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Column: Mets' Murphy has his priorities just right

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 4, 2014 at 5:01 pm •  Published: April 4, 2014

Looks like we need another primer on priorities.

A new father takes three days off from work to be with his wife during the birth of their first child — a right he's lucky enough to have under the labor agreement with his employer — and there's supposedly something wrong with that?

Give me a break!

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy did exactly the right thing when he skipped a couple of April baseball games to tend to his growing family, and anyone who says otherwise has lost all perspective on the difference between sports and the things that really matter.

"We felt the best thing for our family was for me to stay for an extra day," Murphy said. "Having me there helped a lot."

If anything, the debate over this issue completely missed the point.

Forget Mike Francesa and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, both ludicrously opining on New York sports talk station WFAN that Murphy should've rushed back to his teammates instead of spending as long as possible with his wife Victoria and son Noah.

The real issue is how fortunate Murphy and all major leaguers are to have the opportunity to take three days off when a child is born, fully paid and without any risk of losing their job. It's right there in the contract between players and owners, no matter what Francesa and Esiason might say. Over the past three seasons, 73 players have taken advantage of it.

Clearly, baseball and other big-league sports are leading the way on this one.

It's the rest of America that has lots of catching up to do.

Millions of Murphy's fellow citizens aren't allowed to take time off for that magical event. Or, if they can, they're docked the pay they would've earned by going to work — a difficult choice in so many households living paycheck to paycheck.

"Family leave is woefully absent in most job places," said Janine Parry, a political science professor at the University of Arkansas who has studied the issue for more than a decade. "Good on his organization for providing it, and shame on those who would criticize him for using it."

Murphy, of course, didn't have to fret over his decision. He could take off whether it cost him or not, given that he'll earn a hefty $5.7 million playing for the Mets this season.

Taking note of that, Francesa and Esiason were the ones who got it all wrong, contending that Murphy's prosperity should've sent him scurrying back to the Mets at least by their second game, since he could easily afford to hire a nurse or nanny to make things easier on his wife. Of course, they completely missed the point of how special — and frightening — those first few days of a new life can be.

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