Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Columbia Fireflies' Ownership Defend Tim Tebow

Less than 24 hours ago the announcement came that Tim Tebow would be playing in Columbia, SC for the Fireflies. This led to the Greenville Drive twitter account making fun of the move and Tim Tebow. I reached out last night to Fireflies' Managing Owner Jason Freier for his reaction to the tweets and the assertion that Tebow is nothing more than a publicity stunt. Here is his statement in full:

I'm sure they meant it as a joke.
It is certainly unusual for someone to be playing class-A baseball at 29 but this isn't any normal guy or situation. 
This is a world class athlete and a champion.  It is a guy who has shown tremendous leadership, determination and work ethic in everything he has done.
He's 29 and trying to learn to do the hardest thing in sports--hit a baseball--so it is certainly an uphill battle. 
But anyone who is counting him out obviously hasn't paid attention to his career to date.
And there is no way in which this is a publicity stunt.  He is one of the most popular athletes in the country and he doesn't need publicity.  The Mets are only a season removed from being in the World Series and have some of the brightest and most marketable stars in the game--they don't need the publicity either.  Both the Mets and Tim Tebow are completely serious here and wouldn't be doing this otherwise.

Opening Day in Columbia is a little more than two weeks away. This should be fun.

Out of the Park Baseball 18 Review: Highlights

It is the most wonderful time of the year. The newest version of Out of the Park Baseball is on my computer. Here is a video I made while I was trying things out. I focused on the new highlight feature and a new feature from last year that got some love this time around.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trash Talking Tim Tebow

The news broke today that the New York Mets would be assigning Tim Tebow to their Single A affiliate in Columbia, SC. The news was met with trash talk but not from fans, from the Greenville Drive twitter account 

The Drive are the Single A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and play in the South Atlantic League with Tebow's brand new team.  The Greenville Drive didn't back down when they received some complaints.


The Greenville Drive eventually did apologize....sort of...

Welcome to Tebow Time in minor league baseball.

Tebow Time Coming To Columbia

More good news for Columbia, South Carolina. Not only is it home to Sweet 16 basketball teams but it will also be the minor league home for Tim Tebow. As some of you know, I am based in Columbia, SC and have been fortunate enough to get media credentials for the Fireflies. Looking forward to seeing Tebow up close and personal this season. Here is the press release from the Columbia Fireflies:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — ‘Tebow Time’ is coming to Columbia. Former Heisman Trophy winner and two-time BCS National Champion Tim Tebow will start his professional baseball career with the Columbia Fireflies, Mets Manager Terry Collins announced. Tebow will continue with the Mets in spring training at the team’s complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, before breaking camp the first week of April and heading to the Palmetto State’s capital.

 “No one works harder than Tim did this Spring,” said New York Mets manager Terry Collins in an interview today with Marc Carig from Newsday. “He was a pleasure to have around. What he wants is to improve. I’m sure he’ll be a great influence on the kids in Columbia and the fans will enjoy watching him play.”

 “Tim Tebow will bring major excitement and national attention to the Fireflies and city of Columbia,” said Fireflies President John Katz. “Baseball fans, sports fans and Tim Tebow fans will likely come from around the southeast to see him play. We expect this to add to the energy at Spirit Communications Park and around downtown Columbia, especially during our opening weekend (April 6-9)."

 Tebow signed with the Mets on September 8 and participated in three Florida Instructional League games, hitting a home run in his first at-bat. The 29-year-old finished 4-for-14 (.286) at the plate in those three games with two walks. Later in the fall, he played in 19 contests in the Arizona Fall League. The AFL annually features some of the best prospects in Minor League Baseball, primarily consisting of Double-A and Triple-A level players. Tebow finished with a .194 batting average (12-for-62) with two RBIs and eight walks. It was the first time the former NFL quarterback played organized baseball since his junior year of high school (Allen D. Nease High – Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida) in 2005.

 Barring anything unforeseen, Tebow will wear his number 15 jersey when he steps on the field for the Fireflies. “Tebow’s story is so compelling – from the BCS National Championships and the NFL playoffs to reinventing himself as a professional baseball player,” said Katz. “His humility, faith and unwavering commitment to better himself will bring a new dynamic to our clubhouse. Having a player that has achieved his level of success on two big stages will ultimately pay huge dividends for our players as they pursue their dreams of playing for the New York Mets.”

 After graduating from the University of Florida as the SEC’s all-time leader in total touchdowns (145 – a record he still holds today), Tebow was selected by the Denver Broncos with the 25th pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He started 11 games for the Broncos in 2011 and led Denver to an AFC West Division title and a playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card round – a game that ended with Tebow throwing an 80-yard touchdown strike to Demaryius Thomas in overtime. Tebow also played for the Jets, Patriots and Eagles during his six-year NFL career. While in college, the two-time first team All-American and SEC Player of the Year twice played in Columbia at Williams-Brice Stadium. Tebow led the Gators to victories over the Gamecocks during the 2007 and 2009 seasons – the latter occasion with his team ranked number one in the nation.

 Tebow is one of a just a few Heisman Trophy winners to also play professional baseball. Bo Jackson followed up his 1985 Heisman campaign by playing in both Major League Baseball (where he was an All Star in 1989) and the National Football League (where he was a Pro Bowler in 1990). Ricky Williams won college football’s most prestigious award in 1998 after spending parts of four summers as a Philadelphia Phillies farmhand. And Chris Weinke won the Heisman in 2000 after six years in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor league system.

 Tebow joins a select list of NFL players who also played professional baseball. Hall of Fame inductee and Broncos General Manager John Elway—for whom Tebow played while in Denver—played in the New York Yankees minor league system. Elway later went on to win two Super Bowls and make nine Pro Bowls during his 16-year NFL career. Others include eight-time NFL Pro Bowler and nine-year MLB veteran Deion Sanders, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson, nine-time Pro Bowler (and current San Francisco 49ers General Manager) John Lynch and former Atlanta Braves outfielder and Atlanta Falcons safety Brian Jordan.

 Perhaps the only distinction that trumps Tebow’s athletic accomplishments is the philanthropic work with his eponymously-named foundation. The Tim Tebow Foundation has aided under-privileged and ill children worldwide financially and spiritually since its inception in 2010.

 Individual game and partial and full season ticket plans for the 2017 season are now on sale. Visit FirefliesTickets.com, the Spirit Communications Park ticket office or call (803) 726-4487 for more information.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Greatness of George Brett

One of my all time favorite non-Red Sox players is George Brett. He is in that class of guys like Chipper Jones, Willie Mays, and Pete Rose. Guys who never played for the Red Sox but I wish they had.

I have always liked Brett and I even got to see him play 6 games in Fenway Park in 1990 and 1991. I recently went down a George Brett rabbit hole on the internet and I was reminded why I really liked him as a player.

The first thing I loved about him is that he hated the Yankees and still hates the Yankees. The Royals and the Yankees had some battles during the 70s and 80s and Brett was right in the middle of it all.

Brett was also a Yankee Killer, especially in the playoffs. Brett played in 17 postseason games against the Yankees and had 24 hits, 6 homers and 14 RBI. Not bad.

Here he is going deep three times in Game 3 of the 1978 ALCS

We all know what a prick Goose Gossage has become, here is Brett turning on a Gossage fastball in 1980 and sending it into the third deck of Yankee Stadium. Goose still has whiplash.

That hatred of the Yankees was on display in the 1977 ALCS when he was involved in one of the great fights in postseason history. Look out Graig Nettles!

George Brett was also smart . He broke into the big leagues at the age of 20 years old. He was single and stayed single until he turned 39 years of age in the final years of his career. It is safe to say he had fun. Chipper Jones should have used Brett as a role model. Chipper got married as he debuted in the majors and before long was caught up in a paternity suit with a girl that wasn't his wife. My wife, a Braves fan, still holds that against him.

 Brett didn't have the infidelity issues but in the 80s if you were single and over 30 the thought was you must be gay. George Brett talks about that in this great interview with Dan Patrick in 2014. Brett touches on his very fun personal life along with those gay rumors and how he dealt with them.

Last but not least is Brett's Hall of Fame speech in 1999. The entire speech was great but one part in particular stood out to me. He acknowledges how still hates the Yankees and then he addresses his brothers. Brett is the youngest of three. Ken Brett played in the majors but never became a superstar let alone a Hall of Famer. The oldest Brett brother didn't make the majors at all. Brett asks why he was the one that made it and through tears explains all he ever wanted to be was as good as them. I am a father of a son and two step-sons. All three love sports and are very competitive with each other. The youngest wants so badly to be like his older brothers. Is someone cutting onions in here?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Could David Ortiz Become The Next Johnny Bench?

Commissioner Manfred is worried about baseball's future and the appeal it has to the younger generation of fans. It made me think about my childhood and how I became such a huge baseball fan. I suddenly found myself on YouTube watching old episodes of This Week in Baseball and The Baseball Bunch. I thought to myself, why isn't there this time of programming for today's kids? Well, it could be on the way.

 The idea to bring The Baseball Bunch back isn't a new idea. In 2001 it was real close to coming back but was shelved by ESPN. Well, it is back on the table now and guess who is rumored to be this generation's Johnny Bench? You guessed it, David Ortiz. Can you think of a better fit? Me either. Here are the details on the possible revival of The Baseball Bunch:

 Steve Church began development on another Baseball Bunch, this time under a production shingle N-X211 Entertainment / CG Partners with actor John Goodman, This re-boot would still have a MLB star as host and Phillie Phanatic as the comic relief in a series of family friendly Saturday Night Live type skits, alongside a new cast of kids. In describing his vision for the premise of the show, Church stated "It's a little bit more scripted (oriented), (although) we're still going to have that Big League tip in there. We're still going to have the host's friends come on the show and teach the kids how to play the game. Those elements are going to still be there."

Recently (2016) WME/IMG Sports contacted Church's agent Jason Dravis, President of The Dravis Agency in Studio City, California, (properties include Hunger Games, Hugo) talks and development is underway for the reboot of the Baseball Bunch. Short list of potential hosts are rumored to be David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, and the Phillie Phanatic. Sources close to the project say WME/ IMG sees the Baseball Bunch Series as a launch to expand and spin off into other sports series runs such as Football, Hockey, Basketball, branding with the IMG Academy.

Here is a classic Baseball Bunch episode with Gary Carter. Enjoy