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Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2016 — #12: Tim Tebow plays baseball

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We’re a few short days away from 2017 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2016. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

It seems like it lasted all season, but the “Tim Tebow: Baseball Player” thing didn’t get started until early August. That’s when the former Heisman Trophy winner and failed NFL quarterback announced that he was “actively pursuing a career in professional baseball” and that he planned to hold a workout for MLB teams. Tebow is 29 and hadn’t played baseball since he was a junior in high school. As such, the entire thing was viewed as a publicity stunt. Some in baseball were particularly unimpressed by Tebow’s intentions.

Whatever his intentions were and are, Tebow followed through. At least he did after selling some autographed baseball merchandise from his website, as one does. At the end of August, however, he held a workout for scouts. His raw power was, not surprisingly, excellent. Everything else was found lacking. A little over a week later the defending NL champion New York Mets nonetheless signed him. They intended to send him to the Instructional League, but allowed him to take weekends off in order to work his day job as an ESPN college football analyst. The Mets didn’t much care, however, as they were selling a lot of Tim Tebow jerseys themselves.

A hurricane cut Tebow’s Instructional League stint short, but the Mets had bigger plans for their new star: The Arizona Fall League. This rankled many more in baseball than his signing did. The AFL is for serious prospects and Tebow, however nice a guy he may be, is not a serious prospect. On to Arizona he went, however. Apart from some typical Tim Tebow off-the-field heroics it didn’t go well. His very presence in the Fall League was viewed as a “farce,” and the scouts’ assessments of his game was withering. He was called “awful,” was told that he “stinks” and that his game was “ugly.”  The man may have big league dreams, but he had no business in the Fall League.

Not that this has deterred the Mets. They plan to let him play in spring training games next March. They pretty much have to, right? If they don’t, Tebow will have to take the $300 autographed Mets jersey he’s selling off of his website. And that would simply be embarrassing.

 

Umpire ejects Adrian Beltre for moving on-deck circle

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As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.

Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.

Video: Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford hits an inside-the-park grand slam

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Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.

Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.

Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:

Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.

Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.