Search This Blog

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mets' Murphy Puts Family First and Gets Blasted...

Daniel Murphy...
It's not uncommon for sports and family life to be at opposite ends of the spectrum.  In fact, it's a dichotomy I often struggle with since on many a night at our house, you may find me watching the Heat or the Mets at one end and my wife and kids watching Animal Planet's River Monsters at another.  (Not that I'm advocating this as a good thing!)

But, it must get really hairy for professional athletes, who have to balance their livelihoods in sports with fulfilling their domestic responsibilities at home.

That is the case of New York Mets' starting second baseman Daniel Murphy.

Early last week, a big brouhaha sparked on sports-talk radio when the player chose fatherhood over baseball, by opting to take a paternity leave and miss the teams first two games of the grueling 162-game season to be with his wife after the birth of the couple's first child.  (I can almost hear the little boy in the Shoeless Joe Jackson legend exclaim, "Say it isn't so, Joe!")

Could you believe the gall of that guy?

Well, the commentators on WFAN radio, including former NFL quarterback, Boomer Esiason, couldn't.  They were beside themselves by the sensitive demonstration of fatherly love; wanting to be with his wife and newborn son, at that monumental moment in their life.

Esiason blasted the infielder for, among other things, not being a "real man" and suggested the couple should have planned ahead and had their doctor perform a C-section, so as to not interfere with Murphy's work. 

Boomer Esiason...
“Quite frankly, I would have said C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry. This is what makes our money. This is how we’re going to live our life. This is going to give my 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.”

Mike Francesa, Esiason's cohort on the 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 Major League Baseball player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help.”

Really?  What a sad commentary from the mouths of grown men. 

Granted, being a baseball player is what pays the rent and gives his family an opportunity for success.  But, as a good friend of mine once told me, when I was going through a trying time at work, a man is not defined by what he does but by who he is.

In a nation that is suffering from an identity crisis because of the missing father figure in many American families, where children are growing up in single-family homes without a male role model to show kids the discipline, responsibility and commitment they need, and where masculinity has been reduced in the media to nothing more than The Hangover-like characters of grown-up adolescents or uninvolved buffoons, getting knocks from women for our failures is one thing.  But, getting knocks from other men for being responsible? 

To me, that's an insult.  Not that I can't be that uninvolved buffoon, at times (And, my wife can tell you stories), but I'd like to think that it's not the kind of man I am most of the time and, as importantly, it's not the kind of man I aim to be.  So, when I hear another man being belittled and marginalized for living up to the standards I aspire to; leadership of his household, provider, protector, comforter and spiritual head, I take offense.

I remember when our first daughter was born, I took almost two weeks off from work to be with my wife at the hospital, through the delivery, her recovery and our adjustment to having a baby at home.  It was a powerfully binding experience for us as a brand new family and one that I'll never forget (And, it's not because of the many sleepless nights or dirty diapers!)

Former U.S. Secretary of Education, William Bennett, said it well, "Real fatherhood means love and commitment and sacrifice and a willingness to share in responsibility and not walking away from one's children."

For his part, Murphy took the high road when told of the criticism.  He said, "My wife and I discussed it, and we felt the best thing for our family was for me to try to stay for an extra day due to the fact that she can’t travel for two weeks... 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.”   

The couple named their son Noah as in Noah's Ark in the Bible because, in the words of Murphy, "Peace and rest is what it means."

And peace and rest is what Esiason was forced to make.  After an apparent backlash, he came back the next day and apologized.

What do you think?...

No comments: