I played high school baseball with someone who is currently on the New York Mets 40-man roster. To many minor league baseball players, that is the epitome of “making it.” No more $400 per week, terrible bus rides, crowded hotel rooms or subpar team food.
He played alongside Tim Tebow on the Class-A Columbia Fireflies in 2017. He witnessed firsthand exactly what the former Heisman Trophy winner was and has been throughout his baseball career: a ticket-seller and seat-filler. Like when the circus comes to town, everyone shows up to watch Tebow either trip over his own shoes or hit spring training home runs in his beefy football body. No matter how the career .223 hitter performs on the field, he’s afforded a spot on the team for attendance reasons.
For many other minor leaguers, they aren’t afforded that same cushion. In fact, many are finding themselves out of work amid the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that hundreds of minor league players were released by teams this week and the toll could reach 1,000 when all is said and done. These cuts come on the heels of Major League Baseball’s ugly negotiations with players regarding pay this season, if there ever is an MLB season.
One former Mets minor leaguer was part of those lay-offs and sounded off on the culture of minor league baseball, his former organization and his former teammate Tim Tebow’s “mockery” of a stint with the club.
Former Tim Tebow Teammate: He’s a “Mockery”
Andrew Church, a 25-year-old former second-round draft pick by the Mets, took to Instagram to voice his anger and also lay into the ex-NFL and college football quarterback’s baseball career. Church was teammates with Tebow in 2019 on the Triple-A Syracuse Mets, in 2018 on the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies and in 2017 on the High-A St. Lucie Mets.
“Then the next year, they made a mockery of our team by putting a celebrity on it to sell more tickets. I saw players lose their jobs because of it. We weren’t playing to win, we were playing to make everyone else money,” Church wrote.
Church doesn’t explicitly mention Tebow’s name, but it’s pretty obvious who he’s talking about. He also alleges that Tebow saw a “cut” of the money brought by selling more tickets.
On Thursday alone, 39 players in the Mets organization were let go. Tebow, however, was not one of them.
Will Tim Tebow Lose His Job?
Tebow wasn’t part of the Mets’ initial wave of cuts. He may not ever be as long as they view him as a commodity that brings business to local minor league teams.
But keeping Tebow in the orange and blue (not the Florida Gators orange and blue) sends a clear message to other players in the organization: we’re not putting the best nine guys on the field as possible.
One glance at his stats will show why that’s the case. Across four minor league seasons, the outfielder owns a .223 batting average, .299 on-base percentage and 12 errors through 940 at-bats. His best season came as an Eastern League All-Star in 2018, when he hit .273 with six home runs, 36 RBIs, 22 walks and 103 strikeouts in 298 plate appearances.
The Mets didn’t release him after he hit .163 last season at AAA, but Tebow’s MLB dreams have to be dwindling. That the kid born in Makati, Philippines, who grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, picked up baseball again for the first time since playing at Nease High School should’ve been the first red flag.
The good news for the professional baseball player and SEC Network college football analyst is that he has plenty of other opportunities to turn to for money if and once he does become a free agent. We may never see Timothy Richard Tebow play for an MLB team, and maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.