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Sunday Sports: After Leaving Football, Tim Tebow Tries His Hand At Baseball


And it's time now for sports. The Broncos beat the Panthers in the first game of the NFL season on Thursday. But get those nachos in the oven 'cause there are a whopping 13 games today. Mike Pesca hosts "The Gist" podcast on Slate. He joins me now. Good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: My nachos are in the oven.


PESCA: My nachos are perpetually in the oven (laughter).

MARTIN: I knew you would not let me down. So this is a little bit of a head fake 'cause we're going to talk about football kind of 'cause we're going to talk about Tim Tebow - right?...

PESCA: Yeah.

MARTIN: Who was a professional football player and apparently is trying to be a different kind of professional athlete now.

PESCA: Well, as a sports reporter, I want to thank Tim Tebow for constantly giving us fodder and, in this case, a segue way.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

PESCA: Yes, he has a dream to play baseball. He's 29 years old. And he had a tryout. And the Mets signed him to low, low minor league status. Now...

MARTIN: But they signed him. He must be pretty good.

PESCA: I don't know.

MARTIN: OK (laughter).

PESCA: I think that the scouts say that he can actually hit the ball pretty far when the pitcher isn't that skilled or trying.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

PESCA: And also, for a guy who used to be a quarterback, he doesn't have that good an arm. But if you know anything about Tim Tebow, that might not surprise you.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

PESCA: But here's what I was - everyone - I don't know everyone - but so many people have the attitude of - why is Tim Tebow doing this? He wants attention? I've heard, I can't believe we're talking about a guy who doesn't have the chance to make the major leagues. I've also heard, he's taking the slot from a more deserving person. There are 6,000 minor league players. And if Tim Tebow, a guy with a dream...

MARTIN: (Laughter).

PESCA: ...Wants to pursue it, and if the Mets want to sign him, I just - I don't feel sorry for Tim Tebow. But I think he's, perhaps, one of the greatest athletes. It's just that there's no professional sport that comports to his particular skillset.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

PESCA: He's one of the greatest college players ever. Just - at the NFL game, it's more about throwing in a throwing motion.


PESCA: So go, Tim Tebow. And thank you for providing a segue way. Can we talk about some baseball now?

MARTIN: Yeah. Let's talk about some baseball 'cause I hear - I mean, speaking of, like, arms and throwing, these people who are on the pitcher's mound are hurting themselves a lot. How come?

PESCA: Yeah. We're not exactly sure how come, though. There's pretty good theories. And Jeff Passan from Yahoo has written a book about it. So some stats are there are about 730 different players who've pitched in the major leagues.

And that is approaching a record. And the average start is less than six innings. Now, you know, a baseball game is nine innings. So starters aren't even getting two-thirds of their work done. And here's another data point.

The Blue Jays are on a pace to become the first team in the history of baseball never to have a starter complete a - have a complete game - pitch a complete game. And what's going on is baseball is evolving into this sport where all they want pitchers to do is pitch as hard as they can all the time. And because of this, arms burn out. Arms get hurt.

MARTIN: And it didn't used to be that way? It was like they let you kind of work up to it or something?

PESCA: Well, I think with great pitchers - you know, if you talk to Bob Gibson or some of these great old pitchers of yore, they would say there are certain innings and certain batters that you'd look - used to take off of. The other batters maybe weren't as good. But I just think it's biology. Like, we always talk about how the cheetah has the highest speed. Yes, for seconds at a time.

MARTIN: Do we always talk about that? OK, yeah (laughter).

PESCA: I always talk about that. But, you know, the antelope can run faster - not faster - but almost as fast for longer. And you either have - you could go long or you could go hard. But you really can't...

MARTIN: Can't do both.

PESCA: I don't think an animal could go that hard for that long without breaking down. And that's what we're seeing in baseball. It's a spate of arm injuries.

MARTIN: Mike Pesca - he hosts "The Gist" "podcast. Mike, your nachos are burning. Go get them.

PESCA: (Laughter).

MARTIN: See you later. Thank you.

PESCA: Bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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