That statement shouldn’t seem too unbelievable. After all, baseball is America’s Pastime—doesn’t everyone want to play it?
However, Tebow’s aspirations have been met with tremendous doubt from people inside the baseball community. Ever since his agent made the announcement in early August, Tebow has been insulted, mocked and told that he has absolutely no chance to ever play in the Major Leagues.
Is this surprising? Not really. Major League Baseball is a tight-knit fraternity that is incredibly slow to change and is easily threatened by outsiders. But while it’s not all that surprising that Tebow’s most recent challenge has been heavily scrutinized and criticized, it still is vastly unnecessary and downright wrong.
Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was the first player to share his thoughts to the public, calling out Tebow via Twitter.
Jones’ message is clear: how dare Tebow insult the sacred game of baseball despite not having played since high school?
But the reason this is disturbing is because Tebow isn’t trying to resurrect his athletic career as a baseball player because he thinks it’s an easy sport that he can immediately find success. Trust me, if he wanted to find an easy sport to play, he certainly wouldn’t have picked baseball.
He has said so himself. He is picking baseball back up because he loved playing it as a kid and doesn’t want to live his life thinking what could have been.
Tebow won two National Championships and a Heisman Trophy in his career with the Florida Gators. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
“When did pursuing what you love become a bad thing,” Tebow asked reporters. “I’ll make all the sacrifices to be the best I can.”
“This isn’t about publicity, it’s definitely not about money,” he said. “For me, you pursue what you love regardless of what else happens. If you fail or fall flat on your face, and that’s the worst thing that can happen, that’s OK.”
He’s exactly right. Adam Jones, if you have a burning desire to play football again, there is nothing stopping you from doing everything in your power to make that happen. And if Jones does it—which he never will because he has established himself as a premier player in Major League Baseball—he shouldn’t be met with mockery, either.
Tebow doesn’t need this baseball thing to come to fruition. He could always do a few football tryouts and, with his resume and character, he might be able to convince a team to sign him—maybe the 49ers?
Tim Tebow works as a college football analyst for the SEC Network and as a special contributor to ABC's Good Morning America. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Or he could remain as a full-time broadcaster. I had the privilege of spending a few minutes around him on Friday during a media session at SEC Nation’s set in College Station, Texas, and it was evident that Tebow has all the qualities of a successful analyst. He knows the game and he is articulate, handsome and insanely popular. If it becomes evident that baseball isn’t going to work out, the world will go on.
And so will Tebow’s life.
He will find another passion or challenge that he wants to pursue, and he will put his heart and soul into achieving it, just as he has done everything else in his illustrious athletic career.
That’s the thing that cannot be forgotten—Tebow has options. It wouldn’t make sense for him to engender some elaborate scheme of playing baseball simply to get his name in the headlines—he can do that by himself. He could devote his time and energy to increasing his role in broadcasting, he could write books about his inspiring life, he could go on more mission trips to poor countries around the world or he could even go into coaching if he so desired.
Tebow last played football as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
So again, why must the baseball world feel it necessary to repeatedly bash Tebow for his actions?
Like when a scout said this about Tebow’s tryout last week in front of MLB teams:
“It was a complete waste of time,” an anonymous AL scout told USA TODAY. “It was like watching an actor trying to portray a baseball player.”
Now, he’s certainly free to say what he wants, but there’s a sense of cruelty there, like the scouts don’t want Tebow to succeed simply because he is taking a different route to achieve his goals than the typical prospect does.
This is a guy who hasn’t played baseball since his junior year in high school and he’s launching balls out of USC’s Dedeaux Field—in batting practice and off live pitching. Of course his mechanics aren’t going to be perfect, and obviously it is going to take a while to begin to effectively recognize pitches out of the pitcher’s hand. Baseball is a hard game, but the people that have been around Tebow the most have been positive.
Former MLB catcher Chad Moeller, who has been Tebow’s primary trainer, has said repeatedly how impressed he is with the amount of improvement he has seen out his pupil in the short time they’ve worked together. Former big-leaguer Gary Sheffield took to Twitter to share his thoughts:
All in all, it would be incredibly dumb and short-sighted to count Tebow out of anything. He is arguably the hardest-working athlete of his generation, he is ridiculously big and strong with good speed and he is pursuing something he loves.
“Since I was four or five years old, the two things I’ve loved the most are one, playing quarterback with 10 guys looking at you and depending on you to win a ballgame and, second, hitting a baseball,” Tebow said after his tryout.
Give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s earned it.