Former all-star Morgan Ensberg stays connected to game with blog
In 2005, Morgan Ensberg hit 36 home runs and drove in 101 runs with Astros
Two years later, after 28 games with the Yankees, he was out of baseball
Now 35, Ensberg would like to land front-office job and runs insightful blog
Morgan Ensberg is tired.
Tired of day-to-day life.
Tired of a non-baseball existence.
Just plain ol' tired. Yawn.
Not all that long ago, Ensberg was on the fast track to a lofty spot among the sport's elite. In 2005, at the age of 29, he became an All-Star with the Houston Astros, hitting 36 home runs and driving in 101 runs. He was a cornerstone of a young, up-and-coming ball club, the third baseman of the present and future.
Then the bottom fell out. Ensberg batted .235 the following season, with just 23 home runs and 58 RBIs. In 2007, he split time with the Astros and Padres, hitting .230 with 12 homers (not so hot for a man making $4.3 million). He lasted 28 games with the Yankees in 2008 and, well, that was that. His final major league game was May 25, 2008 -- Ensberg served as a ninth-inning defensive replacement, walked off the field and vanished into the vast ocean of washed-up major leaguers who we sorta kinda might remember in five years. Where have you gone, Tommy Herr? How's life, Steve Bedrosian? Where you at, Mike Pagliarulo?
"It wasn't a lack of skill that ended it for me," says Ensberg, 35, who profusely swears his demise had nothing to do with performance-enhancing drugs. "It was more that I lost sight of what I needed to do to succeed. I was more concerned about not getting booed than I was with playing well. I'm not usually all that sensitive, but I felt that people truly hated me for what I did on the field. And for some reason I couldn't get past that."
Ensberg bounced around, signing with Cleveland and Tampa Bay but failing to make a big league roster. For much of the past two years, he has sought out a front-office job -- any front-office job. "I sent e-mails to every team, explaining how I want to get back in the game," Ensberg says. "But nobody bit. I started thinking about it. Yes, I played the game, but so did hundreds of other guys. What exactly made me stand out as a potential employee?"
The answer, Ensberg decided, was this: Nothing.
Which is why, approximately three months ago, Ensberg followed the path of every basement fantasy geek and wannabe movie reviewer and insane asylum parolee by, ahem, starting a blog.
But not just any blog. Though it is, in physical appearance, as flashy and eye-catching as a Terry Whitfield rookie card, Morgan Ensberg's Baseball IQ is, in a word, fantastic. In the same blunt, straight-ahead fashion that made him a go-to interview in the Houston clubhouse, Ensberg has devoted his blog to exploring the intricacies of major league life. Earlier this month, for example, when two Mets anonymously ripped teammate Oliver Perez for refusing a minor league assignment, Ensberg called the players cowards. "If you are going to make a comment to the press about one of your teammates," he wrote, "you have the obligation to be held accountable for your comments. Players can say anything they like as long as they put their name on the statement. Anything other than that is spineless."
Ensberg proceeded to rip Mike Puma, the New York Post writer who quoted the players, noting that, "The irony of this article is that you just did the same thing the players did because you don't have the guts to write their names. The only difference is that we know that you are someone who gossips."
Though he only adds new entries once or twice per week, the biggest benefit of Morgan Ensberg's Baseball IQ is the interaction. Ensberg has committed himself to responding to every e-mail, meaning anyone out there can ask a former all-star a question and expect a prompt response. "I love the idea of helping people understand what it is to play baseball," says Ensberg, who says the site receives more than 1,000 hits per day. "It means something to me."
Ensberg resides in San Diego with his wife, Christy, and their three young children. He readily admits that the transition from ballplayer to blogger has been rough and occasionally nightmarish. Like most professional athletes, Ensberg came to depend on the routine that is big league existence. The airplane leaves at this time. Dinner will be here. Extra BP starts in 45 minutes. These are your teammates. This is your manager. See ball, hit ball. Now, Ensberg says, "I'm bored as all get-out. I feel unproductive. People ask how golf is going. It was great for about two weeks, but enough was enough. I need to contribute to something."
Hence, the blog. Will it last? Ensberg is not sure. If a gig with the Padres or A's or Yankees or anyone else comes along, he'd likely step off the Web as quietly as he stepped out of the majors. The goal, after all, is to return to the sport he loves.
And if that doesn't work?
"I'll find my way," he says, "and be grateful for the experiences."
Jeff Pearlman can be reached at email@example.com.
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