Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Tim Tebow will get time off from instructional league play for his ESPN gig

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A lot of baseball players catch flak from fans and, occasionally, from their own organization for missing time for non-baseball matters. Even when it’s stuff like, say, witnessing the birth of their children. Likewise, off-the-field distractions are often cited as an impediment to a player giving his best effort and properly focusing his mind on baseball.

In other news, a guy who has not played baseball since Bush’s first term and who faces very long odds to make it in even the instructional league, is getting weekends off to attend to his day job:

Alderson likewise noted that Tebow’s clubhouse presence is a big part of the signing:

And I agree that it’ll be great. When he’s in the clubhouse, anyway.

All aboard the Tim Tebow hype train

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I’ve had a lot of snarky things to say about Tim Tebow in the past couple of weeks. Contrary to what some of you commenters say, it’s not because of his religion or his politics or, as one person opined, that Tebow’s Gators beat my alma mater for the national championship back in 2008 or whenever that was. I really, really don’t care about that stuff.

No, my snark is mostly driven by my finding it silly that a 29-year-old who hasn’t played ball since high school thinks he can be a major leaguer one day. But all it is is snark, not knowledge that Tebow won’t succeed. Ultimately, I’m just some writer dude who couldn’t scout his way out of a paper bag. The Mets, in contrast, are a baseball team with talent evaluators and, while there is clearly some element of novelty to their signing him, they wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t at least something to work with there. Other teams, including my own Atlanta Braves, were considering him too. He didn’t embarrass himself at his showcase, after all. He either hits or he doesn’t, advances or doesn’t, just like any other player signed and sent to the instructional leagues. As such, saying “Hahaha, LOLMets!” is not really on point here. It’s not like they decided to let him hit cleanup against the Braves tomorrow night.

Still, there is something eye-rolling about all of this. About how it so perfectly suits the needs of certain folks. Folks like the ESPN PR department, which jumped at the chance to tweet something ridiculous about all of this earlier this morning:

Two of those guys were Hall of Famers at another sport, the other was a world class athlete at three different sports in college and established himself as an All-Star at two of them as a professional. Maybe he ends up as good a baseball player as Michael Jordan was, but that kind of tweet is more about promoting a star — a star which happens to work for ESPN, mind you, even if they never mention that — than it is about talking about what kind of company he’s in, athletically speaking. Note: we’ve heard no stories about how Tebow’s time in the fall league will interfere with his ESPN commentator schedule. Likely because ESPN is more than happy to let him go do this for the sake of his profile as marketable talent. He’ll be back for the important SEC games in November.

Then there’s Tebow himself. I don’t claim to know what makes him tick or what motivates him, but most athletes will tell you that the press and surrounding hoopla is a distraction. As such, signing with a New York team which will ensure a ton of reporters, from both the Mets and Jets beat, watching his every move is an odd choice. At least if his highest priority is concentrating on doing the hardest thing he’s ever had to do in his life with a minimum of distractions as opposed to, say, publicity. In other news, Tebow has a book coming out in October, a couple of weeks after his stint in the instructional league is up, but I’m sure that’s a coincidence.

Contrary to what some of you may think, I don’t have any desire to see Tim Tebow fail at baseball. Indeed, as some of you have noted, the longer Tim Tebow stays in baseball the longer I have reason to post stuff about him and that’s good for me too. Heck, in that light, I hope he succeeds and makes the bigs some day. I just wonder, however, how many different definitions of “success” there are for Tebow in this pursuit. And to what degree making the bigs constitutes the best success he and his business partners are hoping for out of all of this.

UPDATE: I’m sorry I questioned Tebow’s commitment for one second:

In other news, I wonder how many other fall instructional league prospects are allowed to miss time due to their day jobs. Like, can a second baseman who just got drafted go take a Saturday shift at Home Depot? Inquiring minds want to know.

Cleveland invaded by midges again

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One of the more memorable scenes from recent playoff history is when Joba Chamberlain was attacked by midges during the 2007 ALDS at Progressive Field. The midges, little flying insects which love the muddy, marshy areas around Lake Erie and come flying out when it’s good and hot and muggy, love to attack people’s heads and eyes. Kind of not ideal if you’re trying to pitch.

Indians starter Carlos Carrasco learned this last night:

 

Normally when a pitchers breaks off a 20-foot curve ball, it’s because something snapped in his arm. This was not so dire, even if it was annoying.

At least Carrasco had someone offering him sage advice from afar about all of this:

Empathy is beautiful. It can make the worst situations better.