New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy wasn't at opening day Monday, but he had an excuse — his wife Tori was in labor.
Murphy learned Sunday night that his wife's water broke around 11:30 p.m., so he boarded a plane, flew from New York to Florida and arrived in time for the birth of the couple's first child, a baby boy named Noah, ESPN reported.
But Murphy's decision to stay with his wife and new child, as she recovered from a C-section, has caused controversy amid sports fans. WFAN talk show host Mike Francesa openly expressed his opinion after learning that Murphy would also miss Wednesday's game to be with his family.
"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,” Francesa said on Wednesday.
"I have no problem with being there, I don't know why you need three days off. I'm going to be honest, I mean, you see the birth and you get back. I mean, what do you do in the first couple days? ... Your wife doesn't need your help the first couple of days, you know that. You're not doing much those first couple of days with the baby that was just born."
In a separate discussion on another WFAN show, host Boomer Esiason also discussed his opinion on paternity leave for professional athletes, stating that Murphy's wife simply should have had a "C-section before the season starts."
Since both talk show commentaries, many responded negatively to each of the statements. Terry Collins, Murphy's manager, responded to the criticism, the New York Daily News reported.
"He missed two games. It's not like he has missed 10," Collins said.
"First of all, if you're accusing Dan Murphy of not wanting to play — this guy played 161 games last year. Wore himself out. Played with all sorts of discomfort. The man had his first child. He is allowed to be there. The rules state that he can be there, so he went. There is nothing against it. There's nothing wrong with it."
Murphy returned to play on Thursday and spoke shortly about the situation, ESPN reported.
"It's going to be tough for her to get up to New York for a month. 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," Murphy said.
"But that's the awesome part about being blessed, about being a parent, is you get that choice. 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 — that being Wednesday — due to the fact that she can't travel for two weeks."
The Mets general manager Sandy Alderson explained that he agreed with Murphy's decision, the New York Daily News reported.
“The paternity-leave policy was introduced not just for the players’ benefit, but recognition by clubs in contemporary times that this is an appropriate time for parents to be together,” Alderson said. “So I’ve got absolutely no problem whatsoever with Murph being away."
Esiason has since issued an apology for the remarks that he made on his show regarding Murphy and his family.
"I just want to say again on this radio show that in no way, shape or form was I advocating anything for anybody to do. I was not telling women what to do with their bodies. I would never do that," he said on his show Friday.
"That's their decision, that's their life and they know their bodies better than I do. And the other thing, too, that I really felt bad about is that Daniel Murphy and Tori Murphy were dragged into a conversation, and their whole life was exposed. And it shouldn't have been."
As the story has spread this week, many expressed their own comments on Twitter, including Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Isreal.
Disagree with criticism for Daniel Murphy’s paternity leave. @mets fans miss seeing him on the field, but I’m happy he put family first.— Steve Israel (@RepSteveIsrael) April 3, 2014
So let me get this right: people are criticizing Daniel Murphy for missing 2 baseball games - 2! - to spend time with his wife and newborn?— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) April 3, 2014
I applaud Daniel Murphy for being at his wife side for the birth of their child!Some things are more precious then a ballgame! #justmesayin— Larry Walker (@Cdnmooselips33) April 4, 2014
Why does Daniel Murphy have to defend his paternity leave? The insinuation that you should be anything but a family man first is disgusting.— CJ Nitkowski (@CJNitkowski) April 3, 2014
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