Almost everyone thinks Rusty Staub is a nice guy

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Over at MLB Trade Rumors, Howard Megdal has a nice little writeup on the career of Rusty Staub.  He uses Staub as an example of a guy who was traded a whole bunch of times but, unlike the Gary Sheffields of the world, wasn’t considered a horse’s patootie.  Megdal’s opening paragraph ends thusly:

But baseball teams managed to trade Rusty Staub five different times – even though anyone who has
ever met the man describes him as a terrific teammate and better human
being.

I’ve heard the same thing too, but not unanimously. There was a lone dissent, and it was a weird one. It came from Mickey Lolich, who — as I wrote a few years ago — I had the pleasure of meeting when I was a kid.

I won’t say Lolich was over the top about it or anything, but when my brother and I started asking him about players he liked and players he didn’t like, he brought up Staub in the latter camp. It was a weird little rant, but according to Lolich, Staub would use new batting gloves for almost
every at bat, throwing away the old one, and because of that people thought he was a prima donna.

Given that Staub and Lolich were never teammates — in fact, they were traded for one another — I can only assume Lolich got this second hand from guys he played with on the Mets. And its entirely possible that the story was infused with some weird resentment over the fact that Lolich flamed out almost immediately after the trade while Staub had several more productive years. No idea, really.

No point here, other than that Megdal’s Staub thing reminded me of the time I met Lolich, and for some reason it was the ballplayer meet-up I’ve had that I think about the most.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.