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

Florida Football Insiders



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.


Time for concern after XFL TV ratings declined again last week?

Florida Football Insiders



Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the second consecutive week, the XFL televison ratings continued to slide in the wrong direction. And, the troubling part is that if the trend continues, the XFL will have no leverage for sponsors and revenue to keep it going long term.

First, here are the specifics on the bad viewership news: According to all four XFL broadcasts last Saturday and Sunday afternoon had lower ratings in their slot than the previous week.

That includes the Tampa Bay Vipers home debut against Houston, which was the early game on ABC Saturday. And, while that window had 400,000 less viewers than week 2, the bigger concern is ABC has lost almost 40% of the audience from the 3.3 million average that watched their Week one debut game on Saturday afternoon.

The ratings downward trend is following the same pattern as last Spring’s Alliance of American Football, where the ratings dwindled to under a million fans for broadcasts by week five and eventually the league shut down after just eight weeks. This was in part because of concerns on how the AAF could make any revenue, through television in specific, if they had very little audience for the end of year one and to sell off of for year two.

Now, WWE owner Vince McMahon, who folded the XFL the first time in 2001 in large part because the television audience plummeted over the course of the first month or so of its existence and never recovered, has the same issue in 2020.

And, as we wrote previously, this audience decline while negative is far less McMahon’s original XFL and it’s first season of 2001.  That’s when, it debuted on its first Saturday night on NBC with a massive 10.1 rating, which translated 18 years ago to more than 9.5 viewers on network TV. A Smashing success.

However, the XFL’s ratings plummeted starting the following week and had fewer than 25% of that opening night audience just a month later with the games still being shown on a Saturday night coveted slot on NBC. It doomed the league from a P.R. and sponsor standpoint and McMahon pulled the plug.

Now, in 2020, McMahon reportedly has money to burn and is apparently prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in year one. So, even if the XFL TV ratings continue come down significantly, it will not spell the end of the XFL (like it did nearly 20 years ago) after just a single season.

At least, that’s what we think.

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Vipers better but drop third straight game in home opener

Florida Football Insiders



Mary Holt- USA Today Sports

Although their play was improved offensively, in the end it wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Vipers after they dropped their third straight XFL game to start the season 34 – 27 to Houston Saturday afternoon in Tampa.

Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, as Houston scored early in the fourth quarter to go up by seven and held off the Viper the rest of the way.

The Vipers offense came to life after they had failed to score in the offensive touchdown in either of their first two games. Both of which were losses on the road. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius, subbing for starter Aaron Murray who missed his second straight game with an injured foot, once again had modest numbers 16-31 for 193 yards 1 TD, 1 INT.

However, he did pull the game even at 18 – 18 at the half after scoring on a one yard QB sneak and Tampa Bay got the two-point conversion.

Still, the former Oklahoma State quarterbacks day was inconsistent and the home crowd at Raymond James Stadium began to chant the name “Flowers, Flowers” for former USF Star Quarterback Quinton Flowers, who played sparingly for the third straight game in a reserve role.

Flowers got Tampa Bay’s first offensive TD on the young season with a seven yard run in the first quarter, but only played QB sparingly in the game, again. He was just 4-6 for 57 yards passing with 29 yards on six attempts on the ground.

Meanwhile, the former Temple star Walker found receiver Cam Phillips for the third of their three touchdown hookups from 17 yards out to give Houston a 34 – 27 lead with just over 10 minutes to play. Phillips devastated Jerry Glanville’s Vipers defense for 194 yards receiving on eight catches with the three TDs.

The Vipers look like they were going to have a chance to re-tie the game when Cornelius (above) completed a pass to his top target on the day, Jaylen Tolliver, at the two-yard line. However just like a week ago in Seattle when a critical fourth quarter drive stalled and Tampa Bay came away with no points in a 17 – 9 lost the Dragons, the Vipers got no points after Cornelius threw incomplete on second, third and fourth downs.

Many in the crowd and observers in the media were curious, as to why coach Marc Trestman didn’t go to Flowers as the dual threat running QB to at least try something different on one of those plays? Flowers even questioned why he did not play more after the game to the media.

The Vipers got the ball one final time, but Cornelius was picked off near midfield with just over a minute left to seal the defeat.

The Vipers played the first spring professional football game in Tampa, since the closing of the USFL 1985 season. That’s when Steve Spurrier’s Tampa Bay Bandits were a popular item at Old Tampa Stadium. Saturday’s home opener drew and announced crowd of 18,117.

However it’s little consolation for former Bears and CFL coach Trestman and his team, as they remain winless on the season. The L.A. Wildcats playing Sunday are the other 0-2 team in the league, currently.

And, you have to wonder whether Trestman will be forced to go to Flowers for the start when they host the D.C. Defenders next week.

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