Gary Sheffield was impressed with Tim Tebow’s bat speed

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Former outfielder and current agent Gary Sheffield spoke with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on Sirius XM’s MLB Network radio about Tim Tebow’s desire to play baseball today. Sheffield says that he has worked with Tebow and that, while initially skeptical, he immediately came around to the idea that Tebow could make it because of the speed, power and compactness of his swing. Sheffield was also impressed by “that sound,” referring to the crack of the bat on Tebow’s swings.

I don’t know if “crack of the bat” is a legit scouting observation or not. People have always talked about it, and I’m sure that there is a correlation between bat speed, squaring up the ball and strength that leads to that satisfying sound. I suspect it’s one of those deals, though, where all good hitters make the bat crack nicely, but not all hitters who make the bat crack nicely are good hitters, if that makes any sense. One of my Twitter friends, a Twins fan, reminded me that people talked big about the sound of the crack of Delmon Young‘s bat back in the day. And sure, if Tim Tebow could be Delmon Young that would be WAY better than anyone expects, but let’s not pretend bat crack is determinative of anything.

I’ll give Sheffield an extraordinarily wide berth on bat speed. If anyone on the planet knows bat speed it’s Gary Sheffield. That dude whipped the lumber like nobody’s business. Still worth noting: Sheffield was hired to work with Tebow. I don’t know what sort of relationship they had — he may have just coached him a bit on one afternoon, he may have worked with him a lot — but Sheffield does seem to have an interest in the Tim Tebow story working out, so take it for what it’s worth. For my part: I’m not gonna die on a hill of second-guessing Gary Sheffield’s insights on hitting, but I’m highly skeptical.

I’m more skeptical on the comments he and host Jim Duquette make about Tebow’s dedication and hard work. I don’t doubt that Tebow always worked hard at what he set out to do, no matter the results, but there is a clear thread in his career where, if someone asked him to do something he didn’t want to do — like play in the CFL or learn another position — he wasn’t too hot on it. People can change, of course, but as so many have observed, baseball is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. If Tim Tebow has major league dreams and someone says that he should cool his heels at extended spring training go ride the pine for the Missoula Osprey for three months to just soak in some baseball for a while, how will he react?

I guess we’ll see. In the meantime, here’s Sheffield talking Tebow:

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.