bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Daniel Murphy has the nerve to use his paternity leave

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Being a parent is one of the central roles in most peoples lives. Whether you are a professional athlete, an accountant, or a cashier, there is a better than fair chance that you will become a parent at some point. For regular people, it is a natural thing to take a few days off when a child is born. For people who get paid large sums of money to play games, though, the same act often leads to a great deal of consternation among fans and the media. This week, Daniel Murphy, the second baseman for the New York Mets, left the team for a couple of days to be with his wife as she gave birth to their baby. Some people were not pleased.

The league and the MLBPA agreed to a rule in the last contract that allowed for a 1-3 day leave for any player who was becoming a parent or was adding to his family. Murphy is far from the first guy to take advantage of this rule, but you would think that his absence was in some way unprecedented. I guess maybe it was that he used all three days that set people like sports-talk show host Mike Francesa off. He ridiculed the idea that a guy would need to be with his wife and new baby for more than a few hours, and mocked the fact that his own employer offers a leave of up to 10 days for new fathers. The fact that he openly expressed a total lack of interest in being with his wife at the hospital beyond the actual moments of birth says a lot more about Francesa than it does about any man that he was criticizing.

Boomer Esiason, the former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback who is now a radio host and football commentator, took it a step farther, saying that Murphy should have insisted that his wife schedule a C-section for the previous week, before the season started. He clearly got some heat for his ignorant and insensitive comments, and he then nearly tripped over himself trying to apologize for it. I know this sort of thinking used to be quite common in sports and may still be, as I have heard stuff like this before, but come on now. So the woman should have undergone major surgery (have you ever watched a C-section? I have…it’s a big deal) in order to avoid missing a couple of baseball games in April. I know that there is a whole lot of machismo flying about in the world of sports, but this is silly.

The fact that this was baseball made the discussion even sillier. As my wife pointed out, there are 162 games in a baseball season. If this were football, and the player were going to miss one game out of only 16, there might at least be some merit to the conversation (the one about the paternity leave, not the one about the C-section), but in Major League Baseball, it really is just a ridiculous argument. Guys like Francesa and Esiason just talk to hear themselves talk. The fact that this was in New York certainly magnified it, as Jimmy Rollins, the shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies, went through the same thing last week, missing two games just as Murphy did, and it barely made a wave.

Bad sports, continued:

2) In what has to be one of the first-ever ceremonial first pitch injuries, former major leaguer and current Los Angeles Angels coach Don Baylor was hurt when he attempted to catch the pitch thrown by former Angel Vladimir Guerrero. The pitch was not a good one, and Baylor broke his leg while trying to snare it.

3) Los Angeles Dodgers phenom and resident wild card Yasiel Puig was removed from the starting lineup before the game on Friday when he arrived late for batting practice.

4) The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners were supposed to play a game in Oakland on Friday. The game ended up being postponed due to weather even though it wasn’t raining at game time. The grounds crew somehow forgot to put the tarp on the field after the previous night’s game, even though rain was fully expected overnight and the next morning. The rain came and the bad drainage system couldn’t keep up. Oops.

5) Major League Baseball made some rule changes this year in an attempt to try to avoid collisions at the plate. At the same time, it expanded the use of instant replay to try to get a higher percentage of calls correct. This is clearly still a work in process, as evidenced by a play on Saturday during a game between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. The play at the plate was awkward, as a bunch of them have been so far this season, as runners seem to be confused as to what they should do. The catcher can’t block the plate if he doesn’t have the ball unless there is no way to catch the ball without blocking the plate. Francisco Cervelli slid rather abruptly, as Josh Thole was clearly blocking the plate. Yankees manager Joe Girardi challenged the call when Cervelli was called out, but the umpires upheld the call, saying that Thole had no choice but to block the plate. The thing is that Cervelli was actually safe, regardless of the blocked plate, but that is not what was being reviewed, so it couldn’t be changed. Stupid.

6) Tiger Woods has been dealing with back problems all year, and on Tuesday he announced that he will miss the upcoming Masters due to recent surgery.

7) A couple of weeks ago, the St. Louis Rams signed defensive back Greg Reid, who sat out last season due to a torn ACL. On Saturday, Reid was arrested for violating his probation. I am guessing the Rams don’t keep him around for very long.

8) In case there is any chance that you think the NCAA is anything other than a total joke, check out this story about the confiscation of a mug with cat pictures on it from a newspaper reporter at last week’s UConn/Michigan State basketball game.

Good sports:

1) A high school pitcher in New York not only pitched a perfect game on Tuesday in his first-ever start, he struck out all 21 batters that came to the plate.

2) You would think that an intentional walk would be a pretty hard thing to mess up for a pitcher. I have seen a wild pitch on one of these tosses, but I have never seen what happened during the game between Auburn and Ole Miss on Friday. Auburn pitcher Jay Wade’s pitch was too close to the plate, and Ole Miss slugger Austin Anderson pounded it over the wall in right field for a game-winning homerun in the 13th inning.

3) Texas Rangers star pitcher Yu Darvish reached 500 strikeouts in his career on Sunday. He did this in only 401 2/3 innings pitched, which is the fastest it has ever been done.

4) Matt Jones, who had never before won a tournament on the PGA Tour, came up huge in the final two holes he played on Sunday at the Houston Open. He sank a 46-foot putt on the 18th hole to move into a tie with leader Matt Kuchar. Then, on the first playoff hole, he holed out on a chip shot from 42 yards away to win it.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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