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Play ball!

fireflies_mainIt’s Opening Day next weekend for Major League Baseball, and after a sports offseason that saw the worst Super Bowl ending in NFL history and a whole bunch of busted brackets for the NCAA basketball tourney, it can’t come too soon.

The spring will be the first time since 1909 that the Chicago Cubs start a season as the Defending World Champs.

That bears repeating: DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPS. Yes, it had been a long time since the last pennant, fellow Cubs fans.

While skipper Joe Madden and the rest of the boys in blue seek a repeat (Let’s win two!), here’s a story from the minor leagues.

Tebow Time is coming to the Carolinas.

Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner and one-time NFL quarterback, will make his minor league debut next month as a member of the Columbia (S.C.) Fireflies.

The Fireflies are the Class A affiliate of the New York Mets, who signed Tebow to a contract last September.

Just take a look at the Fireflies’ website – the team already is splashing the arrival of “Tebow Time” in the Palmetto State’s capital city. The team opens the 2017 season on April 6.

Talk about a marketing coup. Baseball returned to Columbia just last year after a 12-year hiatus; the Savannah Sand Gnats relocated to Columbia and took the name Fireflies.

Call that a significant bug upgrade.

You might say Tebow in the minors is the biggest minor league publicity stunt since 1994, when basketball legend Michael Jordan played one season for the Class A Birmingham Barons.

You might be right.

But linger a minute on that team name: Birmingham Barons. Their arch-rivals in Alabama? The Montgomery Biscuits. Great minor league club names.

But they’ve got nothing name-wise on the South Atlantic League, which includes the Fireflies. Other teams in the SAL include the Asheville Tourists, the Charleston RiverDogs, the Kannapolis Intimidators, the Delmarva Shorebirds and the Greensboro Grasshoppers, to name a few.

Tebow has been working out with the big club during spring training at the Mets’ winter home in Port Saint Lucie, Florida.

As a Firefly, Tebow will wear the number 15, the same number he wore as a quarterback at the University of Florida and in the NFL.

The smart money says that with Tebow in the house, Fireflies gear will vault to the top of the list of best-selling minor league merchandise real quick and in a hurry. Buy now before it’s all sold out.