When Drew Henson left Michigan, he was following his dreams. Less than two years after signing his $17 million Yankee contract, the famous Benedict Arnold needs to be awakened from his fantasy world and shown how truly awful he is at our national pastime.

Paul Wong
Steve Jackson

“I’m a baseball player,” Henson told The New York Times last week. “I love the game of baseball. I love being a baseball player.”

Wake up Drew! You’re hitting less than .200 in the developmental Arizona Fall League.

Henson also said that the NFL “is the furthest thing from my mind.”

Wake up Drew! You’re leading your last-place team and the entire AFL in strikeouts and errors (32 Rob Deer specials and 11 Chuck Knoblauch tosses in just 32 games).

Whether or not Henson wants to admit it, he is a potentially Pro-Bowl-caliber quarterback that is trapped in pinstripes. Will he ever be the player that he was expected to be? The local scouts don’t make that prospect seem very promising.

After watching Henson swing at some atrocious pitches last week, including a curveball that bounced about five feet in front of him and a fastball at eye level, one scout told The New York Times that Henson “was overmatched and demonstrated no recognition of the strike zone and no discipline.”

If I were standing in the batter’s box that day, I imagine the scouts would say essentially the same thing. No one is offering me $17 million contracts for exactly that reason.

Henson’s manager, former Yankees pitcher Tommy John, said that the 6-foot-5 220-pound “Golden Boy” still needs to learn how to hit. How long will that take for the 22-year-old? According to John, Henson needs at least 1,000 more at bats and two more full seasons.

If the Yankees keep Robin Ventura until Henson is ready, he might still be manning the hot corner when Derek Jeter is giving his Hall of Fame speech.

The man that could have won a Heisman Trophy last fall now needs to get five hits in a row just to get his average up to his playing weight.

While Tom Brady, a player with much less talent and the source of much less hype entering Michigan, was winning Super Bowls and having a fling with the ultra-hot Tara Reid, Henson was striking out in Arizona and watching “American Pie” on the team bus.

If Henson had finished out his career at Michigan before embarking on this fruitless journey, most Michigan fans would have been cheering and supporting him all the way. But after Henson reneged on his promise to stay for his senior season and forced John Navarre into the starting role, Henson’s failures in minor league baseball were met with little sympathy in Ann Arbor.

It’s always been easy to be jealous of Henson; his career at Brighton High School is almost too impressive to believe.

In addition to his marvelous skills under center, Henson was an All-State basketball player. On top of being one of the best prep pitchers in the history of the state, Henson’s prodigious power at the plate was beyond compare. He set national records in home runs (70) and grand slams (10), and no high school player had ever driven in more runs (290) or scored more runs (259) than Henson.

Just in case you aren’t impressed by feats of athletic excellence, Henson was also valedictorian of his class and scored a 1360 on his SAT.

As a freshman, Henson hit the first pitch he saw over the fence; in his second game, he hit two grand slams.

He was a man among boys. Everyone from Lloyd Carr to George Steinbrenner thought that he could do no wrong, and every kid from Alpena to Ypsilanti envied him.

But despite all these honors, records and accomplishments, Henson and the people that worshipped him missed out on one key fact: Baseball is the most humbling of sports.

The list of amazing talents that failed to succeed in baseball is long for a reason.

Michael Jordan, the greatest athlete of this generation, found that no amount of hard work could give him the skills he needed to be a big-leaguer. Jim Thorpe excelled at everything from football to lacrosse, but he managed an on-base percentage of just .286 during his short stint as a baseball player. Danny Ainge, John Elway and Garth Brooks also did pretty well for themselves despite failing at baseball.

Josh Booty and Chad Hutchinson have already made the jump from third basemen to NFL quarterbacks in the last two years. ESPN.com expects that Henson will be selected late in this year’s NFL draft, just in case.

Wake up Drew! This might be your last chance.

Steve Jackson can be reached at sjjackso@umich.edu.

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