Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

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.

baseball

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.

baseball

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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The Lost Boys of Summer

Bad-news-bears Skip: You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!
Larry: Lollygaggers!
Skip: Lollygaggers.

I wasn’t an athletic kid. Sure, I played a few seasons of little league, but I was so bad, and my confidence was so shaken, that I spent most of my time feigning migraines and moping about the dugout. Those seasons, in hindsight, seem more romantic now—the beat-up glove and wooden bat, the brand-new pair of shoes. It was a moment in the sun and it burned me accordingly. It instilled in me an early sense of failure and doubt, which, for the record is the opposite of what it had promised.

I realize now that a lot of what I accepted as goofiness wasn’t really my fault. I was tall and skinny and had the coordination of a one-legged drunk. You couldn’t see me if I turned sideways. My legs went up to my neck, a breeze could knock me over, and my mother forced me to get a perm, which isn’t really relevant but still fucked up.

Luckily, for me, I had other strengths to fall back on and I made it through my childhood nearly intact. By the time I finished high school I was actually becoming quite the sports fan and could spend an afternoon shooting hoops or tossing around the football without looking like a total schmuck. Of course, I had missed the years of coaching and development that my peers had, but I had fun and I was no longer embarrassed.

This just in, being a kid is harder than it looks.

And so I was little hesitant when my son expressed interest in playing baseball. By interest I mean that the neighbor mentioned it to me and the boy wasn’t against it. The neighbor was the coach and by the time we had our first practice I would be his assistant.

Why? Because baseball is what happens between yesterdays and a good stretch, and watching a little league game is like watching children act out poetry. A boy in a ball field just feels right.

I couldn’t help myself, and it wasn’t long before the old fears became new again—I was afraid that I’d look like an idiot some 30 years later. I was afraid that my son would be just like me. I was afraid of not letting him try.

He had never played baseball. His two visits to Dodger Stadium had seen the game overshadowed by hot dogs and cotton candy. All he knew of bases consisted of Hoth and Echo and random games of tag. He had a used glove that he hadn’t worn in over a year—the last time I had tried to engage him in a game of catch, and the last time he had made it clear that he didn’t find it fun. I promised myself that he would not feel the pangs I once had.

The other coaches showed up with bags of bats and balls. I showed up with baggage and a box of granola bars.

This… is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.

Practice started on a sunny morning on cool, green grass. The team practiced this and they practiced that. The coach coached and I assisted, and in doing so I learned things about the game I had never known. Turns out I had never been taught proper fundamentals and technique despite three years of showing up to do so. I felt the stirring of confidence in a hole long left empty. I felt ghosts slowly fade away.

Walt Whitman once said, “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.”

You can look it up.

My son took the field and he threw the ball. He hit the ball. He caught the ball. He rounded third and headed for home, a blue-eyed handsome boy.

On a sunny morning I stood on cool, green grass and felt my losses repaired. It was our game and a blessing to us.

A group of boys ran by me, my son among them. They smiled and laughed and turned left along the baseline.

There wasn’t a lollygagger in the bunch.

Rawlings_baseball

 

__________________________

With apologies to Bull Durham and John Fogerty.

A version of this post first appeared in 2010 on DadCentric

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Stuff I Did Recently

We went to a baseball game on Memorial Day. We cheered for the Mariners, but dressed for the Twins. Apparently. This photo was taken just moments before the boys ate their weight in cotton candy. Ah, sticky, sticky sugar.

We got there really early. Like 1973 if you judge a photo by its cover. Or whatever. What you’re seeing is batting practice back in yesterday.

The place was empty. I blame this on many factors, including a night game on a school night despite everyone having the day off, and also, the Mariners aren’t so good.

Don’t let their smug mugs fool you. They were having fun. Moose out front should have told you. I used that line A LOT.

This is the raccoon that eats our cat food.

And this is a red tricycle in a spring hail storm. I thought it looked like art.

Speaking of art, here is an interview I did with Zanger on The Life Portlandic where I talk about Seattle and allude to things in a deep and literate manner. It’s great fun!

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing. Where have you been?

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