Tom Burns thinks that Major League Baseball’s decision to support New York Mets’ Daniel Murphy’s right to paternity leave speaks volumes and deserves more attention than it’s getting
You know someone’s done something really, really stupid when a nameless, faceless corporation is displaying more common sense, empathy, and humanity than they are.
But that’s exactly what happened this week, when a trio of sports radio pundits—which, let’s be frank, is clearly the lowest, most inbred phylum in all of punditry—made disparaging comments about New York Mets’ Daniel Murphy’s decision to take 72 hours of paternity leave to witness the birth of his first child.
This trinity of morons—otherwise known as Mike Francesa, Boomer Esiason, and Craig Carton—honestly suggested that Murphy’s decision to miss the first game of the season, literally the least pivotal game of the year (this side of the All-Star Game), to be with his wife during the birth of their child was a bad decision on his part. A decision that was somehow anti-baseball, a decision that disrespected his employer, his fans, and the sport as a whole. A decision, they argued, that could’ve been avoided if Murphy had scheduled an unnecessary c-section for his wife before the season began. (That last argument will definitely make the 2014 Douchebaggery Hall of Fame.)
And yet, while these terrestrial radio mouth-breathers pouted and whined about Daniel Murphy’s affront against baseball, the actual Major League Baseball organization supported Murphy’s decision. They were totally fine with his paternity leave. Granted, it’s a pretty anemic leave—72 hours—but they supported it nonetheless, even when so-called baseball “experts” called the paternity leave a “scam-and-a-half.”
Think about that. The shadowy stonecutters who actually run the billion-dollar baseball industry, the penny-pinching free-masons who charge exorbitant prices for everything from seats to hot dogs, the omnipresent illuminati figures who will bring down the thunder if you re-broadcast one of their games without their expressed written consent… they fully supported Daniel Murphy’s decision to take a short paternal leave to go be a good dad for a few days. Even though Murphy is a highly-paid sports personality. Even though winning is everything. Even though, thanks to all those Kevin Costner movies, baseball has achieved religious status in certain areas of the world. Even with all that, MLB still said, “Go be with your wife and kid.”
More than anything, it’s that detail that has jumped out at me about this Daniel Murphy story. Because, c’mon, it’s not a shocking development that some dudes on sports radio said something stupid. That’s practically a requirement for the job. But what I do find interesting is that Major League Baseball, a corporation, supports paternity leave.
Because corporations exist to make money. Sure, MLB might be able to cloak themselves in the technicolor dreamcoat of being the protectors of “America’s past-time,” but, don’t fool yourself. The MLB is interested in protecting the profitability of baseball first and the purity of baseball second. And I get that. It makes sense. They have to keep the lights on. But a lot of the criticism surrounding Murphy’s decision to take paternity leave has centered around the idea of money. The criticism has focused on things like “How DARE this RICH, privileged celebrity miss two games when he can use his MONEY to buy nurses, ponies, or whatever that kid needs.” And pundits like Mike Francesa, Boomer Esiason, and Craig Carton deliberately called out paternity leave as a “scam” and suggested that Murphy’s decision to take the leave disrespected his employer.
Murphy’s CRITICS are playing the money card. According to them, not only was the leave a bad decision for his team, but they also tried to use money to suggest that paternity leave, as a whole, is somehow bad for employers. They didn’t just have a moral objection to Murphy missing two early season games. In their fool’s quest to be “right,” they argued that paternity leave was irresponsible, that it hurts MLB’s profitability.
Here’s the thing—It doesn’t.
The MLB is a corporation. Corporations exist to make money. The MLB, a corporation that charges so much for seats at Yankee Stadium that I have no idea how any New Yorker is ever able to afford to go see a game with their family, supports paternity leave.
Therefore, by the transitive laws of global accounting, paternity leave cannot be bad for business.
That may be reductive, but the MLB is clearly not a charity. Granted, they might overpay for a contract from time to time, but, if paternity leave was a true threat or a scam, they would NEVER support it in a million years.
On one hand, sure, there might be a moral reason why MLB supports paternity leave. Last year, Major League Baseball did a fantastic promotion with Dove Men+Care called Big League Dads where they held events and produced videos with baseball players talking frankly about how important it is to be an engaged father. (Full disclosure—I took my young daughter to one of the #BigLeagueDad events in Detroit last year and we got to play catch on the outfield of Comerica Park. It was sublime.) And, in those videos, the players are very earnest and emotional about being fathers and really embraced their position as role models. Even if it was just a PR campaign, it was a campaign with a truly poignant message.
On the other hand, you know that MLB has some accounting guy (that probably looks exactly like Jonah Hill) who has run the numbers backwards and forwards and has proven to them, empirically, that paternity leave is worth supporting. For reasons relating to both humanism and capitalism, paternity leave makes sense.
I hope that, in the near future, Mike Francesa, Boomer Esiason, and Craig Carton have a chance to sit quietly and reflect on that idea. The idea that a corporation, a profit-hungry machine that is only human in the eyes of the U.S. court system, had the ability to show more reason and empathy when dealing with a working father than they—actual humans—did. And I hope that chilling, soul-wrenching epiphany hits them like a Justin Verlander fastball. So, good job, Major League Baseball. This week, you were truly on the side of the angels. (Not the Los Angeles Angels… you know what I mean…)