Striking Out on One Pitch

This shouldn't be viewed as extraordinary behavior for a dad. It should be ordinary. Hopefully he'll open up the doors for other professional athletes to follow his lead.
04/05/2014 02:38 pm ET Updated Jun 05, 2014

Daniel Murphy is a dad. A first-time dad. Let's just start there.

I know how I felt as a first-time dad. I laughed, I cried, I was on a high that simply could not be duplicated. More importantly, I wanted to be around the tiny human I helped to create more than anything. I wanted to hold her, kiss her, feed her bottles, take her on walks around the neighborhood and bond with her. That's what any dad should do, right?

Mr. Murphy agrees with me, but here's where we differ: he's the starting second baseman for the NY Mets and I'm not. He plays ball in a city that is notoriously tough on its athletes for not performing on the field and unfortunately this young man is experiencing some backlash from some members of the media. So what did he do? Did he pull a "Bill Buckner" circa 1986? Is he in a batting slump? Is he doping his body with Human Growth Hormone? Nope, none of those things. The dude just wants to take three games off to bond with his baby and be present for his wife.

Doesn't sound all that horrible to me.

Here are some enlightened and progressive thoughts offered by a few of nameless members of the NY media (you all know who they are):

"I don't know why you need three days off, I'm going to be honest. You see the birth and you get back. What do you do in the first couple days? Maybe you take care of the other kids. Well, you gotta have someone to do that if you're a Major League Baseball player. I'm sorry, but you do ... Your wife doesn't need your help the first couple days, you know that."

"You get your ass back to your team and you play baseball ... there's nothing you can do, you're not breastfeeding the kid."

"Quite frankly I would've 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 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.'"

These men aren't just your garden variety meatheads (well, maybe they are), but they're also dads.

Yes, I have thoughts about all of this and I'll share them with you now.

1) - Get a grip. It's three damn games: Most people know this, but the Major League Baseball season is long. Really long. It starts when it's cold outside and the World Series champion is crowned when it's cold outside. It's 162 games long (not including the postseason) and MLB allows dads three games off to bond with their babies (I could write a book about maternity/paternity leave and how the great US of A is behind every industrialized nation in that regard, but I'll spare you). Does any reasonable person think that Mr. Murphy's absence for those three games would ruin the season for the Mets? Isn't that a complete slap in the face to his teammates to say that they can't possibly win without him? Calm down, people.

2) - I'll tell you what a good dad does for the first couple of days when his first child is born: He changes diapers, he calms his baby's meltdowns while said baby adjusts to life in this strange world, he supports his spouse in any and all ways she needs (that can range from preparing family meals to just holding her hand) and spends quality time with the baby he helped to create.

He holds his baby, stares at his baby, makes funny faces at his baby, takes naps with his baby, wakes up in the middle of the night to care for his baby and ensures his voice is the primary male voice that his baby hears. Nothing in the "good dad" job description requires turning double-play balls or hitting home runs.

3) - A wife doesn't need help the first couple of days?: Really? So "Sports Talk Guy," what would happen if you were responsible for caring for your newborn baby without your wife's help for the first few days? You'd grunt yourself into unconsciousness before 9:00 AM, and you know it. You're right, though. Women don't need your help. They step their games up. They have no choice when having the misfortune of being partnered with Neanderthals like you.

What if she had a C-section? Do you think she's Wolverine or something? The lady can't just get up and act like nothing happened. She needs time to heal. Yes, these athletes have money to hire nurses, but what if these know, want to support the women they love who happened to successfully deliver their first child into the world? Would that be so out of the ordinary?

You know what else good dads do? They understand that parenting is a 50/50 endeavor with their spouses and refuse to leave them on an island to fend for themselves.

4) - Major surgery is not a joke: I love how the one dude acted like scheduling a C-section was like scheduling a hair appointment. So let me get this straight: Mr. Murphy should demand that his wife have this surgery -- an unnecessary procedure so delicate in nature that the mother or baby could experience serious complications or die from it -- just so he could play second base on Opening Day? I know, I many people die from C-sections in this day and age, right? More than the amount of people who died from disappointment when Mr. Murphy wasn't playing middle infield when the season started, that's for damn sure.

I think if that guy had access to a time machine he'd take that comment back. At least I hope he would -- but if he's dumb enough to say something like this, I probably should lower my expectations a bit.

5) - Being a dad has nothing to do with your job or your bank account: The guys on the radio think because these athletes bring in millions of dollars of income to their families that it absolves them from their parenting duties. Check that -- they believe bringing in the money is their parenting duty. We all know these dads. They are the ones who spend countless hours away from home doing "real work" while their wives are left at home to handle the "simple duties of raising kids between watching crappy daytime television." They brag about how cool they are for going back to work the day their kid was born as if it is a badge of honor or something. They don't change diapers, give baths, play dress up with their daughters or help their sons with homework. That's beneath them. And why should they? If it wasn't for their bankroll, his wife and kids would be living on the street. Sadly, there are many dads who subscribe to this line of thinking -- and to call them dads is a stretch when in reality they're nothing more than walking, talking ATM machines.

Let's keep it real for a minute. It doesn't matter if you're working in the mailroom, boardroom or ballpark. If you're an employee who doesn't perform well, employers will simply find someone who will perform well. These Sports Talk guys think they're hot now, but as soon as their ratings go in the toilet and sponsors leave them, will their stations unconditionally love them? Will these stations give these men a pass for all of their years of dedication and loyalty? Hell no. They'll be replaced by the next shiny star before they knew what hit them. Then what? Will they go crawling back to the wives who silently resent them and the children they have no relationships with?

Family > Career.


6) - Moms are obviously angry, but so are dads: Good dads hear this Captain Caveman foolishness from these radio personalities and they become enraged. They may not make millions of dollars playing a child's game, but they work their asses off at their jobs. Most importantly, when they get home from a long day at the office, they're jumping right into Daddy Mode without hesitation or complaint. They don't expect their wives to do everything with the kids and quite frankly -- they don't want their wives to do everything with the kids.

A job is what they do, but being a dad is what they are. If it's financially feasible for them to do so, they will be at home for as long as possible when their babies are born, and it angers them to hear others trying to put them down for taking their roles as fathers seriously.

7) - Mad props should be given to Daniel Murphy, even though he probably doesn't want them: A lot of people are going to put Mr. Murphy on a pedestal for being a real man. He will be called a great husband. He'll be lauded as a hero. He'll be hailed as a pioneer. He'll be renowned as the man who stood up to the bullies in the NY media. Of course I don't know the young man personally, but the early returns suggest he's going to crush this daddy gig as well. When he's alone with his thoughts, I bet he's scratching his head wondering why people are losing their minds over this. The man just wants to bond with his expanding family. He's not saving children from burning buildings. He's not fighting in our military. He's doing what thousands of dads are doing.

In other words, this shouldn't be viewed as extraordinary behavior for a dad. It should be ordinary. Hopefully he'll open up the doors for other professional athletes to follow his lead.

Final memo to the radio hosts: You're in entertainment and your job is to create stories and buzz. Congrats, because you hit a home run in that regard. Unfortunately, when you create buzz by showing your ass to the world, you'll get blown up and exposed for what you are. Whether you wanted it or not, your quotes illustrated that you believe parenting is not a man's job. Your quotes showed how little you respect or understand women. And lastly, your quotes show that you value money/career over your family. If all of things are true, I truly feel sorry for your spouses and children.

I've been wrong before, and dammit -- I hope I'm wrong when it comes to you guys, but I don't think I am. I know men like you. They think they're tough, cool and fresh -- but in reality, they're just weak-minded and scared. They're scared to be sensitive with their kids, so they hide behind their careers. They can't think on their own so they follow the antiquated fraternity boy/locker room mindset in order to fit in with the other mouth-breathers vibrating at a lower frequency. They're simply lost little boys with loud, insecure voices.

If asked, I bet their spouses and children would trade in their husbands'/daddies' hefty radio salaries for more love, presence and support at home. Sadly, those women and children won't be so lucky. Mr. Murphy's family doesn't need to worry about that. My family doesn't have to worry about that. If you're a man crushing it everyday for your spouse and kids, your family won't have to worry about it either.

So what happens next, fellas? The entire planet knows what you're about now, your listeners are embarrassed for you, and your sponsors are reevaluating their decisions to support you. You're messing with something much bigger than sports, your silly radio shows or even you. It's about family -- the people we are supposed to unconditionally love with everything we have. Why can't you figure it out?