We can't quit you, Tim Tebow.
Look, here's all I'm going to say after Tebow cracked a home run in his first minor league at-bat for the Columbia Fireflies: I don't get the people who get so angry about him playing for the New York Mets' low Class A South Atlantic League team. Yes, it's essentially nothing more than a cheap marketing stunt to sell a few extra jerseys, but the suggestion that he's costing a more-deserving player a chance at the majors is a pretty weak argument. The Mets' low-A affiliate from 2011 has seen two position players reach the majors -- Darrell Ceciliani and Wilfredo Tovar, and if you've heard of those two you're a die-hard's die-hard.
There's also the argument that Tebow will end up stealing some of the spotlight from actual deserving major league players. As Jayson Stark wrote the other day, baseball is lacking a face of the sport when you consider the only three baseball players to show up in a recent poll of America's 50 favorite athletes were Derek Jeter (retired), Babe Ruth (dead) and Pete Rose (banned).
While it would be nice if there were a LeBron of baseball, I don't think it's essential to the viability or even popularity of the sport. Whether fans will pay more attention to Francisco Lindor or Carlos Correa or Mike Trout or Kris Bryant has nothing to do with Tebow. Blaming the media is also a poor excuse: Fans -- maybe not you -- are interested in Tebow for reasons that I don't fully understand, but you can't ignore that many are interested.
As for Tebow the baseball player, no, he's not a legitimate prospect. After that home run, he struck out three times and grounded out.
First at-bat in the minors for Tim Tebow ➡️ first home run in the minors for Tim Tebow. https://t.co/xQWxseWNZx— ESPN (@espn) April 7, 2017
Play of the day: Maybe it was just static electricity. So this happened to Yadier Molina:
As funny as it was, it turned out to be crucial play in the St. Louis Cardinals' 6-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs, which explains why Molina wasn't in a joking mood about it after the game. Asked if he put anything on his chest protector, Molina replied, "That's a dumb question."
Except it wasn't a dumb question! It was a very good and obvious question. Matt Szczur reached on the play, Jon Jay followed with a walk and then Kyle Schwarber launched the go-ahead three-run homer off Brett Cecil.
Of course, Cubs fans cried foul. No wonder Molina is so good! He's doctoring the baseballs for his pitchers! Yes, applying a foreign substance to the ball -- which seemed to be the case here -- is certainly illegal, but it's also one of those rules that everyone basically ignores, as long as you're not too obvious about it, like Michael Pineda a few years ago. For example, pitchers often will put a little sunscreen on their forearm to help their grip. Hitters are OK with this, not only because their pitchers are doing the same thing, but because they don't want pitchers throwing a slippery baseball. Read Mark Saxon's postgame report and you can see the Cubs weren't upset, with Schwarber even pointing out catchers often put a little pine tar on their shin guards.
Now, if the Cubs had lost the game ...
Yadier Molina gets caught with Pine Tar on his catching gear and we all laugh. Brady flattens footballs and goes to court. Hilarious!— The Upstart (@TheCrassJaw) April 6, 2017
Well, we know Yasiel Puig can hit 85 mph fastballs up in the zone. OK, it was Jered Weaver pitching and Jered Weaver doesn't exactly throw hard. Still, it's always fun when Puig is doing something good, and maybe his second career two-homer game -- and first since 2013 -- will get him going this year after a slow start in 2016, when he had a .650 OPS through May with 42 strikeouts and just nine walks. He was criticized for not having any plan at the plate, and it showed in that strikeout-to-walk ratio. He also drew two walks on Thursday, which is maybe just as important a takeaway as the two home runs. I'm not quite ready to give up on a healthy Puig putting up numbers that will makes Dodgers fans happy.
Yasiel Puig has two home runs and two walks today but I won't say he's officially back until he misses the cut-off man.— Ned2point0 (@Ned2point0) April 6, 2017
You don't see this every day, but you may see it again. In spring training, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen talked about his desire to be a two-way player and manager Bryan Price suggested he'd use the reliever as a pinch hitter at times. That plan came together when Lorenzen became the first pitcher with a pinch-hit homer since Micah Owings in 2009. It was also a big home run, giving the Reds a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Lorenzen hit .250 (9-for-36) when he started 21 times as a rookie in 2015, but batted just five times last year -- his one hit was a home run.
Even if he can rake a bit, the difficulty will be finding situations in which to deploy him, since he has developed into the Reds' top setup guy. Price clearly didn't intend to use Lorenzen on Thursday after he had pitched on Monday and Wednesday, plus there were two outs and nobody on when he batted. If a pinch hitter were needed to lead off an inning, Price may have used a position player more likely to get on base. At the least, in these days of short benches, and especially in the National League, where you need more pinch hitters, having a pitcher you can use off the bench is a nice weapon to have.
Mariners fans walk to edge of cliff, decide not to jump. Trailing 2-1 in the sixth, the Seattle Mariners were staring at a season-opening four-game sweep to the Houston Astros, but they tied the score that inning and then won it with two runs in the ninth off Astros closer Ken Giles. That means I can't use this factoid: Ten teams in the division era (since 1969) had started 0-4 or worse and made the playoffs, the last being the 2012 Atlanta Braves, who started 0-4. The 2011 Tampa Bay Rays started 0-6 and still won 91 games and made the playoffs. Tricked you! I used it anyway.
Since Mariners were in the playoffs we've had:— CT (@ColinCT206) April 5, 2017
4 Star Wars Films
5 James Bond Movies
7 Kanye Albums
18 Federer majors