The baseball season of 2011 was the first year that MLB put into effect a new paternity rule. The rule was adapted to provide a guilt-free accommodation for the player and at the same time try to make life easier for the manager. The new rule allowed players to take up to three days off for the birth of a child without hurting the team, which can fill the roster with any other player from their 40 man roster.
The first four players in the 2011 season to take advantage of the paternity rule were Ian Desmond, Kurt Suzuki, Jason Bay, and Colby Lewis. Colby Lewis has the distinction of being the first player to be placed on paternity leave when he left the Texas Rangers to witness the birth of his daughter. Keep this fact in mind for a trivia quiz.
In 2001, Met manager Terry Collins said, “Twenty-five years ago nobody left. Nobody went to weddings. You played because the season was six months long any you stayed. But the rules changed and that’s part of the Basic Agreement now, but they got this rule which helps you so you don’t lose a player and you can keep your core roster. We adjust to it. I’m sure the wives are happier.”
Fast forward to the 2014 season. This leads us to the controversy when Daniel Murphy, the Mets starting second baseman and one of their best hitters, took advantage of the paternity rule this year. Daniel Murphy is proud he put fatherhood ahead of baseball, and New York Mets manager Terry Collins thinks the criticism his second baseman received for taking paternity leave is unfair. Murphy made his season debut three days after the birth of his son. He missed the first two games of the 2014 season.
Two of the leading radio personalities on WFAN Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiason both leveled their criticism of Murphy for taking the paternity leave.
Francesa on his radio show said, “One day I understand. And in the old days they didn’t do that. But one day, go see the baby be born and come back. You’re a MLB player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help.” Francesa went off on his own network when he found out that WFAN gives a 10-day paternity leave.
Esiason was even more critical when he said, “Murphy should have insisted his wife have a C-section before the season starts, he needs to be at Opening Day, I’m sorry.” His partner Craig Carton agreed and said, “Assuming the birth went well, the wife is fine, the baby is fine, 24 hours and then you get your ass back to your team.”
Mets GM Sandy Alderson came to the defense of Murphy by saying, “I’ve got no problem with Murph being away. I think the delivery was a little earlier than expected, but those things you don’t control. I am happy he was able to be with his wife and the fact that he only missed two games is positive for us.”
The next day Esiason gave a lengthy apology on his radio show. Referring to his comment about a C-section he said, “I was not telling women what to do with their bodies. I would never do that. That’s their decision. I should have never uttered the word C-section on this radio station.”
Daniel Murphy, speaking at the White House, at a forum on working fathers said, “When my son asks me one day, ‘What happened’? What was it like when I was born? I could have answered; I slammed a Strasburg breaking ball that day, son, into the right field corner.” But instead, he continued, he can tell his son, “I am the one who cut his umbilical cord.”
My take on this issue is both radio celebs were way out of line with their criticism. Daniel Murphy exercised his right under MLB rules to take the three-day paternity leave. As we celebrate another father’s day, I say kudos to Daniel Murphy for putting his priorities in the right order.
Happy Father’s Day!