New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has been quoted this spring saying that he expects outfielder Tim Tebow to play in the major leagues at some point. Various experts and media outlets laughed off the thought of the former Heisman Trophy winner playing for a major league ball club, until Alderson announced that Tebow would be starting the season in our own backyard with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
For people unfamiliar with the MLB minor league system, starting the season at the AA-affiliate after spending time in major league spring training is a big deal. It essentially equates to being put on the fast track to a major league team — in this case, the Mets.
The frivolous and flat-out idiotic nature of this move does not solely fall on the fact that Tebow’s skill level in baseball is not up to par. While this is the main problem, the burden falls upon the ownership prioritizing short-term money-making opportunities, such as this one, over winning championships.
It’s fairly obvious that in a game such as baseball, one player cannot single-handedly win you a championship, but one outstanding player can make a litany of tangible and intangible differences. The Wilpon family, Fred and his son Jeff, mainly, are in the driver’s seat when it comes to making decisions about the Mets, as they are majority owners. They are still recovering from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal, in which they reportedly lost upward of $700 million.
That’s quite the hole to fall into. When you look at how the team has performed since then, discounting 2015 because of rookie deals and circumstantial events, they should have sold the team to someone who has a firmer grasp on how to run a successful baseball team in a large market.
You don’t have to look too far for a team that has displayed sustainable success. Just across town in the Bronx is the most successful professional sports franchise in the history of the United States. Success, in this sense, is measured by triumph, both financially and on the field. The two triumphant qualities go hand in hand. If you win championships, you will create lifelong fans, especially if you do it in the most prominent market on the east coast.
If you continue to disappoint your fans, they will eventually get fed up. It starts with fewer people attending games, and then extends to fewer people watching the games from home. This then goes on to lead to the ever-so-tangible drop of merchandise revenue.
It isn’t rocket science. Winning sells. If you just take a look around the entire state of New York, you will see far more Yankees hats than Mets hats. The drop-off in proud Mets fans following the 2015 season has been astounding in that in almost no time they have gone from the new sheriff in town to the punchline of every New York baseball-related joke, and this is where giving Tebow a shot at the big leagues comes into play.
This move, regardless of who propagated it, provides the Mets fan base with further proof that the organization has its priorities out of order. When it comes down to it, just about any other prospect in the Mets organization would give the team a better opportunity to win.
This is nothing against Tebow, who is an outstanding and talented human being, but his at-bat against Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals during spring training was more than revealing of where he is currently at as a baseball player. The entire video of the at-bat is just 48 seconds. The undisputed king of National League pitching needed just three pitches to sit down Tebow. While he is one of the best arms in the game, he does play for a team in the Mets’ division.
The short-term benefits for the organization are already being seen. Tebow made his presence in Binghamton known immediately. The left fielder stepped into the box for his first at-bat with the Rumble Ponies and smacked a three-run home run. After his first weekend set, the former quarterback is hitting .143 with a home run, three RBIs and a strikeout.