ESPN reported early Tuesday that Tim Tebow will work out for MLB teams next week in Los Angeles. And our own La Velle E. Neal checks in from a day off to report that the Twins have two scouts in the area — and that one or both are expected to attend the workout.
That would put the Twins in the majority, since ESPN also reports there are expected to be more than 20 MLB teams represented. So if you’re a Twins fan who loves Tebow, don’t get your hopes up — at least for now. And if you’re a Twins fan who doesn’t love Tebow (or side shows), don’t worry — at least for now.
The more interesting question at this point is whether this will actually lead to anything more than a tryout for Tebow. As strange as it might sound, there are actually some obvious comparisons to be made when trying to sort this out.
Michael Jordan, of course, retired from the NBA in 1993 and spent 1994 toiling in the White Sox organization in Class AA. He was 31 years old at the time and hit .202 with a .556 OPS in nearly 500 plate appearances. That’s better than your or I (certainly I) could do, but it was also poor enough to convince one of the all-time great NBA players to hang up the cleats and get back to dominating the sport he was meant to play.
Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders split duty in the NFL and MLB, with strong levels of achievement in both. They were exceptional athletes who were able to transfer those gifts to more than one arena.
Russell Wilson? Ah, not so much. The Seahawks star QB hit just .229 in parts of two seasons in Class A ball in 2010 and 2011, though he walked a ton and had a very respectable .354 on-base percentage. He was asked about his baseball career and any advice he might give Tebow by Peter King of SI’s MMQB. Said Wilson: “Hope he can hit a curveball, Baseball’s pretty hard.”
No two people are alike, but Wilson’s experience gives us a frame of reference for how Tebow might fare. Wilson was a good enough high school athlete and baseball player to be drafted in the fifth round out of high school and the fourth round while in college. He played college baseball at North Carolina State. And baseball was still fresh to him when he tried his hand in the minors at age 21 and 22.
Tebow hasn’t played competitive baseball since high school, which was more than a decade ago. And while he was an elite college QB — good enough to be a first-round pick by the Broncos — his NFL career was short-lived. He hasn’t played in that league since 2012.
None of this, of course, should stop Tebow from pursuing a baseball career. It sounds like he’s been working hard on his game for the past year, and there’s no doubt he’s a competitor.
But it’s also fine to have a healthy dose of skepticism about a 29-year-old’s chances of starting a pro baseball career almost from scratch.