Daniel Murphy returns to Mets, defends his paternity leave, talks dirty diapers

Mike Oz
Column: Mets' Murphy has his priorities just right
New York Mets' Daniel Murphy stands during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field, Thursday, April 3, 2014, in New York. Murphy is proud he put fatherhood ahead of baseball, and New York Mets manager Terry Collins thinks criticism his second baseman received for taking paternity leave this week was unfair. Murphy made his season debut Thursday three days after the birth of son Noah. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Daniel Murphy, the New York Mets second baseman who this week became a dad for the first time, returned to the team Thursday and addressed the controversy drummed up on New York radio about his decision to take paternity leave.

Murphy's wife gave birth to their first child on opening day in Florida, a son the couple named Noah. Murphy left the team when his wife's water broke, and thus missed the Mets' first game. He then took all three days of paternity leave that MLB players are entitled to, missing another Mets game in the process.

To a few New York radio jocks, this was unacceptable. Mike Francesa, Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason all ripped Murphy for taking paternity leave. Francesa said Murphy's wife didn't need his help the first few days. Carton told Murphy, "get your ass back to work" and Esiason said if it were him, he would have made his wife have a C-section rather than missing opening day.

You can imagine how well those comments went over with the general public. By Thursday morning, this controversy had grown beyond sports. But Murphy, to his credit, kept his cool about the situation, despite all the meddling in his private life. He told ESPN's Adam Rubin

"I got a couple of text messages about it, so I'm not going to sit here and lie and say I didn't hear about it," Murphy said. "But that's the awesome part about being blessed, about being a parent, is you get that choice. My wife and I discussed it, and we felt the best thing for our family was for me to try to stay for an extra day — that being Wednesday — due to the fact that she can't travel for two weeks.

"It's going to be tough for her to get up to New York for a month. I can only speak from my experience — a father seeing his wife — she was completely finished. I mean, she was done. She had surgery and she was wiped. Having me there helped a lot, and vice versa, to take some of the load off. ... It felt, for us, like the right decision to make."

If Murphy thought it was the right decision for his family, and missing two games was within his rights as an MLB player, then that should have been the end of the conversation. Terry Collins, the Mets manager, supported Murphy's decision, citing the fact that Murphy played in 161 of the Mets' 162 games last season. Public opinion largely sided with Murphy as well. It was these three radio jocks leading the charge, insisting that baseball was far more important than the first few days of fatherhood.

Now, about those first few days — Murphy shared a story upon his return that any new parent can relate to:

"We had a really cool occasion yesterday morning, about 3 o'clock. We had our first panic session," Murphy said. "It was dark. She tried to change a diaper -- couldn't do it. I came in. It was just the three of us at 3 o'clock in the morning, all freaking out. He was the only one screaming. I wanted to. I wanted to scream and cry, but I don't think that's publicly acceptable, so I let him do it."

Hey, better a two-day-old baby cry than a few New York City radio hosts.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!