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I woke up Monday morning to the sounds of helicopters and news trucks here in St Lucie, Florida. The New York Mets’ instructional league started this week. I’ve had clients attend in the past, but this year none of my clients are going. By now you know one player who is, though: Tim Tebow, the former Heisman-winning quarterback turned NFL quarterback impersonator. The Mets signed him a couple weeks ago for $100,000 after he performed at a scouts workout—have you heard about this? Have you heard that Donald Trump is running for president? Have you heard that beef comes from cows? I have all sorts of hot news scoops.

I’ve never, to my recollection, commented on the signing of another agent’s player, but for Tebow I’m ready to make an exception. I’m really having a hard time fathoming that Tebow is a baseball player now.

First things first: Good for him that he gets to live his dream. Not many people get to wear a professional baseball jersey, and even fewer get to do so once they’re nearing 30. Good for him. Really.

But as somebody who works in the industry, it’s frustrating to watch. It’s frustrating to see a 29-year-old who was never drafted, didn’t even play his senior year in high school, get a shot (and a bonus that would change many a kid’s life) solely because he’s a big name.

Anyone who reads this column knows I love betting on longshots, which means I also love rooting for longshots. I love longshots’ stories, seeing what they go through and what they put into the sport. Seth Lugo was a 34th-round pick with a really rough medical history, but I got to know the man and see the stuff and once that happened I was a believer. He was old for his level (23 and in Low-A when we first met), but it didn’t matter. I was all in from jump.

Having represented Lugo when he was going through those medical issues, on his way to the career he has now but three years delayed, it’s hard to think about the roster spot Tebow is taking now. Maybe a prospect who was on the bubble gets left at home. Maybe that guy never develops the skills he'd have gotten at instructs. Maybe he never makes it because he missed out on instruction or a roster spot.

You spend time with the longshots and you can’t help but think of the guy who is going home, and how it’s someone like Lugo or any of a multitude of guys I’ve worked for. It’s a competitive sport and it’s fair for players to have to earn their spot every step of the way, but it’s frustrating to see the spot going to somebody who is hedging his bets—who is taking weekends off, whose motivations for being there at all are unconvincing at best. That’s how I feel about this, and how a lot of people in the business of supporting young players feel. To do anything at the expense of kids grinding every inch out every day—it just doesn’t feel right.

When Michael Jordan played Double-A baseball back in 1994, I never really got it. Looking back, I do to an extent. While the Tebow experiment is mechanically the same thing, Tebow is not Michael Jordan. Jordan is a legend. He can choose his stunts. But Tebow? I don’t get it, from the industry’s perspective, unless it’s explicitly and entirely about the money the Mets will collect from his apparel sales. If so, hey, I guess hooray for capitalism.

But this is being sold as something more, as a real triumph and an inspiring story of player development. You have to sell it that way if you want to sell jerseys, because people want to buy something they believe is real. I don’t buy it. His ceiling is motivational speaker. He’s not a former first-rounder. He’s not a former college star who gave it up to pursue a different dream. My heart goes out to his future cutoff men. The bottom line is that there is no upshot to him as a baseball player.

There is a cost, though. For the players who are truly pursuing a dream—and who occasionally turn into the longshot-makes-good stories that this sport runs on—the cost is unfathomable. As an agent, I get it, but I’m sickened by it all the same.

Thank you for reading

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gtgator
9/21
Just state that you don't like Tebow - and move on. Please spare me the rest.
Tebow is just the same as any other player who wants to play baseball and just the same as any fringe 34th rounder whose spot he may have taken. Yes, he'll likely not amount to anything in pro baseball - just like any fringe 34th rounder whose spot he may have taken. So stop pretending that because some fringe 34th rounder whose spot he may have taken won't get a chance with one team's instructional league, that Tebow is less deserving of that spot.
First, there are plenty of examples of players who went from hitter to pitcher or vice versa. There are examples of players who went from baseball to football or basketball and vice versa. Tebow is simply trying to be another such player.
Second, as for his age and not playing baseball for years, there are plenty of players who made their major league debut at an age older than 29 and/or took years off from playing baseball (e.g. Gattis or Miller). Tebow is simply trying to be another such player.
Lastly, as for being a legend (ala Jordan), I'm pretty sure that in the realm of college football, Tebow is a legend. Heisman winner. Two-time National Champion. Maybe, to you, college football is meaningless. But to millions of others, it is not. In that world, Tebow was a legend (and is why him playing baseball is a story now).
Otherwise, Tebow didn't get drafted nor did he play his senior year in HS because he sucked at baseball. He didn't get drafted nor did he play his senior year because he was in college as of January 2006 (a semester early). Unless I'm missing something, a player in college (in January) isn't eligible to be drafted (in June) as a freshman. To try and use those facts as reasons why Tebow shouldn't be given a chance is disingenuous, at best.
The reality is that some fringe 34th rounder is NOT going to be a better athlete than Tebow nor work harder. Nor will such fringe 34th rounder be a more positive example or have less risk of creating a PR nightmare (e.g. by hitting his girlfriend, taking drugs or getting into a fight at a nightclub, etc.) than Tebow. And, yes, some fringe 34th rounder won't sell millions in merchandise in a month (as I admit that is definitely a factor here).
So take your little potshots about hitting a cutoff man and stop hiding behind the guise that you feel bad about some fringe 34th rounder who may not have gotten a shot here. Just admit you don't like Tebow. That's fine - as he doesn't care anyway.
In the end, he displayed above average power and speed and no one questions his work ethic (or shouldn't). That's a lot more than most fringe 34th rounders can say. As such, Tebow got the chance and is just as deserving as some Just state that you don't like Tebow - and move on. Please spare me the rest.
Tebow is just the same as any other player who wants to play baseball and just the same as any fringe 34th rounder whose spot he may have taken. Yes, he'll likely not amount to anything in pro baseball - just like any fringe 34th rounder whose spot he may have taken. So stop pretending that because some fringe 34th rounder whose spot he may have taken won't get a chance with one team's instructional league, that Tebow is less deserving of that spot.
First, there are plenty of examples of players who went from hitter to pitcher or vice versa. There are examples of players who went from baseball to football or basketball and vice versa. Tebow is simply trying to be another such player.
Second, as for his age and not playing baseball for years, there are plenty of players who made their major league debut at an age older than 29 and/or took years off from playing baseball (e.g. Gattis or Miller). Tebow is simply trying to be another such player.
Otherwise, Tebow didn't get drafted nor did he play his senior year in HS because he sucked at baseball. He didn't get drafted nor did he play his senior year because he was in college as of January 2006 (a semester early). Unless I'm missing something, a player in college (in January) isn't eligible to be drafted (in June) as a freshman. To try and use those facts as reasons why Tebow shouldn't be given a chance is disingenuous, at best.
The reality is that some fringe 34th rounder is NOT going to be a better athlete than Tebow nor work harder. Nor will such fringe 34th rounder be a more positive example or have less risk of creating a PR nightmare (e.g. by hitting his girlfriend, taking drugs or getting into a fight at a nightclub, etc.) than Tebow. And, yes, some fringe 34th rounder won't sell millions in merchandise in a month (as I admit that is definitely a factor here).
So take your little potshots about hitting a cutoff man and stop hiding behind the guise that you feel bad about some fringe 34th rounder who may not have gotten a shot here. Just admit you don't like Tebow. That's fine - as he doesn't care anyway.
In the end, he displayed above average power and speed and no one questions his work ethic (or shouldn't). That's a lot more than most fringe 34th rounders can say. As such, Tebow got the chance. Good for him. I hope he makes it. If he doesn't, it won't be for lack of effort. And if he sells a few jerseys along the way, even better.
JoshuaKusnick
9/21
The mets current 3 starter was a 34th rounder and 2b was ndfa
gtgator
9/21
Sorry for the double text. Not sure what happened. Wish I could edit.
JoshuaKusnick
9/21
Mike piazza 62nd round.

Theyre wasting a spot on on a stunt. I dont care about the guy at all. He seems to he a good role model but wow this is just a bizarre cazh grab.
jnossal
9/29
Piazza was a stunt, too. He was drafted as a favor to personal family friend and godfather to his brother, Tommy Lasorda.
jonmischa
9/21
I couldn't agree more. Mets fans should be upset that ownership seems more interested in publicity and making a few more dollars than winning. As for Tebow, this just seems like a desperate attempt to stay in the spotlight a bit longer.
pwoitko
9/21
I don't understand why signing Tebow to a $100,000 minor league deal illustrates ownership's preference to publicity or profit at the expense of winning. Does Tebow's signing bonus prevent them from resigning Cespedes? Have the Mets passed on some potential superstar by giving Tebow this opportunity. It's certainly possible, but far from likely. I think you could actually make a case that additional revenue brought in from this publicity stunt will go further towards improving the Mets chances of success far more than any other undrafted signee might have.

I understand Josh's point that some other kid is losing out on a shot at his dream because of this signing, but unfortunately, that's life.
JoshuaKusnick
9/21
I mean I care. Id also imagine the only agent winning in this equation is Tebows for the masterful job he did selling a product amd not a player. Its hard to sell a player to a ball club when said player has never played before professionally. My point was its really a tough message to send the guys already in your system. Look at Johnny Manziel being drafted before the last round and how people reacted.

If a club wants to sign a pure athlete and take a shot thats their business and quite progressive to boot but at 29 and sending that guy to instructs doesnt scream legit prospect. I mean why not try this with usain bolt next? At least he has an 80 tool
JoshuaKusnick
9/21
Would you be fine with this if it cost your club a big leaguer IE tj rivera or a seth lugo? I dont think so. I mean what is tebow the players actual upshot as a major league player? Even 2 years in the minors which is extremely kind puts him as a 31 or 32 year old rookie. This isnt Josh Hamilton skill were talking here.
planetearth1love
9/21
Whocares
JoshuaKusnick
9/21
Most people shouldnt. I kinda do given my job.
JoshuaKusnick
9/21
And remember when jordan played he ended up blocking mike cameron for a year. Wonder how that felt.....

And as i think I noted the russell wilson scenario is nkt at all like this given that russell played baseball professionally.

For 100k imo you get a walking billboard and motivational speaker. If it didnt cost someone a roster spot i wouldnt care. Imagine if this club had to cut a tj rivera or seth lugo to do this. I just dont get it beyond financial reasons.
russell
9/21
Thanks Joshua, I appreciate your sharing your take on this. I hadn't really thought about the possible cost outside of the sideshow.
JoshuaKusnick
9/21
I was 50 50 on writing this then a helicopter woke me up.
sinjin0366
9/22
Joshua, I agree with you on all points. Mainly the bizarre cash grab. Per an ESPN story, Tebow doesn't have to share his take of the sales due to the fact he doesn't belong to the player's union. The Met's have to share their take with 29 other clubs. By all accounts, Tebow is portrayed as a great role model, etc...but this is starting to come off as a bit disingenuous. It's as if this was engineered by his handlers for future marketing opportunities. Kind of like a resume add on. What's next? A bid for an Olympic sport? X Games? I just don't see this guy ever taking a MLB at bat. Most so-called experts don't see him going past one year of minor league ball. I tend to agree, but I wouldn't put it past Tebow to stick it out a bit to prove people wrong. Lastly, I just don't see how Tebow hitting a BP homer is any indication of pro talent. Canseco can still hit homers off A ball pitching when he gets if served up.
moehk21
9/22
Thanks for sharing, Joshua. I always find your posts insightful, honest and heartfelt. You're a true value to the BP site. Please keep posting whenever you feel passionately about something--it comes across on the page.
johnnynyc
9/24
The gloomy perspective here is a real downer. This is a game, and Tebow is an amazing athlete, and this becomes an intriguing possibility, even though it is a very low-likelihood possibility. I suggest stop focusing on the abstract person who supposedly missed a chance over this (and could find a chance elsewhere), and brighten up and give the unusual story a whirl. Tebow's football dream was crushed - don't think that doesn't matter to him. He has a bit of an opportunity to try something else - let him do it! He's just a person at the end of the day, and he's substantially out of the job field that he wanted to do, instead "settling" for bit-part announcer. Give the man a little respect and let him give it a try.
jnossal
9/29
A lot more money has been wasted on far worse players than Tim Tebow.