News that Tim Tebow has opted to sign with the New York Mets elicits a small and selfish sigh of relief. Because — speaking as a media person — I wanted no part of the furor that would have accompanied a Tebow Sighting at Turner Field or SunTrust Park or Lake Buena Vista, Fla. or even in the PreCheck line at Hartsfield-Jackson.
Nothing against Tebow himself, mind you. He has always seemed like an OK guy. But being Tim Tebow means he can never be Just A Guy. He’s the Web Wonder. He’s the name that prompts a zillion clicks. He’s Lindsay Lohan (admittedly in a rather different way).
The Atlanta Braves, as we know, had “interest” in signing Tebow as a free agent. So did one-fourth of the other MLB teams. But to suggest the Braves are hugely deflated this morning is to misread their level of “interest.”
They were mildly intrigued, as opposed to outright fascinated. They saw a guy who might — big “might” there — one day turn into something. Seeing as how the Braves’ farm system isn’t awash with power-hitting outfielders and that the most promising part Tebow’s famous workout was his power, they’d have been willing to take a flier. They weren’t willing to go so far as to guarantee an invitation to the big-league club’s spring training.
Short version: They wouldn’t have minded taking a longer look at him in the fall instructional leagues, but that’s as far as they were ready to go. I can summarize their organizational feeling toward Tebow in three words: “Hey, why not?”
That he has signed with the Mets means he’s somebody else’s long-shot asset — and also somebody else’s PR circus. That part gave every team, the Braves absolutely included, pause: “Will he be more trouble than he’s worth?” John Coppelella isn’t afraid to try anything, but he’s also not one for publicity stunts. As much as the Braves’ general manager would have tried to make this simply a baseball acquisition and not a move to sell tickets , can anything involving Tebow be simple?
If the Braves are disappointed, it’s disappointment of the mildest form. Had they signed Tebow, they wouldn’t have been expecting much. (He hasn’t played baseball since 2005.) Not signing him means they’ve lost nothing tangible and maybe spared themselves a headache. And they, and we, move on.
Further reading: The Braves’ rise from oblivion has begun.