By Jason Keidel
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It’s not good business to so robustly rebut the moneymakers of your own employer — particularly the patriarch of sports-talk radio – but the Daniel Murphy matter is really a nonstarter.
Murphy missed the first two Mets games — both losses with or without him — because he wanted to be with his wife during the birth of their boy. And it feels like far too many New Yorkers have a problem with it.
Boomer Esiason essentially said C-section or bust. Pop that thing out before the season, then live happily ever after.
No doubt Boomer knows endlessly more about football and fatherhood than I do, but I can also assert with equal enthusiasm that he’s never given birth. And to speak so casually about a C-section is, well, a little confusing.
And Boomer now realizes that, as evidenced by an explicit and extensive apology sent to the Murphy family on Friday. Unlike most people who speak out of turn, radio hosts can’t jam the reset button on live air. But all any of us can do after we goof is admit and apologize. It makes perfect sense that Esiason would be the first to man up, considering his own tender, family dynamic.
Then Mike Francesa joined in, saying you spend one day, hug your pup, then head north. Since Francesa, the baritone bard of New York sports for decades, often waxes romantically about his family, it was surprising to hear him trivialize another man’s experience with childbirth.
No matter our medium, whether our weapon is a pen or a mike, we are entertainers. And our charge is to be bold, to illicit ardent emotion from you, no matter the tone. Loving and loathing both pay the bills. But there is an omerta among men that we don’t question a man’s family.
No one is prouder than yours truly to be with WFAN/CBS, for infinite reasons, and chief among them is our almost universal adherence to decency, and the notion that we can kill the player on or off the field as long as the damage and carnage is justified and as far away from his family as possible.
Boomer, Carton, Mike, etc., know this coda better than anyone. And perhaps they just got caught up in the fertile incompetence of the Mets, and Murphy just happened to be the freshest topic. It’s impossible to think that they really frown upon a player wanting to be with his wife while she bears his child.
In case all hosts of all heft forget, this country allows for men to take months away from their employer to care for a newborn. Murphy took two days.
I don’t even have children and I was shocked to hear such a resounding chorus chiding the Mets’ infielder, inside and outside the glassy walls and halls of talk radio. What makes it exponentially more confounding is that each man who denounced Murphy is a fine family man himself.
Boomer is almost as famous for his charitable endeavors as his golden left arm. And as the proud papa of a young man with cystic fibrosis, he is more aware than most of how ephemeral love and life can be. Likewise, Francesa adores his brood, and surely Mr. Carton would leap from his seat in a second to care for his kids.
Esiason backed his take by declaring that, as players, they must play, and that the inflated income they receive for playing sports is what not only puts bread on the table, but also the butter, beer, and college tuition, and that the nomadic life of the pro athlete is something all concerned signed up for.
While that’s entirely true, it’s hard to fathom how his logic applies to two games out of 162, the interminable march of our pastime.
Did Murphy break the law? Did he even break the rules? Are any Mets really mad at Murphy? Most of us would think they smothered Murphy upon his return, gladly taking and toking on the cigars he likely dispensed to a forlorn franchise that just got stomped by the Washington Nationals.
The world can kill the Mets for myriad reasons. They are inept, a corporate and corporeal corruption. They are the baseball iteration of the weatherman, promising sunshine in a hurricane. It was altogether fitting and proper that they played their first game under apocalyptic climes, with sheets of snow draped all over Long Island on Opening Day.
But to shred the Mets or Murphy for leaving the snow-coated coasts of the Northeast to be with his wife for the birth of his son just seems and smells wrong. Lord knows, there is ample, sordid, source matter sans their second baseman.
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