Neither Boomer Esiason or Mike Francesca are doctors, nor are they Major League baseball union representatives. That did not stop either of them from voicing an opinion on the birth of a baseball player’s child. Esiason, on his radio show Boomer and Carton, stated that New York Mets’ player Daniel Murphy should have demanded his wife have a c-section before the season so as to not cost him any playing time. Francesca, also over the radio, told his listeners that the Murphy’s wife did not need him at home and that he should skip out on paternity leave, rather than miss any games.
Both Esiason and his partner, Craig Carton, implied that it was Murphy’s duty to return to the team as soon as possible. Murphy, who has only missed two games and is back in the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Washington Nationals, is allowed between one and three days off for paternity leave as part of the collectively bargained contract between the player’s union and MLB. Federal law actually allows further (unpaid) time off.
The radio hosts had a strange take on the birth of a man’s child, implying that his only duty is to provide for the family by returning to work immediately. No thought is given to the possibility that Murphy’s wife, Tori, might actually want her husband around in the hours after the birth of a child, nor is any hint thrown about that Murphy might actually like a moment to bond with his first son, Noah. Esiason, a former professional athlete himself, also made sure to one-up Murphy by saying he would have put his foot down and told his wife that since he makes the money and supports the family, she would have had to deal with the newborn on her own, and the birth would have to occur on his schedule. His suggestion that Murphy should have demanded his wife have a c-section before the season started was the strangest part of a lengthy discussion.
Francesca’s discussion of the situation began when a listener called in to voice his complaints about a baseball player getting days off for something as apparently inane as the birth of a child. Francesca took the chance to jump all over Murphy in a fashion much like Boomer did, saying that he was at work the next day following the birth of his children. He followed that up with a strange rant about “natural child birth” and things being better in the old days. The assorted ramblings continued on for more than 20 minutes. Later, he equated family and medical leave time off with a vacation, and extended his complaint beyond baseball players and into all other careers where paternity leave is granted.
The two radio shows demonstrated absolutely no understanding of modern family dynamics, and no compassion for the fact that a woman at home with her first child might need the help of her partner. All three seemed to be okay with the fact that Murphy might need one day off, but somehow drew the line right there and Murphy’s second day off was where the problems began. There was not any discussion about the fact that baseball players cannot simply come home right after work, and are away from home most of the season. None were able to think of a single reason for why a man needed to be at home with his child, leaving the impression that all three are stuck in the past with outdated opinions. To his credit, Murphy took advantage of his legal time off. He is batting second in the Mets’ lineup for the third game of the season.
Commentary by Brian Moore