By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) I didn’t expect to be hearing about Tim Tebow amid coverage of the Chicago Bears, but there he was, offered up by coach John Fox on Tuesday as he discussed his team’s bizarre and conflicted quarterback situation.
Tebow’s former coach, Fox was responding to a question about how he was going to commit to free-agent acquisition Mike Glennon while also trying to develop rookie Mitchell Trubisky, the second overall pick for whom the Bears traded up expensively to grab. Could there be a special package of plays for the youngster?
“I’ve been around situations like that before,” Fox said, “back in my time at Denver even with Tebow.”
He stopped short of actually answering, as is often his habit, but Fox likes reminding people that he won a playoff game with a quarterback who couldn’t throw. He’s a natural excuse-maker, and his history with Tebow seems to be a resume point of which he’s oddly proud.
Everything about Tebow is odd, and nothing more so than the ongoing stunt of the soon-to-be 30-year-old pursuing a baseball career as an outfielder in the Mets organization.
So much has happened since the initial tryout circus engineered by his agents at Creative Artists Agency, it was a realization that he’s still playing. Tebow continues to work on his game with the Columbia (S.C.) Fireflies of the low Class-A South Atlantic League and is producing a slash-line of .223/.313/.348 for an OPS of .660 through 55 games. He has three homers and has struck out in nearly one-third of his total at-bats.
We know what’s going on and why, because CAA baseball chief Brodie Van Wagenen also just so happens to represent the Mets’ Noah Sydergaard, Jacob deGrom and Yoenis Cespedes, and relationships matter in contract negotiations no matter what anybody might say. Depending on the depth and breadth of one’s cynicism, a late-season call-up to an expanded roster can still be envisioned. Such a move would ostensibly fulfill both a dream and a handshake deal, giving the inevitable documentary its contrived moment under the lights in the big city.
Yet there are real players involved and affected by all this, too. And the ongoing 2017 MLB amateur draft is the latest reminder of the finite number of roster spots and playing opportunities up and down the ladder of every baseball club. Truer prospects are being brought in — not old, bad experimental vanity projects, but 40 rounds of scouted talent of varying levels of promise from colleges and high schools around the country. It only serves to highlight yet again the superficial pointlessness of letting a failed football player continue a masquerade to no meaningful end.
We don’t know the specifics of whatever Van Wagenen worked out with Mets brass. But the deal has to contain some kind of wind-down arrangement for if and when the novelty wears off, dissipating as Tebow makes second and third trips to cities around the league like any other struggling minor leaguer, taking off the table the best-case scenario.
That’s unless they look for some opportunity to have him continue to fall upward, moving him to another league for another go-round on a path to that manufactured, undeserved elevation to the bigs. I’ll put nothing past anyone at this point.