Jerry Izenberg of the Star-Ledger Ledger wrote a story last night that should bug the crap out of you. It’s about the Yankees, the Mets and the city of Newark and shows you just how dumb baseball’s territorial rights rules are.
Read the story itself because it has a strong and compelling personal element to it from Izenberg, but the short version is that, for one season, while the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre ballpark undergoes renovations, the Yankees wanted to put their AAA team in Newark, where it had been for decades back in the day. The Mets, who are co-owners of the New Jersey territory, rejected the idea. They rejected it even though the Yankees offered an open-ended waiver to the Mets to allow them to do the same thing one day. They rejected it even though the Yankees offered to pay the Mets for their trouble.
The Yankees are not anyone’s idea of a sympathy case, but this would have been great for Newark and great for baseball fans. It strains credulity to think that it would have any serious negative consequences for the Mets, apart from perhaps their organizational ego being bruised in the event that the Newark team’s attendance came a bit too close to the Mets’ for comfort.
But if that were the case, it just underscores how stupid and artificial the territory system is in the first place.
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.