Former Houston Astro Morgan Ensberg recently took a position with the organization as their High-A team’s infield coach. For anyone that follows Ensberg on twitter (@MorganEnsberg), it should be no surprise that his wit is shining through in his new position. In Major League Spring Training, he and former teammate Adam Everett squared off as head coaches in the team’s intrasquad scrimmage. Ensberg named his team “Shark Lightning” and after their walk off win against Everett’s team, the players on his team blew up twitter with tweets of “Shark Lightning for life”. It was evident from that point that Ensberg would be the ultimate “Player’s Coach”. That hasn’t changed now that his minor league season with the Lancaster Jethawks has begun.
If you are following Morgan Ensberg on twitter, you have probably noticed the pictures that he posts of his Lancaster players holding a post game trophy (and if you’re not following him, you should be). The award is titled the “You’re a Really Good Player” Player of the Game. Without knowing exactly what this award entailed, I recently joked with Ensberg on twitter saying that Jose Altuve and Chris Carter would have had to share the “You’re a Really Good Player” award from Tuesday night’s offensive explosion. Ensberg responded back by saying “the ‘You’re a Really Good Player’ Player of the Game is a ‘Zero Sum Game'”, and that “We are teaching kids [that there are winners and losers].” For those of you wondering, a Zero-Sum game is defined by InvestoPedia.com as “a situation in which one participant’s gains result only from another participant’s equivalent losses…The wealth is shifted from one to another.” In other words, there is a limited amount of wealth and it comes at the expense of someone else. Morgan said he’s not with the “everybody gets a trophy”. He went on to say, “We have to prepare kids for the harsh reality of life.”
It was that profound statement that got me thinking. Sometimes I have to stop and remember that these professional baseball players are really impressionable, young men that are just entering adulthood. Many of the players on the Jethawks roster are between 21-24 years old. That is the age that most young men are learning life lessons in college or just getting started in the workforce. These guys are living “the dream” of playing baseball for a living, and it may be easy for some of them to become somewhat complacent. Ensberg made me realize that at the lower levels of the minors, the coaches are not only responsible for the development of the players’ baseball talents, but also somewhat responsible for how their players develop into men. Even though baseball is a team sport, in the minors everyday is a competition between the players on your own team to see who can be the best and eventually make it onto the Major League 25-man roster. After all, baseball is like most other careers in that there is very limited space at the top and only the most talented and motivated will achieve greatness. Like comedian George Carlin once said, “Life is a zero sum game.”
–So far the “You’re a Really Good Player” Player of the Game has been:
- Nolan Fontana (2-2 with HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 Runs on April 4th)
- Dave Rollins (4.0 innings pitched, 3 hits, 0 ER and the win on April 6th)
- Andrew Aplin (3-5 with a 2B and 2 RBI on April 7th)
- Zach Johnson (5-5 with 2B, 3B and 4 RBI on April 9th)
- Chris Devenski (5 innings pitched, 5 hits, 1 ER, 3 SO and the win on April 10th)
–I didn’t intend on writing a story about the “You’re a Really Good Player” award until I saw that Twitter legend Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) mentioned mine and Morgan’s conversation. If he thought it was somewhat interesting, I figured I should do something with it.