Logo for the DFR Audible post categoryDog Days Digest

We’re deep in the dog days of August, which means baseball is generally just chugging along, the shine of the early season worn off but still no conclusions drawn yet. There were, however, a few developments recently which I can’t let pass by without at least making a few quick comments.

And no, I don’t mean the saga of the Royals’ Rally Mantis, who showed up, died (maybe), came back to life (maybe), and does seem to have pumped some life back into Kansas City’s season (six game winning streak as of this writing).

We’ll leave the question of whether we’ve met the Insect Christ for another time; in other news, baseball’s injury epidemic is now so bad that even a knuckleballer has come down with a sore shoulder, and Tim Tebow looks like he’s reached the fourteen minute and fifty-eight second mark of his fifteen minutes of fame.

Even given the odd nature of the Rally Mantis story, the most surreal headline of baseball’s last week may have been this: Knuckleballer Steven Wright lands on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. How is that even possible? Well, it turns out Wright didn’t hurt his shoulder pitching; no, he got his boo-boo while pinch-running.

Baseball has a rich tradition of guys injuring themselves in a variety of stupid ways; Glenallen Hill, former outfielder and well-known arachnophobe, once hurt himself while dreaming about spiders. (Maybe he should meet the spider-eating Rally Mantis; they could be buds.) But the irony of a knuckleballer coming down with a sore shoulder–but not from pitching, of course–has got to put Wright well up on the list of weirdo trips to the DL.

Still, it’s worth noting that teams across MLB are using the disabled list the same way most poeple eat popcorn. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that baseball is on a pace to set a new record in trips to the DL, eclipsing the mark set just last year.

That same piece points an accusing finger at the majors’ travel schedule. Maybe. I just wonder if injuries are really more likely when you’re flying chartered jets as opposed to back in the day, when all travel–except for a few crosstown bus rides–was done by train (in cramped compartments, at that).

Of course, the drug bans probably haven’t helped keep guys off the DL. Recovery times aren’t as short as they used to be.

Nevertheless, players get injured so easily these days that there must be something more going on than just travel schedules and lack of PEDs. There must be something terribly wrong with the way major league teams are handling their conditioning work. Reexamining the whole thing from top to bottom must be made a priority.

But it’s still nice to know that at least some of the injuries are just dopes who flub it when trying to do something as simple as running around the bases.

One guy who is very unlikely to make many trips around major league basepaths is Tim Tebow. That’s not going to stop him from trying…to make a buck off the idea.

We were helpfully informed this past week that Tebow’s reported effort to get a tryout with a team, and perhaps a roster spot on a farm club, has already yielded one net result: he’s making money by selling signed memorabilia. Memorabilia of…what exactly? His workouts in his back yard? One supposes. He can’t have any “game used” pieces yet, but sales are, apparently, already being made.

This marks a turn in the tale of Tebow, and one that perhaps signals the end of his time in the limelight.

At Florida, Tebow was a great college football player, though one who was a bit polarizing because of his rather overt religiosity.

He became more sympathetic during his brief NFL career, if for no other reason than the fact that he seemed to get substantially less of an opportunity than his previous accomplishments merited. Tebow helped get the Broncos a playoff win in his one season as their quarterback; then he seemed to take more of the blame than he deserved when Denver was blown out in their next playoff game against New England–as if his was the first team to get blown out in the playoffs by the Patriots. (The same thing happened to Andrew Luck a couple of years ago–you remember the Deflation Crisis, no?–and no one seems to have written Luck off as an NFL quarterback.)

Tebow’s subsequent bouncing from team to team, always as a marginal option on whichever team he suited up for, seemed a fate out of proportion with his potential–but perhaps in line with the NFL’s penchant for misjudging talent by looking for a fit for a mold, rather than accomplishments and past record. Tebow seemed destined for a career behind a microphone, as much because he was forced into it as anything else.

And now, this baseball excursion, and the real possibility that Tebow has slipped back down the likeability meter with a stunt that–given the memorabilia selling scheme–is looking less and less like pursuing a dream and more and more like a grift designed to swindle whatever fans are left from the Gator days, true believers who will eat up–and pay for–anything their former hero will tries to sell.

If Tebow had at least waited until some team signed him to a minor league deal, maybe holding a signatures bazaar would have seemed a little less unseemly. But then again, that’s probably the point: Tebow could see that getting signed was unlikely in any event, and waiting for that lack of a call wasn’t an option. Plain truth: when you’re done, you’re done. I just wish that fans had the sense to recognize that fact, even if Tebow doesn’t.


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