If Tim Tebow had a chance of making it in pro football, it would only have been in the old AFL but that is long gone. Instead he’s turned his fantasies to baseball’s AFL – the Arizona Fall League. You have to admire the guy’s determination, and he’s attracted a legion of fans lining up for autographs. So crowds (using that word advisedly) that normally number in the 300 range for a typical Fall League game have now swelled to 900.
Thankfully this hasn’t appreciably changed the intimacy of the game. When Tebow’s name is announced in the starting lineup there’s barely a ripple of noise, and when his name comes over the PA system striding to the plate perhaps an encouraging “Come on Tebow” or two.
Much like Chase Utley (a lifelong baseball player) who hasn’t had a hit yet in the post-season due to the loss of bat speed, Tebow has never developed the bat speed to be able to handle the level of pitching that he’s seeing in the AFL and had been hitless in his first 13 at bats. This game is tremendously humbling to baseball lifers, yet alone athletes who are stellar in other sports and give pro baseball a go — just ask Michael Jordan.
To his credit, Teblow actually managed to get his first base hit yesterday.
But watch his swing and tell me what you notice:
That’s right — his front leg is still bent and he’s rocked way back on the swing. That means he’s going to be late on most pitches, and in watching him that’s always the case. When he does make contact it’s typically a foul ball dribbled down the third base line or even a liner into the seats down the left field line. Now contrast Tebow’s swing with the batter after him, another left-handed hitter the Phillies’ Aaron Brown, who rocketed a double down the right field line:
Much better balance and position, allowing him to meet the ball before it gets in too deep on him. Tebow advanced to third base on Brown’s double, running like a slow quarterback. As Tim took his lead off third, a fan yelled “Tebow — steal home!” to which another audibly countered: “Thou Shalt Not Steal!”
Tebow wound up stranded at third, so has yet to score his first AFL run, but he did get some polite applause from the crowd and a pat on the rump from Aaron Brown as they trotted back to the dugout. Don’t know how long the Tebow Show will go on, but at least we have confirmation that the tranquility and tenor of the AFL is preserved.