Former Heisman-Winning QB Could Join Cyclones in 2017
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Cyclones have already led the New York-Penn League in average home attendance for each of their first 16 years of existence on Coney Island.
They just might have to be build a new tier atop the 7,500-seat (not including standing room) facility by the sea come next June, not to mention a much bigger press box.
Believe it or not Brooklynites, there is more than just a puncher’s chance that Tebow-Mania is on its way to Surf Avenue!
Tim Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, who spent parts of five seasons trying to earn a fulltime job as an NFL signal-caller, has recently turned his attention to baseball.
And the New York Mets, parent club of the Cyclones since their relocation to our fair borough in 2001, signed the ultra-popular, if not outright iconic, athlete to a Minor League contract on Thursday morning, officially paving the way for the Major League hopeful to work his way up the team’s organizational chain.
That could very well mean a stop at the club’s Class A short-season affiliate in Brooklyn come next June, when the Cyclones kick off their 17th season by the seaside amusement park.
Tebow, who revealed that he began his latest journey to the Majors over a year ago, held a workout for Major League scouts in Los Angeles at the end of last month, wowing some with his powerful stroke and overall athletic ability, but disappointing others with his lack of baseball skills.
He has not played competitive baseball for over a decade, dating back to his pre-collegiate days at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida.
But the Mets, perhaps sensing an opportunity to cash in on having arguably the most famous Minor Leaguer in history within their system, have decided to give Tebow a shot.
Even if they claim it’s not about Tebow-Mania.
“While I and the organization are mindful of the novel nature of this situation, this decision was strictly driven by baseball,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, whose team is currently fighting tooth and nail down the stretch to grab a National League playoff spot, insisted during a Thursday morning conference call.
“It is not driven by marketing considerations of any sort.”
Both Alderson and Mets and Cyclones CEO Jeff Wilpon know it doesn’t have to be driven by market considerations to produce them.
The demand for Tim Tebow Mets jerseys figure to go through the roof as the once-heralded Florida Gators legend and outspoken Christian has an unquestioned following throughout the nation (3.34 million Twitter followers at last check).
And just watch the demand for Cyclones tickets to go soaring even higher than their already record-setting levels if the Mets announce Tebow will play in Brooklyn next season.
He was immensely popular during his first pro stint in New York as a back-up quarterback for the Jets in 2012 as Tebow-maniacs consistently urged then-head coach Rex Ryan to install him as the starting quarterback in place of Mark Sanchez.
Ryan never did, and Tebow eventually found himself making brief preseason appearances for New England and Philadelphia before calling it quits and opting for a career in broadcasting at ESPN’s Southeastern Conference Network.
While he won’t be a part of the Mets’ 40-man roster anytime soon, if ever, the image of Tebow wearing the Mets’ traditional blue and orange, even in the Instructional League down in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where he will begin his foray into pro baseball, will doubtlessly result in an almost instant fervor and even bigger following for the 29-year-old outfield prospect.
"I know this is a tough game," Tebow said after reportedly receiving a $100,000 signing bonus from his new team.
"But I'm looking forward to putting in the work and I felt like this was the best fit."
An even better fit would be to have Tebow cut his teeth at the professional level here in Brooklyn, where the fans, as well as the media, are about as big league as you can get at the short-season level.
With the Cyclones having failed to reach the New York-Penn League playoffs in each of the past four seasons, and having finished below .500 for the first two times in their history the past couple of summers, Tebow’s arrival here could cause as much stir and excitement along the beach as the NBA’s Nets and NHL’s Islanders moving to Downtown’s Barclays Center did during the past half-decade.
Even more if the modern-day version of Jim Thorpe turns out to be the real thing on the diamond.
“In terms of power, in terms of arm, in terms of foot speed, all of those things, we think he can be a baseball player,” Alderson noted.
“I think that is underscored by his competitiveness and his determination to succeed and to improve,” he added. “From our standpoint, this is another opportunity for us to develop a player and see where it goes. We understand most players don't make it to the major leagues."
Even if this one doesn’t, he could be worth millions to the organization, especially if he begins next season at 1904 Surf Ave.
And if the Mets try to continue claiming this has nothing to do with marketing and everything to do with baseball, ask them how many other 29-year-old ballplayers who haven’t swung a bat at a live pitch in a real game in over 10 years are drawing their “intrigue” these days.
As former New York Giants general manager George Young was fond of saying, “When they have to tell you it’s not about the money ... It’s definitely about the money.”