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Don’t look now, but someone is hitting the baseball in Double A

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Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Life is never dull around Tim Tebow, and if you haven’t been paying attention (we obviously have) the iconic former Gators star QB is making legitimate progress the last two months towards potentially playing in Major League Baseball with the New York Mets.

We wrote last summer about his progress through the Mets farm system and the lowest level, Single A baseball, and that this was no longer just a P.R. stunt for the team and Tebow, himself.

Well, after a slow start in Mets Spring training that included an ankle injury (more on that in a second), Tebow is starting improve at the plate.

And as New York’s Newsday newspaper profiled for Friday, that improvement is leading to more credibility that the Mets would have to bring him up at some point:

Frankly, hitting is his only real hope to make it to the big club and try to play. He’s too muscular and his throwing is too cumbersome to be much more than a first baseman or right fielder, who’s not going to see a lot of plays that require lots of running and throwing. The Double A “Rumble Ponies” have used him as an outfielder primarily, and maybe his position play could slightly improve.

However, Tebow is actually probably best suited for an American League situation, which the Mets are not, and become a designated hitter or DH, for a team. Then, he doesn’t and the team doesn’t, have to worry about his fielding-only what he can do to help at the dish.

It’s interesting that he told Newsday that his Spring Training mishap with tripping over a sprinkler was actually an ankle fracture, not a sprain. However, it appears at this juncture he has recovered, and wants to continue his goal.

And, important point, he’s living a “rock star” life everywhere else, besides this minor league baseball experiment. He’s a Heisman Trophy and National Championship winning college football hero in Gainesville. And, he’s kept his job traveling around every weekend with the SEC Network, while reportedly making seven figures to do it,  covering games and commentating on the conference.

He’s been a former NFL QB, who despite the haters trying to knock him down, actually won some games and even a playoff game with Broncos, while making millions of dollars to do that.

It’s undisputed that his repeated charity work off the field, especially with sick children at Shands Hospital in Gainesville and other places, plus his great work that he’s continued with his foundation for a decade, are  inspirational and should be credited.

So, Tebow doesn’t have to be riding a minor league bus for 8-10 hours, as Newsday describes. Unless wanting to make it the Mets or some other major league club for a shot, really matters to him. Which, to Tebow, it apparently still does.

Can he continue to hit at Double A? Quite possible.

Will Triple A be too much for him or would the Mets bypass that/call him up directly from Binghampton in September when rosters expand?

Will he ever be able to hit big time professional pitching, even briefly, from Triple A or MLB pitchers?

We don’t have any of those answers.

All we know is he’s making progress towards it. And the haters who wrote him and the Mets experiment off for a lot of reasons, are looking more and more foolish, as he progresses.

(That isn’t going to stop the hate, by the way).

And there are tons of people, not all bleeding Gators orange and blue, rooting for him to make it to the big club and try.

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New Jersey authorities charge Janoris Jenkins brother in homicide at his home

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

It only took a little over 24 hours for authorities in Bergen County, New Jersey to make an arrest in the homicide at the home of New York Giants defensive back Janoris Jenkins. And as it turns out, Jenkins older brother William is being charged aggravated manslaughter in the death of 25-year-old Roosevelt Rene.

Rene, who had been staying at the Jenkins home as a guest and friend of the family, was found by a worker in the basement of the home on Tuesday morning.

The 34 year old older brother, William Jenkins had been taken into custody early Tuesday in New Jersey and was sent to Ontario County, New York on a parole violation. He is in the process of being extradited across the New York/New Jersey state lines to Bergen County to face the manslaughter charge.

On Monday evening the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that Rene had been strangled or suffocated to death.

Meanwhile. Janoris Jenkins, who just completed his second season with the Giants after signing as a free agent, is reportedly still in Florida. And, he has yet to comment either himself or through a spokesperson about the death at his home.

Janoris Jenkins was not believed to have been home this weekend as neighbors  reported that he and his girlfriend had gone to Florida two weeks ago after Giants mini-camp at concluded.

The Giants have had no comment other than they are monitoring the situation.

As we wrote on Monday, Jenkins is a former star at Pahokee High School where they won the state championship and was part of the Gators National Championship season of 2008 as a freshman in Gainesville.

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Is there a referee crisis for the NFL?

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the past couple of weeks a story has developed that isn’t getting nearly as much attention as it probably should.

Yes, whether or not Bucs QB Jameis Winston is suspended for at least the first three games of the season is a big deal.

Whether or not Quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski are happy or unhappy with the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick is also a big deal.

And yes, whether or not players, like Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, can get new contracts or will be holding out come training camp next month is again, a big deal.

However, we haven’t seen nearly as much coverage on something that is also very significant once the game start being played. There are four former NFL referees from a year ago that have all resigned/retired and that’s a big number all at once.

As is laid out here, with the NBC official announcement Thursday that former referee Terry McAulay will be joining NBC Sunday Night Football in the booth, that means three of them will be in the Network TV booth this fall:

There has already been some eyebrow raising at Triplette going to Monday Night Football as a rules expert for ESPN, but they obviously had a need when Gerry Austin agreed to go join former MNF analyst Jon Gruden in a newly created position with the Raiders.

And as for Steratore, who worked Superbowl 52 last year, he will serve not only in the booth with the Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, but will be used as a college basketball rules analyst this winter for CBS’ hoops coverage. He’s shown above dealing with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll being on the field and flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct in their December loss at the Jaguars.

The fourth referee is Ed Hochuli, who is retiring and yet to have a TV role, if there is one for him.

The bigger point is that everyone of these head referees are long time veterans and represent approximately 25-30% of the referees who work weekends in the NFL.

And in the cases of Steratore and McAulay, they are younger than Triplette and Hochuli, and could have conceivably been referees another 10 years or so, had they wanted.

So, why didn’t they want to continue?

Former supervisor of the NFL officials and now Fox TV rules analyst, Mike Pereira, has repeatedly expressed that due to the micromanaging that HD replay reviews have caused, that many of the “rank and file” are disgruntled and discouraged.

And, if several on field officials can follow his lead and end up with a high paying network TV gig, then who can begrudge them?

Still, we at F.F.I. can’t hope but wonder if this kind of turnover with head referees will have some effect with the new ones taking over botching calls or situations come this fall.

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Former Bucs first round pick McCants arrested, again

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The sad tale of former Buccaneers number one pick Keith McCants continues, as early Monday morning he was arrested, yet again, this time in St. Petersburg for drug possession.

McCants, who was taken fourth overall as the Bucs first round pick in 1990, was booked in the Pinellas County jail for felony possession of crack cocaine.

According to jail records, this is the ninth different time that McCants has been arrested on some charge in the Tampa Bay area in the last eight years.

McCants, now 50 years old, never lived up to the billing of being taken in the top five, as he played only three seasons in Tampa Bay,. He battled weight and knee problems and only registered 12 sacks in three seasons. He also played for the Oilers and the Cardinals in subsequent seasons, but was out of the NFL by 1995.

McCants has repeatedly tried to get his life in order, including giving motivational speeches and writing an essay in the Sporting News in 2011 warning younger players about dangers with drugs, etc. and his troubles. 

The former Alabama All American was also featured on the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Broke” in 2012, where he detailed how he had lost all of his $4.5 million dollars from his playing career.

McCants was booked at 4:24 a.m. in the Pinellas County Jail Monday morning and bonded out at $2,000  on the felony charge for drug possession, and also for driving with a revoked or suspended license.

One of McCants previous arrests was for driving with a suspended license in January of this year and he was to have stood trial on July 10th on that charge.

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