In a Friday announcement, the New York Mets once again officially invited Tim Tebow to join the Major League Baseball team for spring training in St. Lucie, Florida. The popular Christian athlete's fans are speculating if this invite puts Tebow one step closer to promotion to the major league from the Mets' Class A affiliate team, the Fireflies. Still, many naysayers believe the underdog hitter is simply being picked because he will fill stadiums.
The former NFL star quarterback played for the Mets' minor league system through 2017, batting .226 with eight home runs and 52 RBIs over the course of 126 games. Tebow began the season in Columbia, South Carolina, in the South Atlantic League but was promoted to the Florida State League to play for Class A St. Lucie late in June.
Tebow, 30, came out the gate swinging for St. Lucie. He batted .317 in his first 25 games and had a 12-game hitting streak while playing outfield and as a designated hitter. According to ESPN, Tebow landed at No. 85 out of 93 qualified hitters in the South Atlantic League at the time and was still promoted to high A ball.
The Mets' newest invite to big league camp once again guarantees that Tebow will be in the lineup and actually play in the spring training games.
Many sports fans and commentators have criticized the Heisman Trophy winner's talent in playing baseball, claiming that he only has a position in the sport because his name will sell t-shirts, jerseys, and tickets. Still, Tebow continues, undaunted, to defy the odds by advancing his career on the field.
"It's not something that I have to answer," Tebow said of his critics' claims at the 2017 SABR press conference. "I just try to go out there and try to work. A lot more smarter, wiser people than me that make those decisions."
Due largely in part to his celebrity status, Tebow boosted the Fireflies' average attendance up nearly 40 percent over a year ago.
Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson confirmed the criticisms, in part, in a statement to fans about the pleasure of having Tebow a part of the Mets family: "We signed him because he is a good guy, partly because of his celebrity, partly because this is an entertainment business...My attitude is 'why not?'"