Brock: Family comes first, even in Major League Baseball
Daniel Murphy is the starting second basemen for the New York Mets. Last year, he batted .286 and finished second in the National League with 188 hits.
Those were pretty impressive stats for a baseball player, but it isn’t the reason he has been all over the news this week. Daniel Murphy missed his team’s first and second games of the year to be with his wife, who was giving birth to their son, and even that was hardly newsworthy.
What got folks talking was when two radio sports talk show hosts blasted him for leaving the team to be with his wife.
Mike Francesa, WFAN afternoon host, said he understood one day, but in the old days they didn’t even do that. One day, maybe, go see the baby be born and come back. The argument was that Murphy was a Major League Baseball player. He could hire a nurse to take care of the baby if his wife needed help.
Boomer Esiason, on WFAN’s morning show, took it even a step further, saying Murphy should have insisted his wife have a C-section before the season started. He said Murphy needed to be at Opening Day and thought his wife should have had unnecessary surgery because “this is Major League Baseball” after all and he owed it to the fans and his teammates.
The non-sports morning talk shows came to Murphy’s defense, saying he was exactly where he should be: with his wife. After all, they said, it is only a game. They are only half correct. Baseball is a game, but Major League Baseball is a business.
Through collective bargaining, players are allowed three days of paternity to be with their wife during the birth of a child. There is also the Federal Family Medical Leave Act that allows employees to spend 12 weeks, unpaid, with family in need — including time out to be with your wife and newborn, if you choose.
Playing professional ball is the dream of many kids, and few are good and lucky enough to make it to the major leagues. Fewer still have a career that lasts longer than five years. I can’t imagine any event that would be more important than the birth of a child.
The New York Mets will play 162 regular season games this year. Few, if any, will remember the results of last week’s games. But I’m sure Daniel Murphy and his wife will remember last week long after countless opening days have come and gone.
Brock is the publisher of The Dickinson Press. Email him at email@example.com.