For Tim Tebow, his baseball career just became a lot more interesting after his recent promotion to a higher-level team — bringing him one step closer to playing in the major leagues.
The famous Christian athlete is all over the news after being propelled from Low-A ball to the High-A Florida State League, where he will play for the St. Lucie Mets. He is now closer to friends, family, and fans from his days playing quarterback for the Florida Gators, where he led the Gators to two national championships. “I obviously love Florida, so this is nice… but the goal and focus is improving as a baseball player,” he said. (via Wild Card)
Yet some critics claim the move is a PR stunt by the Mets, that the team is banking on his popularity in Florida and his large fanbase there to fill seats at the games. Critics cite the fact that few ever get promoted with the stats Tim Tebow has, who’s currently batting at .222.
However, Met’s manager, Sandy Alderson, is hopeful for the player and had this to say about him, “It’s not like he’s tearing up the league, but at the same time, all of the indications are positive in terms of various things we look at: chase rates and exit velocity. […] The bottom line is the average isn’t there, but he’s improving.”
Tim Tebow is no stranger to opposition. In a game against the Charleston RiverDogs he was subjected to the other team mocking his Christian faith throughout the game. They played the “Hallelujah Chorus” when he was up for bat, the RiverDog mascot wore eye black with “John 3:16” written inside, and the other players would take a mocking knee to pray like Tebow used to do when playing for the NFL.
Fortunately, fans of the game were not impressed and the backlash against the derogatory behavior led to the RiverDogs issuing this apology. “While we believe that our promotions were poking fun at Mr. Tebow’s celebrity status rather than his religion or baseball career, our intent was not to offend anyone, and for the fact that we did offend, we are sorry,” read the statement.
Some baseball fans have questioned whether Tim Tebow will do well in High-A given he’s nearly a decade older than many of his Firefly teammates. Columbia Firefly President John Katz doesn’t have that reservation. “We’ve said he’s just one of the 25 guys,” Katz said in an interview. “At the end of the day, he really is. He wants to succeed. He puts in the work, and hopefully he’ll have continued success at a higher level.”
Despite all the fame and controversy, Tebow remains humble about the promotion. “There’s a lot of smarter, wiser people than me that make those decisions. I just try and show up and play hard every day.” It’s an attitude we wish more baseball players and athletes in general would have, and it may largely explain why he’s moving up in the baseball world. Three cheers for class.