Four things we learned about Florida’s Tim Tebow switching from football to baseball

By Adam Silverstein
May 4, 2017
Four things we learned about Florida’s Tim Tebow switching from football to baseball

Image Credit: Columbia Fireflies

The decision to basically retire from football and start playing baseball for the first time since high school was a curious one for former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow.

Whether you believe Tebow was a victim of a lack of belief in NFL circles or had plenty of opportunities to succeed in the league and failed, most could agree that he was doing just fine in his role as an analyst on SEC Network. But Tebow wanted more.

In the first full-length feature on Tebow since his foray into hardball, The MMQB’s Tim Rohan uncovered a few new nuggets about the headline-making New York Mets outfielder.

1. Tebow has a “circle of trust:” This probably comes as no surprise, but every aspect of Tebow’s professional career is being intricately managed. So much so that meetings are held every time a major decision needs to be made with a “circle of trust” — a reference from “Meet the Parents” about a group of people in the know about confidential material — that goes over the options in painstaking detail. Such was the case when Tebow decided to play baseball during a meeting with his agents.

They went around the room throwing out ideas. What about movies? Politics? Books? Someone even suggested that he lead a religious crusade of sorts, traveling the country with pastors and musicians, putting on speaking events and preaching the word of God. … During a break in conversation, he finally spoke up. What if I tried playing baseball, he asked, and his heart leapt a little. … A few moments later, they had Brodie Van Wagenen, the co-head of CAA’s baseball division, in the room.

2. Mat 27:35: It was relatively shocking that a biblical reference wasn’t made in this feature when it was revealed that Tebow, while being tested by Van Wagenen to see if he actually had even an outside chance at succeeding at playing baseball, worked so hard at swinging the bat and ripped his hands so raw that he began gushing blood that seeped through his batting gloves.

Van Wagenen humored him. He organized a workout for Tebow in Florida alongside a few Cuban prospects, and after putting Tebow through a series of hitting drills, he came away … impressed. Tebow’s swing clearly needed work, but when he connected, he could really drive the ball. After watching a few drills, Van Wagenen asked Tebow if he wanted to stop. He had seen enough, and Tebow hadn’t swung in a while; his hands must have been sore. But Tebow shook him off and kept swinging. He would show Van Wagenen how badly he wanted this. Not until the workout ended did Van Wagenen notice the red seeping through Tebow’s batting gloves. He had taken so many swings that blisters on his hands had burst open, and he’d just kept going. Tebow peeled off the gloves. Blood was gushing from his palms.

3. Tebow was injured going into his open workout: Entering his workout in front of more than 100 people — half MLB scouts, half media — Tebow tore his left oblique. He still went out and ran a 6.7-second 60-yard dash, though he struggled to run down balls in the outfield. Nevertheless, Tebow mashed eight home runs in batting practice before going up against legitimate pitchers.

4. The Mets signed Tebow for the right reasons: New York general manager Sandy Alderson explained that he signed Tebow both due to his raw talent and the sideshow that comes with him, noting that he was someone who would help “expand” the Mets brand. He felt confident the team could deal with the added attention because it was mostly positive, even if there were detractors to Tebow being given such an opportunity. Tebow got a $100,000 bonus for signing with the team, and Alderson was honest about the overall decision. “Would we have done it without the celebrity element? Probably not. … So?”

In his first stint in the minors, Tebow is batting .232 with an OPS of .681 through 82 at-bats over 23 games. He has two homers, nine RBI and seven walks compared to 23 strikeouts. Tebow is batting .290 with nine Ks over his last nine games.

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