It might have seemed like an unsurprising thing to do when Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy took three entire days off to tend to his newborn child, but if you listen to sports commentary, you know that it was not without controversy.
Mike Francesa said on his WFAN radio show that paternity leave is a ridiculous idea for a professional baseball player, and that he, for one, worked on the very days his kids were born. In a line that will almost surely not one day lead to a Great Santini basketball-on-the-head situation, Francesa demanded to know what a new father would be doing once the birth was done and he'd swung by to say hello to the baby. "What was I gonna do, sit with my wife in the hospital?"
Yuck, wives. Yuck, babies. Yuck, hospitals! That sounds terrible.
Not to be outdone, WFAN host Boomer Esiason, who I think perhaps was sportsy himself at one time, took the position that he, like a real man, would have his wife get a c-section before the beginning of the season — apparently on the theory that babies can sort of be delivered whenever, much as one plans a fancy party.
We figured that if we can interview paper bags and toy irons, why not a hypothetical baby? Thus, we traveled into another dimension to talk to a four-hour-old super-independent athlete baby who does not exist but who — spoiler alert! — thinks dad should get back to work.
Monkey See: Thanks for talking to us, Athlete Baby. How's it going so far?
Athlete Baby: Pretty well. Ten-hut! Heh, heh. But seriously, I'm doing fine. I just had a protein shake.
You're drinking protein shakes?
Yeah, my mom was like, "Oooooh, I want to give of myself to you" and all that, but that's not going to put on muscle. What's going to put on muscle is this shake, and increasing the amount of weight, not the number of reps. Have you heard of Crossfit? That's what I'm going to be doing once I can stand up.
How strong are you trying to get?
Well, you know what they say. If you and the cat are being chased by a bear, you don't have to outcrawl the bear, you just have to outcrawl the cat.
You can crawl?
My dad left a coaching video when he was here. One video on crawling, and this book on John Wooden's philosophy of teamwork. It's over there on the table, under Mom's pain meds. I've been watching them over and over. I'll get it. It's mind over matter. I think Alex Rodriguez said that.
Oh. Your dad did come to see you, then.
Sure. He's a great guy. Joe, I think? Jeff? [Athlete Baby's paid handler whispers in Athlete Baby's ear] Jack. My dad's name is Jack. Great guy. We have plenty of time to get to know each other, so I told him to scram. He stopped by and pulled my toe, and he gave my mom a plant. Some hypoallergenic [thing], you know how hospitals are. And after about five minutes, I was like, "What are you still doing here?" And my mom was like, "Seriously, dude."
Was he reluctant to leave?
He wanted to ... well, I don't even know what he wanted to do. Moon over my mother? Poke me in the belly? I'm not much to see right now, unless you want to gaze upon the miracle of life and contemplate the fact that you've managed to place something in the world that's bigger than yourself, which [rolls eyes]. He kept staring at me. Staring at me. Staring at me. I'm like, "Dude, I'll still be here tomorrow; can you say the same for your spot at first base?" So he got back to business where he belongs. I think he's stretching.
Was your mom bummed that he left?
No, no. Carol's a tough old bird. She was telling me how lots of dads can't spend a lot of time off at first for lots of reasons — making ends meet, not-so-generous leave policies, and of course, the fact that hanging around makes you a wuss. There was water coming out of her eyes, but I can't make much of that yet. I assume that's just what eyes do when you're glad a guy is out there taking care of the important stuff. Like batting practice.
Who's been looking out for you?
Oh, I mostly keep to myself. I've been sleeping these first few hours — I got in a light workout, but mostly I'm doing a lot of blinking. And I do isometrics when I get a chance. You'd be surprised what you can accomplish without being able to lift your head.
What are your plans now?
My plans? I plan to be awesome. I plan to rule. I watched them change my diaper about 15 minutes ago; I'm pretty sure I can do it. These kids today, with their trophies for participation, they probably expect everybody else to change their diapers. But because my parents are successful capitalists, they can pay people to do that, and because I am made of stern stuff, before you know it, I'll be able to do it myself. I can already ring for the nurse.
You ... you can?
I can. But don't tell them. I keep doing it, and then the nurse runs in like, "What do you need?" And Carol says, "What do you mean?" And the nurse gets mad and stomps off. It is hi-lar-ious. Oh, Carol. Good lady. Jeff is lucky to have her. [more whispering] Jack.