So poor lil Tim Tebow, the world-famous football refugee and circumcision doer now trying his hand at baseball, prepared for his first spring-training plate appearance for the New York Mets yesterday by doddering all the way around behind home plate, from the third-base dugout to the first-base side, to take his practice swings from the wrong on-deck circle. Whoops!
The umpire had to send him back to the correct on-deck circle. “I thought you walk around because you’re a left-hander,” Tebow said afterward. “I found out you don’t do that.” He told the New York Post, “Definitely there’s a lot of things I’m trying to play catch-up on.” I’ll say!
Except for, nah, he did not actually think that. Of course he didn’t! Tim Tebow played high-level baseball in high school. He also—as noted by a smart commenter earlier this morning—recorded 123 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League less than a year ago. He knows where the hell you go to take your practice swings when you’re on deck. Of course he does. He has known it for decades. That is not something that someone who has been playing baseball since he was a child will just forget. It is not something that anyone who has ever watched a single baseball game on TV would not know. It is not something that someone who batted a couple spots behind fellow lefty Lucas Duda would not know.
On the other hand, wandering over to the wrong on-deck circle like a lost doofus is terrific and canny theater if, just as a hypothetical example, you happen to be an extremely brand-conscious professional celebrity whose fame is rooted entirely in the pretense that faith and God’s grace alone will suffice to bring you glory in any pursuit, and you’re looking to play up the “Hey, I’m just a humble hardworking pilgrim in a strange land” angle right before the whole world watches you take your first-ever PA for a big-league ball club.
As a risk-versus-reward proposition, it’s as safe as safe can be: If that (purely hypothetical, of course) celebrity somehow socks a mighty dinger in the ensuing PA, why, he’s Sidd Finch crossed with Jesus Christ, the humble naïf who doesn’t even know where the on-deck circle is, but through the power of prayer stood in against a big-league pitcher and mashed a tater into the sky! But if, say, he stands there like a big dumb deer and gets gassed up by four consecutive arrow-straight and mediocre fastballs, well, what did you expect from the poor guy? He doesn’t even know where the on-deck circle is.
Of course, in that (purely hypothetical!) case, this performance would reveal our (purely hypothetical!) celebrity to be an extremely gross phony. Now Tim Tebow’s fans will join him in pretending not to know things.