From the moment Tim Tebow broke the news that he would be pursuing a baseball career, this day was coming. Tebow engaged in a workout for various Major League Baseball clubs on Tuesday afternoon and, predictably, it was covered as an earth-shattering event. That comes with the territory when dealing with a famously polarizing force in sports culture who is already marketing himself as a baseball figure despite being out of the sport since high school.
Still, the now 29-year-old is a big-time athlete who excelled in a variety of sports earlier in his life, and most of the feedback from his workout was generally positive. (Aside from issues with his arm strength, which should be no surprise to anyone who watched him throw a football.)
Following said workout, ESPN’s Pedro Gomez was asked about the event and he indicated, as part of a SportsCenter hit on Tuesday evening, that the Atlanta Braves could be the “best fit” to sign Tebow.
“In talking to some people around the game, they think the Atlanta Braves might be the best fit. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he played football at Florida, which is SEC country. Georgia is not far from Florida and there is a big following for anything to do with football down there. Let’s face it, it’s a business, so if you can sell Tim Tebow jerseys, you can make some money and, therefore, you can spend that money within your own organization on player development.”
This was not the only context provided by Gomez who, along with Dallas Braden, also referenced some struggles defensively in the outfield from Tebow and the fact that five MLB teams engaged with Tebow individually following the showcase. Gomez’s takeaways do, however, shed a bit of light on the reasoning behind the overwhelming interest in Tebow, even if it is not groundbreaking material.
Tim Tebow can sell things.
With regard to the Atlanta Braves example, Gomez was on live television and perhaps engaged in some oversimplification. Georgia is certainly a part of “SEC Country,” but the state also houses the school that fancies itself as the chief rival of Florida (Tebow’s alma mater) and this would not be a big-time selling point. The overarching point is spot-on, though, in that minor league baseball teams live, eat and breathe on “pop up” marketing in this fashion, which is something that Tebow can provide in a way that few other entities could match.
The circus, for better or worse, is always in town when it comes to Tebow, and that certainty has drawn the ire of sports fans from coast to coast who are simply tired of the ongoing discussion surrounding a retired football player who peaked during his collegiate years. From the perspective of baseball clubs, however, Tebow would be a potential gold mine when it comes to attention, even if that attention did not come close to reaching the big-league team.
Would there be increased interest in media outlets covering Tim Tebow in his new sporting adventure? Absolutely. Would an MLB team be able to center its entire affiliate marketing approach around Tebow’s arrival and use the excess revenue to support actual, baseball-related investing? Certainly. Would this be annoying to most people in the sports world? Definitely.
At the end of the day, any MLB team that displays legitimate interest in Tebow absolutely should not care about that unless the franchise calculates that the pushback associated with adding his brand to the mix would outweigh the gains made elsewhere. It remains to be seen as to how that balance would work, but if we look past the fact that the Atlanta Braves could add Tebow because they dwell in “SEC Country” and actually look closer into the business and PR aspect of a pursuit in this way, it makes all the sense in the world for an affiliate, somewhere in the country, to take the chance.