tebow is called up to Double-A Binghamton.
Tebow will play his first game for the Binghamton B-Mets. The game attracts national media attention. The stadium is sold out. Fans come in droves from all over to see Tim Tebow play baseball.
Tebow finishes his first game with the B-Mets going 0-for-3 with a walk. An uneventful day all around, but Tebowmania is now alive and well in Binghamton.
In his first season as a professional baseball player, Tebow hits .221/.254/.432 with 16 home runs and 13 steals in 92 games. It’s clear what we have here: basically a faster version Adam Dunn, without the walking ability.
That said, that stat line is merely a .686 OPS against Double-A competition; that’s not very good. It’s hard to see how the organization would justify promoting Tebow after just 92 games in Double-A with underwhelming results.
Tebow’s second season (2017)
Even though he was a below-average, 29-year-old Double-A player, the Mets invite Tebow to major league camp in spring training.
It becomes clear at this time what is happening. The video game realizes what the Mets are doing this for. Lack of success be damned, Tim Tebow in an MLB camp is a tremendous way to sell tickets for spring training games and bring attention to the team. Most players in Tebow’s shoes probably wouldn't be invited to MLB camp, but the monetary value in the name of Tim Tebow is something beyond simple roster construction.
Tebow has no shot at making the team. With Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Curtis Granderson on the team, and with Yoenis Cespedes re-signed, there is less than no room for Tim Tebow at this juncture. Tebow is among the first cuts. And, to everyone’s surprise, he gets sent to Triple-A Las Vegas. Tim Tebow has earned a promotion. He was really not very good in a small amount of games in Double-A, but he gets the call up to Triple-A anyway. The preferential treatment here is quite clear, and it’s getting quite disgusting, really.
Tebow is now a backup outfielder for the Las Vegas 51s. He will serve as a backup to Brandon Nimmo and Justin Ruggiano.
Tebow is clearly overmatched by the superior competition. He finishes the season with a .195/.235/.387 line—good for a .621 OPS—along with 18 homers. Tebow struggled basically all season, but the game still inexplicably improved his rating to a nice overall of 69. The game is now fully in on the fix.
The 51s are eliminated from the playoffs on September 10. On that day, Tim Tebow receives a call. It’s Sandy Alderson. Tim Tebow is being promoted to MLB as a September call-up.
Tim Tebow was maybe the tenth-best player on the Las Vegas 51s. But in just two years as a professional baseball player, Tim Tebow has shot through the Mets’ farm system and made the major leagues. He isn’t even that good. The Mets, at this point, are sitting at 77-66, and are leading the NL East by 6 games over the 71-72 Phillies. They don’t need the distraction that Tebow provides. Why is this happening?
But the Mets don’t care. Against all reason, the New York Mets have made Tim Tebow a Major League Baseball player. Tebow got the call while others more deserving in the organization didn’t. It’s obvious what has happened here. This video game knows what the Mets intentions really are here, and so it reacted accordingly. This game has pushed and promoted Tim Tebow to the major leagues way too quickly just for the publicity. This is what I am left to assume, at least. There is no reason for Tebow to be in the big leagues. But let’s see what he has to offer at the MLB level.
Or maybe we won’t. Despite the headlines and fanfare that the former Florida Gator brings, it becomes clear early on that Terry Collins will not play Tim Tebow once—even as a pinch-runner. He may be the 40th man on the roster, but it’s unusual for September call-ups to be called up and fail to see even one garbage time appearance.
Days and weeks go by, and Tebow can’t see the field at all. The Mets clinch the division, and Terry Collins won’t even let him play in the game after the division clincher. Fans are getting restless, and Collins has to field questions about it every night. Why can’t he just put Tebow in once? Skip Bayless is probably losing his mind somewhere.
All of a sudden, this is starting to closely resemble Tebow’s previous tenure with a New York team. When he was with the Jets, Tebow was basically forced onto Jets coach Rex Ryan by management. Ryan did not have any plans for Tebow in any capacity, so Tebow could not get on the field at all. Even though the Jets were starting the terrible Mark Sanchez at QB and the fans were clamoring for Tebow, Ryan refused to put Tebow in a game.
Now, despite having the division locked up and nothing to play for, Terry Collins refuses to put Tim Tebow in just one game. Even just for the fun of it.
That is, until the second-to-last game of the season. It is on this day that Terry Collins loses it, and gives in to the pressure. Collins decides that this day, October 1, 2017, is the day. This is the day that Tim Tebow will play Major League Baseball. Collins pencils him into the lineup, starting in left field and batting eighth:
Tebowmania is now running wild in New York. It’s happening. Tim Tebow is playing in MLB. Tebow fans everywhere rejoice. And, coincidentally, he will face off against the Atlanta Braves, who were the only other reported team strongly interested in Tebow as a baseball player.
Tebow’s first at-bat comes in the second inning. Here is his full at-bat:
A good battle, but Tebow goes down. It may seem like Tebow is arguing with the umpire afterward, but he’s really just passionately telling him how awesome it is to be in the show. And that last little hand wave may look like Tebow shooing the umpire off, but he’s actually just saying “God bless.”
In his next at-bat, Tebow again works the count full before drawing a walk. By his third at-bat in the seventh inning, the game has gotten out of hand for the Mets; the Braves lead 10-2. Nonetheless, Tebow comes up with a runner on third base with two outs. This at-bat is completely meaningless, as is this game, but don’t question Tebow’s clutch ability in any RBI situation. Tebow knows can bring in a run with a hit. So what does he do? He works the count to 3-2, and then:
Of course, he gets his first major league hit and drives the run in. That’s what Tim Tebow does; he rises to the occasion. Forget the game and situation being completely irrelevant, Tebow gave everyone a thrill. It was his first major league hit. Nobody actually thought he would get here. Tebow once again proved to the world that you don’t need discernible skill or ability, all you need is to be unjustly handed numerous opportunities, and you might be able to show a shred of competency every now and again.
Tebow came to bat one more time in the ninth inning and grounded into a game-ending double play. But that didn’t matter. Tim Tebow got a hit and drove in a run. The prophecy has been fulfilled. Where can he go from here?
The Mets go to the playoffs without Tebow on the playoff roster but still win the World Series:
The Tebow effect is really in full swing here.
Tebow’s third season (2018)
Tebow goes back to Las Vegas for the start of the season, but he is much higher on the depth chart this year. Jay Bruce, Justin Ruggiano, and Curtis Granderson are all out of the organization now and have not been replaced. There’s a chance that Tebow could come in and play in the majors if injury were to strike. And after his clutch RBI single last year, maybe he’s gained some fans in the organization. Maybe Tim Tebow can continue to move up from here.
But injury comes to Tebow instead. He breaks his arm in April,and does not return until mid-July. He finishes the Triple-A season with a .218/.253/.402 line—better than his previous season, but still not good. He hits 15 homers and steals 13 bags in 81 games.
September rolls around, and Tebow is once again a September call-up. And once again, Terry Collins refuses to play him.
Tebow goes the full month of September without making an appearance. It’s the same mess in a different year. The Mets are somehow doing it to themselves again. Tebow’s start last season was a one-off, apparently, and not a changing of the guard. The Mets clinch the playoffs again, and Tebow still won’t even get a courtesy pinch-hit.
Terry Collins, admirer of hard-working minor leaguers and baseball-lifers like himself, really does not appreciate Tim Tebow—definitely not a baseball lifer—being on his major league team,and isn’t hiding his true feelings. He was not persuaded by Tebow’s RBI single last season. Terry Collins does not care about jersey sales, he wants players who will help him win, and he doesn’t feel Tebow is one of them, no matter how much management wants the exposure that he brings. There is clear disconnect in the Mets organization.
The season ends, and Tebow doesn’t get even one mere appearance. This may be the most Mets way to have handled this. Leave it to the Mets to turn this Tebow experiment into yet another Tebow embarrassment for a New York team.
Tebow’s fourth season (2019)
Tebow, now 32 years old, goes back to Las Vegas as the full-time left fielder. He hits .201/.239/.348 with 17 home runs and 23 stolen bases. His .587 OPS is the lowest he has put up at any level in his career. Given the lack of depth in the organization, though, it appears as if Tebow is in line for another September call-up and another chance at the big leagues. Maybe this is the year he can win over Terry Collins, who is somehow still managing the Mets in 2019. But Tebow fractures his wrist at the end of August. He is done for the year and misses September call-ups.
Tebow’s fifth season (2020)
Tebow once again gets cut from the team in spring training and is sent down to Triple-A. But since Tebow has burned through his three option years, he must pass through waivers in order to be demoted. And he does. Despite his clutch, irrelevant RBI single in a game three years ago, no other team wants Tim Tebow.
Now 33, Tebow hits just .173/.214/.344 for Las Vegas. He’s starting to fall farther on the depth chart, and he’s now behind Mark Krauss in Triple-A. Despite that, he’s still on the 40-man roster, and could still conceivably be called up in September. Maybe he can get one more chance to win a major league job. Or maybe he can at least hit a major league home run.
But he breaks his leg in July and misses the rest of the season. Tebow misses September call-ups for the second-straight year, and misses one more chance at the show.
Tebow’s sixth season (2021)
Tebow is once again invited to MLB camp, for the fourth straight year. And for the fourth straight year, Tebow is cut. But this is the final time. After he is cut, Tim Tebow is granted his release from the New York Mets organization.
It has been four years since Tebow’s big chance in the spotlight. He spends the season searching for a team who could give him one more day in the sun; one more chance at the big league life. He’s made it before, and he thinks he can do it again, even now at 34-years-old. But he has no takers. Tebow works out for a few teams, but winds up spending the whole season as a free agent. Nobody wants Tim Tebow.
This is now a painful mirror to his NFL career. He was pushed to the top and forced upon people who didn’t want him there, and after multiple failures and a few brief successes, can’t find any way back into the limelight for several years before fading off into the distance, unwanted and unvalued.
After the season, the list of retirees is released.
Tim Tebow has retired from professional baseball at the age of 34. He finishes his MLB career with a stat line of 1-for-3 (.333 average) with one walk, one RBI, no runs scored, and no home runs.
But he lasted longer than anyone thought he would. He hit more home runs for the Las Vegas 51s than anyone else over that four-year span. He made Major League Baseball, even if he didn’t deserve it. He got a major league hit, and it drove a run in. He still found a way to prove doubters wrong and made the Mets a heck of a lot of money in the process. That means something. Especially the money part. No really, the Mets are eternally grateful for the money part.
So that’s what MLB: The Show thinks will happen if Tim Tebow seriously pursues an MLB career. It will be an oddly poetic, controversial, and painfully ironic career with injuries, struggles, probable collusion, and a painful, disappointing ending. It was certainly something.