Tim Tebow: Alex Rodriguez thinks he’s the next Bryce Harper

MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: Bryce Harper
MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: Bryce Harper /

Could remarks by Alex Rodriguez and a few more hits by Double-A player Tim Tebow produce one day the most unlikely MLB All-Star ever?

MLB weirdness: is Tim Tebow actually a potential All-Star?

Some readers may have caught at least some of the Philadelphia Phillies – Washington Nationals Sunday Night Baseball matchup June 24, even if they didn’t watch all of the rain-delayed game.

Some may have also heard the early-game comments by Alex Rodriguez about Bryce Harper. They are the genesis of this meditation on the definition of an All-Star.

Alex Rodriguez remarked at one point that it “doesn’t matter” whether or not Nationals star Bryce Harper “is hitting .200 or .300.” He’s still an “elite” player and should be an All-Star. See, some people have questioned that this year since, despite leading the NL with 19 home runs, Harper is only hitting .219.

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It’s an interesting point of debate for fans and pundits, and someone who agrees with Rodriguez can vote for Harper or any other player putting up somewhat suspect numbers. As everyone knows, starting All-Star position players are selected by fan vote.

However, that isn’t the point here, nor is Washington’s comeback victory over Philadelphia that night. What’s more intriguing is A-Rod’s seeming definition of an “elite” player.

It’s not just doing well in the season a fan might vote for him. Neither is it being a long-time high-level producer (such as Willie Mays or Nolan Ryan, Justin Verlander or Adrian Beltre).

No. Rodriguez spoke of “the double bottom line,” meaning a player who affects both what happens “inside the lines” and…ready for it? The gate.

The measure of the repeat All-Star, he implied, should not be his batting average, earned run average, or home run total. To go back again and again to the so-called mid-summer classic, a player needs to put butts in stadium seats.

All right. That makes some sense, but it detracts from the value of performance on the field. Moreover, while there are times you can tell a stadium crowd’s there to see an individual player, most of the time you can’t. How can a player’s effect on the gate be accurately measured?

Who puts butts in seats? Harper? Mike Trout? Jose Altuve? Any player who has to wear an Atlanta Braves uniform? Those folks are pretty laid back in Georgia. It might not matter if the Braves arranged a pre-game naked 60-yard dash between Ronald Acuna and the visiting team’s fastest player.

If A-Rod’s remark weren’t so self-serving, it might be more palatable. See, it seems a 100 percent sure thing he’d “modestly” assert “perhaps” he was the sort of player who was “elite” by his definition.

That doesn’t mean he’s more wrong than right, however. Friends and I are going to Baltimore soon in part to see Mike Trout; I have personally witnessed Tim Tebow half fill a minor league stadium in the rain. Any other visiting player there that day would have added precisely zero additional fans.

And so we have come to the most intriguing of potential future stars by Rodriguez’ definition – yes, it’s Tebow. First, he sells tickets. Second, if he continues to improve, even at his advanced age, you may see an All-Star in MLB baseball who never comes close to hitting .250 or 35 home runs.

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On the other hand, Tim Tebow wasn’t born with A-Rod’s native baseball skills, and he didn’t learn the skills he should have when he should have, so in a weird way, he can be seen as an underdog to be embraced. His best year in the minors – at Double-A Binghamton this season – is starting to heat up.

In his last ten games, Tim Tebow has seven hits, five hits in his previous four games, including a home run. In that stretch, he hit .345. I’ve started to hope he keeps it up. And I have an All-Star vote if it comes to that. No, wait, I have lots of All-Star votes.