Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rick Cleveland on Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback-turned NFL washout-turned football TV analyst, now wants to become a Major League baseball player.

Good luck with that.

Tebow is 29 years old and hasn't played baseball since he was a high school junior.

This probably won't go well.

Granted, Tebow is an elite athlete, amazingly strong and fast. From all accounts, he has a work ethic second to none. But people said much the same about Michael Jordan when he decided he wanted to become a professional baseball player at age 31.


The White Sox signed him and quickly promoted him to Class AA Birmingham. I remember going to Hoover to watch him play in 1994 — and feeling sorry for him. It takes a lot to make someone feel sorry for the world's most successful and richest athlete. In the field, MJ misplayed a fly ball. At the plate, his swing was long and slow. He often swung where the ball wasn't. He looked out of place. He was.

And he was soon back on a basketball floor where he belonged.

Jordan was trying to do what Tebow wants to do now, which is become a corner outfielder in the Major Leagues. To do that, he will have to show he can hit Big League pitching. There is no harder task in sports.

Consider that a fastball thrown at 95 mph reaches home plate in about four-tenths of a second. That's about two voluntary blinks of an eye. In that time, a batter must recognize the pitch, determine precisely where it's coming and then swing a bat and connect with the ball at precisely the right spot and time. Remember, two blinks of an eye.
And keep in mind, that fastball might not be a fastball. It might be a curve, a slider, a change up or a cutter. Hitting the ball solidly would be hard enough if it came in a straight line, but the damned thing moves. Major League pitchers change their speeds and locations.

Hitting Major League pitching not only requires uncommon physical skills and vision but also years and years of practice and repetition. You don't take 12 years off and then learn to hit Clayton Kershaw. It just doesn't work like that.

Now comes the news that after Tebow's tryout last week, the Atlanta Braves were among one of the few teams interested in his services. And that means that Tebow conceivably could be in Pearl next summer at Trustmark Park trying to hone his hitting skills.

He'll be 30 then. The Braves or whoever signs him can't afford to bring him along slowly. He will get baseball's version of being thrown to the wolves. Surely, he would sell some tickets in the process.

The A-Braves own their Minor League teams and all are located in SEC country. They know Tebow will be a drawing card at the gate— to a point, that is. It's no fun to go watch anybody strikeout, no matter how great a football or basketball player he once was.

Tim Tebow is a nice guy. He was charming, as polite and down-to-earth as could be this past spring when he came to speak at The Clarion-Ledger's highly successful Best of MS Preps banquet. I wish him well. I just believe he would have a much better chance of becoming an NFL tight end or H-back than he has of becoming a Major League slugger.
That's not the point, Tebow would tell us. He doesn't want to play tight end. He wants to play baseball.

After his tryout, he told reporters: “Regardless of if you fail, or if you fall on your face, if that's the worst thing that can happen, that's OK. When did that become such a bad thing? When did pursuing what you love become a bad thing, regardless of the result?”

If that's how he really feels, he should go for it. Where hitting Major League pitching is concerned, he will have plenty of company in his failure.

Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated columnist. His email address is


Anonymous said...

Predictable column from the Bill Minor of the Mississippi sports scene.

Anonymous said...

Predictable comment from the Rush Limbaugh of the Jackson Jambalaya scene.

Anonymous said...

Rick Cleveland, the best columnist in Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

A fine article. How can anyone not enjoy this?

Anonymous said...

Tebow has gone from inspiring to pathetic. He had a promising career as a broadcaster--perhaps still does.

perhaps he should have chosen baseball over heisman, but perhaps a nice AAA or AA career player.

Anonymous said...

Because it's a string of hackneyed clich├ęs?

Anonymous said...

I say follow your dreams if you can, and Tebow can.

Thanks, Rick.

Anonymous said...

I was at an M-Braves game last week. Granted it was a school night and the last week of the regular season, but there were maybe 1,000 people there. They would sell out every night if Tebow was there.

Anonymous said...

Since when did the keyboard commandos pick up the banner of policing literary prose and style? Pretty sad if you ask me. These people would be the first to get a swirly if they joined me in the school of hard knocks.

Anonymous said...

Rick Cleveland walks on water. When it comes to self-adulation Rick is Numero Uno!

Anonymous said...

What's the harm, Rick? He'll either succeed or he won't.

Players who are drafted for the wrong reasons (e.g. Michael Sam) or coaches who are hired for the wrong reasons (e.g. Sylvester Croom) wash out and, to quote Mike Tyson, "fade into Bolivian." In sports, things tend to sort themselves out without everyone crapping all over a storyline.

I suppose we can all look forward to next week's column which will tell us how we shouldn't enjoy the start to the college football season too much because it'll all be over in January.

Anonymous said...

Hugh Kennenburger wants to be as popular as Rick Cleveland. He interviewed a few MS State recruits after their loss to USA. I don't recall him doing this after the Jacksonville State or Memphis losses. He'd love for Hugh Freeze to be his "daddy".

Mitt Ketchum said...

The Cleveland boys, Rick and Bobby, both posted. And maybe one other family member. Rick can't afford to piss off his Ole Myth frands or he'd write about the impending demise of Hugh freeze. And his lib compadres would run him out of the county if he stood up (literally) for Dixie.

Anonymous said...

"fade into Bolivian."

Thanks......that made my day.

Anonymous said...

If not for his oh-so-prominent "Christianity", nobody would give a rat's ass about Tim Tebow. There are thousands of athletes every bit as talented as him but who didn't take their religion to the bank. Biggest fake ever.

Chris Hansen said...

Great insight...(insert eye roll). Who cares, Rick? Would you go see him if he came to Pearl? Of course you would. "This won't go well.." What does that mean? He'll die? Lighting will strike the field? Or he may just find out he's not elite enough to play professionally. Sensationalize everything...I thought you were above that.

Anonymous said...

Tebow is a great role model for kids and grownups- Cleveland is by far is the most respected sportswriter in Mississippi. We're lucky to have him!

Anonymous said...

"Tebow has gone from inspiring to pathetic. He had a promising career as a broadcaster--perhaps still does."
September 7, 2016 at 8:50 AM

Yes, but a broadcaster has greatly diminished opportunity for sharing hotel rooms with other fine young heterosexual athletes - sharing his - um - faith - with them, whilst clothed in nothing but a towel and his righteousness.

Anonymous said...

Had Tebow decided to return to the NFL as a "tight end or H-back" Cleveland would be predicting similar doom saying he was too old, that it was now too late, that he should have reached this conclusion earlier (when all the omnipotent sports writers were calling for the position shift) and that "he will have plenty of company in his failure".

This column is nothing more that a thinly veiled smear at an athlete and person who refuses to kowtow to the 'wisdom' of the sports chattering class.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of your political views, Rick is a Mississippi treasure. He is hands down the best sports writer our state has eve seen.

Anonymous said...

Coach Mullens sure wishes he still had ol' Timmy playing for him.

Hughbert Froze said...

9:13; Mullens is a QB at Southern Miss. Turn your cap around. And learn to spell.

Anonymous said...

The Mets are signing Tebow so now Cleveland can actually root for his failure instead of predicting it. I'm sure a 'Mets are stupid' column is now in the offing from our "Mississippi treasure".

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, have you heard that hitting Major League pitching is difficult? Amazing! I'd never heard that before!

Also, did you know?

You can make your articles more dramatic with single sentence paragraphs.

Sometimes, it doesn't even need to be a complete sentence.

Just a phrase.


Anonymous said...

This is nothing more than a minor league beer night, bobblehead night, free t-shirt night, ticket selling stunt by the New York Mets organization. Just ask the Con Maloney family how many ticket buying fans it takes to "break even." For anyone who knows baseball, there is undoubtedly a high school, college, or for sure Domenican kid that has more potential to "make the major leagues." It is what it is, enjoy your $4.00 hot dog watching Tebow chase a curveball.

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