We expect a lot out of our professional athletes. First they need to throw a small, hard object at 90 m.p.h. about 100 times. That’s not easy. But then a true fanatic will become distraught when his prized pitcher misses a start due to some minor ailment or, God forbid, a personal commitment.
This happened recently to Texas Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis, who took advantage of Major League Baseball’s new 72-hour paternity leave to attend the birth of his daughter. Imagine the nerve?
Luckily for Rangers fans, the Dallas Observer’s Richie Whitt was there to take this non-absentee father to task for his familial obligation:
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.
Ludicrous! Whitt goes on to explain how he raised a stepson. This somehow qualifies him to make judgments about the importance, or non-importance, of Lewis’ spending these personal and consequential moments with his wife and child in California instead of on the mound at Yankee Stadium, throwing baseballs in front of 45,000 strangers.
Lewis was the first player to take advantage of this new rule. So it is predictable that some loudmouth baseball purist would take umbrage in the apparent broadside against the sport’s tradition paternal apathy.
As a baseball fan and an actual father, I’d like to make to following observation: There are more important things in life than baseball. Yes, hard to believe.
There are many memorable experiences I’ve had with my daughter that I wouldn’t trade in any of them for seven innings against the Yankees. But the most important, and I say this often, was the day she was born. Being placed in my arms, a perfectly beautiful, healthy child, an unexpected wave of euphoria sets over you as you ponder the rest of my life with this newly created human being. As corny as it sounds, it’s the truth. That, Mr. Whitt, is something you don’t want to miss. And, if you’re indifferent to the experience, fine. But the least you could do is not take this away from someone else.
So congrats to Colby Lewis and his family. Good starting pitchers are special, but good fathers are even harder to come by.