Last April, rookie outfielder Tim Tebow dug in for his first at-bat for the Columbia Fireflies. I remember it very well because I was working for Minor League Baseball at the time. He was facing San Francisco Giants prospect Domenic Mazza (the 666th pick of the 2015 draft), and my boss was not amused.
“There’s only one thing he can do here to ruin our night,” he said. “And quite possibly our lives.”
The ex-Florida Gators quarterback did just that by taking Mazza — who ended up throwing a perfect game later in the month — deep to left-center field for a home run.
When the Mets signed Tebow in late 2016, it was derided as a jersey-selling publicity stunt. That is still the case, but some 15 months after the most famous minor-league dinger since Crash Davis set the record with his 247th career homer for the Asheville Tourists, things are getting quite real.
Offshore bookmaker Bovada has odds up on whether Tebow will play an MLB game in 2018. They list Yes at +160, which gives him an implied probability of 38.3%, and No at -180 (61.6%). Before the season, Bovada had a prop up that offered 6-1 odds for betting on the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner to make it to the majors by the end of 2019.
Since I’m being told I need to break this bet down by the powers that be, here goes it.
Tebow’s numbers with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies aren’t all that embarrassing. He’s slashing .271/.332/.398 with six homers and 36 RBI in 295 plate appearances. While those numbers aren’t bad — in fact, they earned him a spot in the Double-A All-Star Game — the former Denver Bronco has struck out in 35% of his trips to the dish this year. Yowza.
To his credit, Tebow has improved on his numbers from 2017, when he slashed .226/.309/.347 with 24 doubles, eight homers and 52 RBIs in 486 plate appearances.
However, the bigger part of this bet is the franchise that currently employs the sometimes missionary, sometimes football analyst and current minor-league outfielder — the New York Mets. The Mets are currently 39-55 and have a worse record than the Miami Marlins.
They’ve made fools of themselves on several occasions this season to the point where calling up Tebow in September, when rosters expand to 40 and the minor-league season ends, would be like the 10th-most embarrassing thing the Amazins have done in 2018.