Paternity Leave for Professional Athletes or Why Boomer Esiason Can Suck It

I cannot think of many reasons to listen to Boomer Esiason. He is your classic ex-football player turned sports announcer that has nothing new to say about anything. He is a stereotype, and a poor man’s Phil Simms.

Today he was on the radio sharing old thoughts about old topics, and he joined a New York host that isn’t named Howard Stern in bashing Daniel Murphy, a second baseman for the New York Mets, that used his right to take paternity leave after the birth of his son.

Esiason suggested that the couple should have scheduled a Caesarian-section so as not to miss the first few games of the season, and also because Esiason is a total idiot.

I was going to write a whole post about it, but it turns out I don’t have to. I have written it before, when another guy that gets paid to talk about games openly criticized a player for making a similar choice, that of family over baseball, which doesn’t seem like it should be a choice at all.

In the spirit of sports pundits having nothing new to talk about I have shared my original post (DadCentric, 2011) below. Enjoy my anger.


Telling the Men From the Boys of Summer

“In Game 2, Colby Lewis is scheduled to start after missing his last regular turn in the rotation because—I’m not making this up—his wife, Jenny, was giving birth in California. To the couple’s second child … If it was a first child, maybe. But a second child causing a player to miss a game? Ludicrous.” – Richie Whitt of the Dallas Observer

It is rare, to the point of utter amazement, in these volatile times to find someone that reaches a level of asshole capable of separating them so clearly from the pack. Richie Whitt is on top of his game.

Whitt is slamming the decision of Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis to utilize a new rule in MLB which allows players to take 24 to 72 hours of paternity leave, in order to be present during the birth of his daughter.

The birth of his daughter.

And to make sure that we understood exactly what Whitt meant when he chastised a man for choosing family OVER A GAME he followed his original quote with this gem:

“I don’t care if Lewis is a good dad. If I wanted to root for a team of great role models, I’d renew my season tickets to watch the deacons at my Sunday church. I want—always have, always will—the Rangers to win.

“If the Rangers lose the AL West by one game—and if it can be reasonably concluded that Lewis missing that start contributed to them missing the playoffs—I’ll be pissed.”

All of which makes me think that Richie Whitt must be a very special kind of fucking idiot.

We all say stupid things. Hell, some of us make a living out of it. However, it’s only a matter of time before one is held accountable for said stupidity, and Whitt may want to start painting pictures with the humble brush while he is still on this side of a paycheck.

Granted, I’m not one to suggest a person should be punished for speaking their mind (or what passes for it), but to put the weight of a franchise, of a city, on the shoulders of father and his baby girl? That’s so incredibly ignorant that it borders on awesome. No, I’m not calling for his job, or even a boycott of whatever dribble it is that he gets paid to publish, but I would like everyone to point at him and laugh. Loudly.

Kids, don’t feed the buffoon.

We live at a crossroads in America, where stereotypes, gender roles, and all kinds of thought fueled with hate are being shattered and remolded for the better. Colby Lewis did what any decent man should do, make every possible attempt to be present for his family when they need him. It’s a no-brainer.

Therein lies the rub about crossroads, for every right decision or Ralph Macchio guitar solo, there is a devil or two hanging around waiting to knock you for it. It’s time to pay the devil his due.

I’m speaking metaphorically here.

Someday Colby Lewis is going to be an ex-baseball player, and he may regret certain errors or pitches, or be proud of this stat or that game. However, the best decision he will ever make in a Rangers uniform is already behind him. It won’t show up in the box score, and it won’t earn him any awards, but it is a far better mark of a man than any earned run average could ever hope to be.

Something tells me that Richie Whitt has no idea what I’m talking about.


UPDATED: Boomer Esiason issued a public apology to Murphy and his wife on the show this morning, and while it was the right thing to do I can’t help but wonder why he skirted the issue of men taking paternity leave. He acknowledged that he was wrong to bring the Murphy family into a public conversation, and that the March of Dimes had reiterated their mission statement about healthy pregnancies, but refrained from commenting on his stance. Still, it’s something like progress.

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