New York sports talk radio resumed regularly scheduled programming Thursday after second baseman Daniel Murphy returned to the New York Mets lineup.
Murphy’s wife went into labor on Sunday. Taking advantage of a rule placed as part of MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, Murphy took three days paternity leave for the birth of his child in Florida, missing the Mets first two games of the season.
His sabbatical provided material for New York’s airways. WFAN’s Mike Francesa ranted the following:
“What are you going to do? Sit there and look at your wife in a hospital bed for two days? I guarantee you are not sitting there holding your wife’s hand.”
Francesa then said he could understand Murphy missing one game and alluded to being a father of three himself. He subsequently shouted down a flood of callers who disagreed with him.
WFAN cohorts Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton were even worse. Esiason suggested Mrs. Murphy should have undergone a C-section before Opening Day while Carton said Murphy should “get his ass back to baseball.” Nice to see Esiason giving OB/GYN advice on-air, since I’m sure he’s an expert.
The Mets lost their first two games, to little fault of Murphy’s absence. Eric Young Jr. moved from center field to second base, with reserves Juan Lagares and Andrew Brown getting starts. Both Brown and Lagares homered on Opening Day.
In theory, Murphy could have returned after Tuesday’s off day. It was his call, but instead of being rested a day down the road, Murphy just sat the first two days of the season.
The issue of pro athletes taking time off for paternity and bereavement has evolved over time. Baseball, basketball and hockey players normally take a day or two off. Pro golfers have been known to withdraw from tournaments, even if in contention. It does seem like some in baseball get conveniently placed on the bereavement list between starting assignments or during minor injuries.
An NFL firestorm occurred in 1993 when Houston Oilers tackle David Williams missed a road game in New England to be at his wife’s side as she went into labor. One of the most highly paid players at his position at the time, Williams was fined and docked a game check. Owner Bud Adams chastised the player while Williams considered the loss of income “money well spent.” It proved to be a public relations disaster for the Oilers.
I can see the need for a player being on the job. Murphy has, at best, another 10 years as a Major League Baseball player, unlike some overpaid radio personalities who can hang around forever.
My larger issue, are New York personalities suddenly infiltrating national television.
There is an arms race on various outlets. CBS Sports Network carries the simulcast of “Boomer and Carton.” It’s promo features Esiason on a bullhorn urging someone to “retire his Giants jersey.” Not to be outdone, Francesa just debuted on Fox Sports 1, the promo features a sketch of Mariano Rivera who at last check is retired. Finally, MLB Network hired the annoying Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, Francesa’s former sidekick who moved on to Sirius/XM a few years back.
Then there are Mike Lupica and Keith Olbermann, whose agendas continue to rage around ESPN and other networks. Skip Bayless and Jason Whitlock remain controversial as well, but at least they are from the Midwest.
The question is why should anyone in a random location outside of New York care about Daniel Murphy’s leave? Judging by current attendance at Citi Field, I’m surprised anyone in New York even noticed. I would think whatever Mets fans are left would be infinitely more concerned about Jose Valverde trying to close games or the team’s current 0-3 start than Murphy’s absence.
At last check, more than 300 million people live in America. About 20 million of those represent the New York media market. The nonsense spewed from the WFAN airways Wednesday gave the rest of America a glimpse of what New Yorkers have to listen to every day.