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Tim Tebow earns each team in the South Atlantic League an extra $44,200 a night

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Mock or applaud his baseball talents, but don’t deny his box office draw.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at New York Mets Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Tebow is a 29-year-old corner outfielder in Low-A, and he’s hitting .236/.319/.349. If he were a 19-year-old shortstop, it might be possible to spin those numbers and make an argument for a future major leaguer. Considering his age, position, and inexperience, the road to the show remains perilous and filled with bitey wolves.

People don’t care. And I can respect the heck out of that. People don’t care, and they’re paying for the privilege to watch Tebow play baseball. According to Baseball America, the Tebow bump for other teams in the South Atlantic League is real and quite measurable.

Based on the April attendance data, the Tebow effect appears to be roughly 2,210 fans per night. Minor league teams estimate that the average fan will spend $20 per person if they come to the ballpark. That counts ticket sales, concessions and souvenirs. So Tebow is worth roughly an additional $44,200 per night.

As I argued at the time, Tebow had the athleticism to win a danged Heisman Trophy, so it’s not that weird to gamble on him. There are about 330 players in the typical minor-league organization. About 290 of them will flame out before reaching the majors. Kids are drafted because they’re tall, with the hope they’ll add velocity. They’re drafted because they’re fast, and the organization hopes they will teach them how to hit.

If the players can’t do these things, they’re kicked out of the airplane. It’s cruel, but so is the entire industry. In this context, it’s not that strange to see if a football player can baseball better than he could football.

Now add in the money. That sweet, sweet cash. This doesn’t include all of the Tebow merchandise the Mets are grifting from fans who either don’t quite understand how far away he is from the majors or love a semi-ironic shirsey as much as the rest of us. These are benefits that, say, the Twins didn’t get when they kept the manager’s kid around in the minors. This is that, but more athleticism and a helluva lot more money.

So keep the Tebow experiment going until he absolutely proves that it’s not rust that’s hurting his numbers, but lack of talent. As long as he’s drawing crowds, the experiment makes sense.

And I’ll be on the Tebow beat, friends, because he brings an extra 44,200 clicks to the good folks at SB Nation, too. You clicked. Thank you for clicking. Maybe buy a shirsey to complete the set.