When Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy discovered his wife was in labor with their first child on Monday, he did what lots of new fathers do – he took advantage of his employer’s paternity leave to be by her side.
His decision meant the Major League Baseball player missed opening day on Monday and the second game of the regular season on Wednesday, but apparently that was too much for a handful of sports talk show hosts who slammed Murphy on-air for choosing family over work.
“Quite frankly, I would’ve said, ‘C-section before the season starts,’ ” former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason said Tuesday on his daily morning radio show, Boomer and Carton, according to Today.com. “[I’d say] ‘I need to be at opening day. This is what makes our money, this is how we’re going to live our life, this is going to give our child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.’ ”
Murphy, 29, opted to use MLB’s three-day paternity leave policy, which was enacted in 2011 as part of a collective bargaining agreement. He plans to return to the Mets lineup Thursday, which wasn’t soon enough for New York radio host Mike Francesa.
“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 Major League Baseball player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help,” Francesa said Wednesday on his WFAN afternoon sports show, according to New York’s Daily News.
“What are you going to do? I mean you are going to sit there and look at your wife in a hospital bed for two days?” Francesa added, and didn’t back down when callers phoned in to defend Murphy. “Your wife doesn t need your help the first couple of days; you know that you’re not doing much the first couple days with the baby that was just born.”
Despite the talk show criticism, Murphy – whose wife, Victoria, ended up needing a C-section to deliver their son, Noah, who was breech – does have support where it counts: Both the Mets and Major League Baseball publicly supported his decision to be with his wife and newborn.
“MLB and the Players Association began the paternity list in 2011 so that players could be with their families for an extraordinary time in their lives,” MLB said in a statement following the controversy.
Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson added: “The paternity-leave policy was introduced not just for the players’ benefit, but recognition by clubs in contemporary times that this is an appropriate time for parents to be together. So I’ve got absolutely no problem whatsoever with Murphy being away … I m happy he was able to be with his wife and the fact that he ll be back [Thursday] and only really missed two games is a positive for us.”
Indeed, Murphy returned to the lineup on Thursday, and announcers praised him for using his paternity leave and harshly criticized the hosts who slammed his decision to be with his wife.