Daniel Murphy's critics clueless
Certainly missing two games of April baseball is reason to rip Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for exercising his rights under his union's collective bargaining agreement with Major League Baseball, and for being a decent human being.
At least New York radio hosts Boomer Esiason, Craig Carton and Mike Francesa thought so, igniting something of a talk show frenzy sure to continue as more baseball players procreate.
I'm not one of those "dopey organized groups," as Carton lumped everyone into, or, as he also put it, one of the "knuckleheads" who dares to disagree with him.
Well, I might be a knucklehead (I had surgery last week to repair a severed nerve in my hand after a bad attempt to pit an avocado, so ... ), but I'm not organized, and I'm not a group.
What I am, however, is a working mother who would have thought very seriously about my choice of husband if he had suggested -- as Esiason did -- an unnecessary C-section (that would be a surgical procedure with all the inherent risks it suggests) to avoid his having to take a day off from work.
Esiason and Carton's main point seems to be that Murphy has a great, high-paying job with four months vacation (Note to professional athletes: Please direct all hate mail to them), so he and his wife should schedule all of life's biggest moments during those four months.
Perhaps there should be a directive issued to all sperm to get in line and cooperate.
And um, if the baby is not full-term? Apparently we should yank it out, regardless. "Sorry, honey, pitchers and catchers report tomorrow and the incubator isn't so bad."
Murphy's wife, Tori, ended up giving birth via C-section, and he later explained: "It's going to be tough for her to get up to New York for a month. I can only speak from my experience -- a father seeing his wife -- she was completely finished. I mean, she was done. She had surgery, and she was wiped. Having me there helped a lot, and vice versa, to take some of the load off. ... It felt, for us, like the right decision to make."
For many of the goofs who hold that against him, I'm guessing that using the term "paternity leave" probably did Murphy no favors. And the criticism feels like the equivalent of pushing him into the lockers for playing with the girls at recess.
Thankfully, Mets manager Terry Collins has been supportive. On the same subject, Lou Piniella, then-manager of the Cubs and certainly an old-school tough guy, once told me, "When I played, the first two kids I had, I was out there playing. The last one, I was able to go to the hospital and missed that day, but that was it. It has changed. But what's more important than your family? There is nothing more important. ...
"This is a very tough sport to play; it's every day, and when you have family issues, take care of those first and primary and you come out here to the ballpark and you're more relaxed, your mind is more at ease and you can perform better."
When he was manager of the White Sox, Ozzie Guillen allowed his players' kids in the clubhouse and was exceptionally lenient about players leaving for births and family illnesses.
"You can ask any of my players who ever played for me and it's kids first, then the rest," he said.
In 2009, Guillen himself left his White Sox team to travel home to Venezuela to be with his terminally ill father-in-law, who subsequently passed away. As a Sox player, he also traveled home in April 1995 to be with the family of his close friend, former major leaguer Gus Polidor, who was killed in a robbery attempt.
But kids have always come first with Guillen.
"The only thing in life you have is your kids," Guillen said. "As soon as you leave this game, [baseball will] remember you when you die and if you ever go to the Hall of Fame. When you talk about your kids, that's the only thing is really yours. If one of my kids gets sick, [screw] baseball, I'll go be with my kids."
Carton said that, assuming mother and child are healthy, "You get your ass back to your team and you play baseball. That's my take on it. There's nothing you can do, anyway. You're not breastfeeding the kid. What are you doing? I've got four of these little rug rats. There's nothing to do."
Aside from resisting the urge to call Mrs. Carton and offer my sympathies, as well as perhaps a large box of wine, there's really nothing to say to that.
Nothing at all.