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Sunday Mail: On cutting Tim Tebow, the dream Boston sports roundtable, and more

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  September 1, 2013 07:23 AM

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LEADING OFF

I do wish Tim Tebow was a worthy NFL player. Whether you agree with his personal beliefs or not, he does seem to be a genuinely kind human being who habitually goes above and beyond to make other people feel good about themselves.

Football matters to him, and as someone who fulfills wishes of so many others, you'd like to see his rewarded too, especially because he works so hard to make it happen.

The problem, as confirmed by the Patriots Saturday, is that he's just not good enough at the game to make it happen. You know the flaws: Uncle Rico had better mechanics, and Tebow's painfully slow decision-making only serves to show how difficult it is to play quarterback in the NFL adequately, let alone at the level of Tom Brady.

The decision to cut him told us this: Bill Belichick wasn't seeing anything there that we couldn't recognize, no unique way of utilizing that weird array of skills that were historically useful at the college level but just don't translate to the NFL.

And we can all admit that John Elway was right: his success two years ago makes Jose Iglesias's offensive success this year look like the most logical thing in the world. I joked yesterday that the Bills would sign Tebow and start him against the Patriots in Week 1, a warped version of the Lawyer Milloy situation a decade ago. But the truth is that the Bills cut a better pure passer earlier in the week. And Matt Leinart is a disaster in his own right.


The truly remarkable thing is that there was any doubt at all about whether he'd stick. If a player without the cultural reverence and reference of Tebow had performed the way he did in the preseason, you'd wonder why he wasn't cut long before the final pruning of the roster. The Patriots cut better players Saturday -- Zoltan Mesko, for one, and he's every bit Tebow's peer in the community. I'd bet George Winn has an NFL future, and I'm pretty sure no one bought his jersey during training camp.

It's always sad to see an athlete's dream deferred. Tebow has our sympathy for that. But he wasn't good enough, and letting him go for a better, lesser-known player is the right kind of justice.

THE MAILBOX

Three Boston sports figures, living or not at your table at Union Oyster House. I got Gammons, Oil Can, and In Bill We Trust in the hopes I can get him drunk enough to spill 30+ years of unfiltered knowledge/stories. Who do you have?
-- Andy

I love questions like this. Pretty tough to top what "Sports Final" did back in, I believe, '92, getting Larry Bird, Ted Williams, and Bobby Orr together for one show.

That's pretty great. Imagine how much greater it would be with the beverages flowing. (Or on cable.) I'm with you on Belichick, though. He can join our panel too. I hope his love of football books leads him to write the one to trump them all when his career is over. Personally, as someone whose adoration for the '80s Celtics grows each year, I'd love to have a few beers with Bird, Kevin McHale, and Bill Walton. And we're going to Santarpio's, by the way. Unless Larry says otherwise.

davisericfinn91mail.jpgAm I crazy to see a young Ellis Burks when I watch Adam Jones play? Burks was a joy to watch in his early years. Such a shame that injuries kept him from fully realizing his potential.
-- John

Very similar -- Burks is actually fifth on Jones's similarity scores list on baseball-reference.com through age 26. (No. 1 is another ex-Red Sox outfielder, Reggie Smith, which is a great comp.) Burks was a little faster and Jones has more power and durability. Both are hugely likable players and regarded as class acts. But when I actually see Jones, I can't help but think of another supreme late-'80s outfielder, Eric Davis. He looks just like him. Davis could be his cool uncle or something.


I really hate the chatter that Stephen Drew will be resigned. Nothing against him but can we just give Xander Bogaerts a chance at shortstop? And why move Will Middlebrooks to first right now? I just don't get it.
-- MLB-54

Bogaerts will be in there somewhere. He's the surest thing to be a part of the 2014 Red Sox among the three. If they re-sign Drew, I don't think it impacts Bogaerts beyond a positional change for a couple of years, and maybe he'd still play short against lefties. But keeping Drew around ... I do wonder if that suggests Middlebrooks might be a piece in a blockbuster, a third or fourth prospect in a deal for Giancarlo Stanton or something like that. I've been skeptical of the move to first base because that's traditionally a power position, and his Russ Davis-like numbers thus far in his career really don't suggest he'd even be an average producer at that position. But third base is just as much of a power/production position as first base right now, so maybe they would move him across the diamond. If I had to guess, though, I'd say the more likely move is to another organization.

troutmikefinnmail91.jpgHow do you explain the drop-off for Mike Trout this year?
-- Ryan T.

[Activate Jim Mora "Playoffs?!" Voice:] Dropoff?! Dropoff?! Well, I guess he does have fewer homers (23 this year, 30 a year ago) and steals (29, down from 49). But ... dropoff?! There's no dropoff. His batting average, on-base percentage, walk total, slugging percentage, adjusted OPS, and OPS are all higher than a season ago, and he needs 32 total bases to surpass last year's total. He's been just as brilliant as he was during one of the greatest season's we'll ever see, and you should probably be made aware, sir, that the debate is going to rage again: Trout, not Miguel Cabera, leads the American League in WAR according to baseball-reference, and leads the majors according to Fangraphs version. (I'd vote for Miggy this year, but still ... Trout has been phenomenal again.)

Let's take one from Twitter:

I said a good question, James. I'm kind of kidding but isn't it a little early to judge anything that happened this offseason? I'm bummed it didn't work out with Wilson, just as I was bummed when it didn't work out with Tank Williams and John Lynch, because it's always fun to add a big-hitting safety to the secondary. But declaring the offseason a failure before they've played a regular-season down is something even Felger and Mazz would dismiss as premature. Maybe Tommy Kelly is just what they need to complement Vince Wilfork on the defensive line. They should be credited for keeping some of their own key guys, starting with Aqib Talib at a bargain rate. Danny Amendola is a fine signing, and aren't you excited about some of the apparent finds at receiver and tight end? I know it's disappointing when the name signings don't stick, but it's better than the alternative: keeping a player around just because of his name or because you don't want to look bad. (And for the record, Nick Offerman was just OK.)

THIS WEEK IN ANCIENT MEDIA GUIDES

The guide: 1977-78 New York Rangers.

rangers197778.jpg

Looks like Espo just punched a rebound in from the far post. No. 8 is very happy about that. So is his mustache.

The discovery: Could have gone with Ron Duguay in full Andy Gibb mode, but it was tough to trump this, an actual photo of a human head being engulfed by a swarm of hair:

tkazukwaltfinn.jpg

By the way, how often over the last 20 years or so do you think he had to say, "No, Keith isn't my son. No relation, actually. Yes, I'm serious. Different spelling. See, he's T-K-A-C-H-U-K ..."


Until next Sunday, the mailbox is closed. Exit music, please:

Manny, we gonna get that a.m. dial just right/I'll hold that hanger up/As long as the Sox put up a fight ...

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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