Category Archives: Sports

Marvin’s Uphill Climb

In the Wild Card game last weekend, the Bengals and Steelers both tried their best to see who could be the dirtiest team on the field. The Steelers players and coaches benefited from multiple missed calls to survive the game…thanks to the Bengals’ edging them at the line by committing two of the dumbest penalties ever seen.

Cincinnati fans blamed Joey Porter (on the field when he shouldn’t have been), Steelers fans don’t think anything was wrong other than Wallace Gilberry intentionally bumping Porter.

The problem with the whole thing is that both Marvin Lewis and Mike Tomlin have lost control of their teams…and coaching staffs. Steelers Offensive Line coach Mike Munchak pulled the hair of Bengals Safety Reggie Nelson when Nelson shoved Jordan Todman into the Steelers bench, and Outside Linebackers coach Joey Porter was on the field antagonizing Bengals players after wide receiver Antonio Brown was knocked unconcious by linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

The Bengals, not to be out done, saw Jeremy Hill come off the bench antagonizing four Steelers players after Ryan Shazier knocked Giovani Bernard out of the game with a hit that should have been flagged as a “spearing” penalty. Bengals DT Domata Peko also came off the bench to shove Mike Mitchell while wearing what looked like a cape.

Who’s in control here?

For Tomlin, this seems to be business as usual. The Steelers have always played on the edge of out of control even during the glory days of Chuck Noll. Remember this guy?

Tomlin, as Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports has noted, looks and carries himself like a player…not the Head Coach of an NFL franchise. He’s already been fined $100,000 by the NFL for stepping out onto the field during a kickoff return by Jacoby Jones in Baltimore.

For Lewis, this seems to be the new normal. The Bengals employ a number of players on their roster that came to them with…”baggage.” Adam “Pacman” Jones’s issues with teammates and law enforcement are well-documented. Burfict was a dirty player at Arizona State and went undrafted in the same NFL that managed to draft Randy Moss in the first round. Both were signed by the Bengals, who promptly build their defense around them.

But…why?

Why would Marvin Lewis, an extraordinary defensive coordinator, do this? Why would he employ players that he knows are volatile and prone to these types of melt-downs? Additionally, why would he not grasp control over his team in times of crisis?

Two Words: Mike Brown

Cincinnati Bengals Owner – Mike Brown

Fans today tend to forget how awful the Cincinnati Bengals have been under Brown’s ownership, due to the success of Marvin Lewis. After Sam Wyche took the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII Brown fired the popular coach in 1991. The next 11 years would be the worst collective record in the NFL. Lewis has ushered in a run of success at Cincinnati that it hasn’t seen since Paul Brown roamed the sidelines. Lewis’ 14 years have been amazing…except the playoffs where Lewis is 0-7 (an NFL record).

That Lewis has been successful at all in Cincinnati is somewhat of a miracle given the constraints placed upon him by ownership. The Bengals’ management reads like the Brown family photo album…but so does the Steelers. The difference is that the Steelers employ a General Manager who is NOT part of the family (Kevin Colbert), a Director of Football Operations (Omar Khan) and 15 other “Football Operations” staff who are not part of the Rooney family. This gets better…The Bengals are run by Mike Brown who is the CEO and the General Manager (and gets a bonus for that title), his brother Pete is the Senior VP, his daughter Katie Blackburn is the Executive VP, his son Paul is the VP of Player Personnel, his Son-in-Law Troy is another VP. Nepotism anyone?

Compared to other NFL front offices, the Bengals’ front office reads like the skeleton crew that works Christmas morning at Wal-Mart. Whereas other NFL teams employ an average of 20 Player Personnel staff…the Bengals employ five…FIVE. They have a grand total of four scouts and one scouting consultant (John Cooper, the old Ohio State University football coach). By contrast, here is the breakdown of the Player Personnel departments of the most successful franchises in the league:

Team Player/Personnel Staff Scouts
Ravens 25 8
Packers 20 12
Broncos 20 9
Steelers 19 8
Giants 17 10

…and this is the Bengals

Team Player/Personnel Staff Scouts
Bengals 5 4

Marvin Lewis is having to coach his team, in one of the most competitive divisions in football, against two of the most successful franchises in the league (Steelers and Ravens)…AND run his own scouting department! All of these other teams have double the number of scouts, and quadruple the staff of the Bengals. Is Lewis also booking his own airfare? Is it any wonder that the Bengals are continuing to have to take chances on players that other teams pass on?

The success Lewis has had has come against a swelling tide of negativity and frugality by the Bengals organization. It remains the most lean operation in the NFL, employing a grand total of 74 staff. The Bengals employ as many Information Technology staff as they do scouts…to run a football team. The Bengals remain the northern-most team in the NFL without an indoor practice facility. When they do need to practice indoors, they must rent the facility from the University of Cincinnati. The NFL team has to rent from the non-powerhouse college to practice indoors.

Mike Brown continues to run the Cincinnati Bengals football team like the year is 1968. When his father, Paul Brown founded the team, the owner and coach was able to do his own scouting and coach…because Paul Brown was a genius and a Hall of Fame football coach…and because the NFL was nowhere close to being the sophisticated machine that it is today. Paul Brown also had an eye for coaching talent finding a young Bill Walsh to coach his offense.

Mike Brown isn’t his father, and the Bengals are woefully understaffed to compete in today’s NFL without cutting corners. The easiest corner to cut is in scouting. Take the players that are good and hope your coach can do something with them.

Open Letter to Georgia fans…

Dear Dawgs,

In case you aren’t aware, you just lost the most successful coach in your program’s history.  That’s right, Mark Richt was more successful than anyone in your program’s history and you pushed him out the door.  Vince Dooley…”Hall of Fame coach”…is a myth.  He’s a good coach who won the same number of National and Conference championships in 25 years at Georgia…that Steve Spurrier did in half the time at Florida.

Winning

From 2001 to 2015, Richt won 74% of his games overall and 70% of his conference games.  Dooley coached at Georgia for 25 years, so is it fair to compare all 25 or just the first 15 years?  We will do both.  In the 25 years Dooley coached at Georgia he won 69.8% of his games overall and 69.8% of his conference games.  In the 15-year comparison, Dooley won 66.3% of his games overall and 63.6% of his conference games.

In looking at raw numbers (number of wins), you automatically skew toward Richt because of the 12-game schedule and the presence of the SEC Championship game, so Richt automatically has more opportunity to win games… but percentages do not lie.

Championships

  • Dooley:  6 SEC Championships, 1 National Championship (1980) in 25 years
  • Dooley from 1964-1978 (1st 15 years):  3 SEC Championships (1966, 1968 & 1976)
  • Richt: 2 SEC Championships, 6 SEC East Division titles (not available to Dooley)

Bowl Games

This is a little troublesome because in Dooley’s time at Georgia there were far fewer bowls for a team to participate in than there are currently.  In today’s NCAA Football landscape, there are so many bowl games that the NCAA is considering allowing teams who do not have winning records to go to a bowl.

Dooley led Georgia to 20 bowl games in 25 years. In his first 15 years at Georgia, Dooley led them to 11 bowls.  His overall bowl record is 8-9-2 whereas in his 11 bowls from ’64-’78 he was 4-7.  Both are losing records.

Richt led the Dawgs to 14 bowl games in his tenure as coach (every season), going 9-5 in those games.  Georgia will also be in a bowl in 2015, Richt just won’t be the coach.

Richt

Strength of Record

Here’s where the rubber hits the road, even if you think that Richt’s numbers are bloated or that he “underachieved” while at Georgia.  Scholarship restrictions instituted in 1973 reduced the number of available scholarships to 95, further restrictions in 1992 reduced that number to 85.  Dooley never coached under the current scholarship model, and for the first nine years of his tenure at Georgia he had zero restrictions on the number of scholarships awarded.  Richt has had to manage rosters in a more modern league with far fewer scholarships than Dooley had available and Richt’s winning percentage is a full 10 percentage points higher over the same nine-year stretch.

The Southeastern Conference is a radically different animal now than what it was from 1964-1988.  Because schools could make their own schedules, even in conference, Vince Dooley’s Georgia teams did not have to regularly play Bear Bryant’s powerhouse Alabama teams.  In fact, Georgia played Alabama only eight times from 1964 to 1988, Georgia won three of those games.  Georgia played powerhouse Tennessee seven times, winning four.  Seven of the programs 15 most difficult schedules in history were played under Richt’s watch including the top two (2011 & 2008);

The Herschel Walker Effect

WalkerIn 1979, Vince Dooley signed the most important player in Georgia football history, Herschel Walker.  To that point, Georgia had won a few conference titles, but was still averaging seven wins per season under Dooley.  Georgia had lost four consecutive bowl games and was coming off a 6-5 season.

The arrival of Walker changed Georgia.  The Bulldogs, with Walker in the backfield, went 33-3 over the next three seasons (1980-82) before Walker turned pro.  Georgia won the National Championship in Walker’s freshman year, and added two SEC Championships in ’81 and ’82.  Walker capped his Georgia career winning the Heisman Trophy his final season.  Even having Walker on campus for a full three seasons, Dooley was only able to win a single National Championship.

After Walker’s departure Georgia would not win another SEC title for 20 years, Mark Richt’s second year on the job.  Vince Dooley won 10 games in 1983, and would not repeat that again, winning 7 games in 1984 and ’85, 8 games in ’86 and 9 games in ’87 & ’88 before retiring.

The Reminder

Maybe you Georgia fans are remembering those three years with fondness and you’ve forgotten just how much Dooley struggled outside of “the Walker years.”  Do you Georgia fans remember that from 1977-79 Georgia was 20-13?  Do you remember that the only postseason you had in that time was a loss to Stanford in the Bluebonnet Bowl?  Do you remember that from 1983-1988 you were 3-1-2 in bowl games, not one of which was a major bowl?

You don’t.  You don’t remember how average Vince Dooley was from 1977-1988 without Herschel Walker.  You don’t remember that Dooley had a losing record to Bear Bryant.  You don’t remember that Dooley had a losing bowl record, or that he barely cracked the Top 25 twice in his last five years…LEGEND. You don’t remember how bad things got after Dooley retired and before Mark Richt arrived either.  All time, Georgia wins about 65% of its games, Dooley for the first 15 years was below average, Richt…significantly better.

The SEC Schedule, TV Heaven

Is the SEC cheating its television partners in Week 12?

Multiple media members have posited the idea that the SEC should join other “Power 5” conferences (BigXII & Pac12) in playing a 9-game conference schedule in the regular season. Tim Brando of Fox Sports (among others) have taken to Twitter and other outlets to decry the week 12 schedule as abysmal and they complain that it is akin to the SEC stealing money from their television partners.

Frankly, the SEC’s slate of games in Week 12 is not good (six games against *ahem* less than stellar competition), but I would argue the SEC’s schedule is more balanced from Week 1 to Week 13 than any other conference.  To this end, let us look at data to see where SEC scheduling compares with other conferences.

Methodology:

From the outset we will determine whether a school is attempting to schedule strongly by looking at two factors: how many teams are on the schedule from the other “Power 5” conferences (ACC, B1G, BigXII, Pac12 & SEC), and secondly where do the conference games fall on those schedules.  Additionally, we will count both Notre Dame and Brigham Young Universities as “Power 5” schools even though they are independents, given their relative history as football programs.

Lastly, all scheduling of teams from outside of the “Power 5” conferences will be treated equally without regard to their current standing in the polls or rankings.  This is done for the simple reason that schedules are made up at a minimum of 3-5 years in advance.  Attempting to schedule “Power 5” teams is an attempt to schedule an opponent of equal size and strength (relatively).  The Non-Power 5 schools fluctuate wildly in their relative strength.

The Data:

Conference Games

The College Football regular season takes place in thirds and for most conferences, the league schedules begin in earnest the 4th week of the season.  This is particularly the case with the ACC, the BigXII and the B1G Conference.  The Pac12 and the SEC start their conference seasons earlier in September.  The schools of the SEC played 12 conference games in the month of September, by far the highest of all conferences.  The BigXII and B1G by comparison played two, and one in September (respectively).  The SEC filled 46% of its available game slots with conference games.  Among them, Florida vs. Tennessee, LSU vs. Auburn, Mississippi vs. Alabama and Arkansas vs. Texas A&M.  All of which are intra-conference rivalry games.  The Pac12 gave their television partners six conference games in September; among them, Stanford vs. USC and Arizona State vs. USC.  The biggest conference game the ACC provided television partners was Clemson vs. Louisville, the B1G had one conference game; Rutgers and Penn State.

As a monthly average across the entire season, the highest monthly percentage of conference games goes to the Pac12 at 68%, the SEC is at 64% and the ACC at 60%, the average percentage of conference games by month is 61%.

Conference Percentage

Conf

Sept Oct Nov

Average

ACC 14% 86% 79% 60%
B1G 4% 73% 94% 57%
BigXII 5% 88% 80% 58%
Pac12 25% 83% 96% 68%
SEC 46% 70% 75% 64%
Total 19% 80% 85% 61%

Non-Conference Games

A measure of a school’s willingness to challenge its self is to gauge its schedule of teams from other “Power 5” conferences.  Sometimes this is the case of an in-state rivalry, sometimes it is a game of national importance.  Either way, the scheduling of non-conference “Power 5” teams shows the school (and by extension, the conference) is at least willing to try to create a good schedule.

The leader in this category is the ACC.  The schools of the ACC will play a total of 22 games outside of their conference against “Power 5” schools.  This is, by far, the most…but with one caveat:  six of those 22 games come against Notre Dame, who joined the ACC as a partial member.  While these are technically non-conference games, they are part of a contract between the ACC and Notre Dame.  Taken away, the ACC has 16 Power-5 Non-conference games.  Other conferences scheduled as follows:

Conf

Count

ACC 22
B1G 18
BigXII 8
Pac12 11
SEC 12

 

Power Percentage

Conf

Sept Oct Nov

Average

ACC 38% 89% 91% 72%
B1G 42% 73% 94% 70%
BigXII 25% 88% 80% 64%
Pac12 40% 85% 98% 74%
SEC 59% 70% 84% 71%
Total 41% 81% 89% 70%

While the SEC will schedule six teams in Week 12 who are not “Power 5” teams (14% of the schedule), the September schedule is 13 percentage points lower than the national average in this category and 19 points lower than the BigXII.  Take away the SEC’s 41% and the national average of game slots filled by teams not from “Power 5” conferences swells up to 58%.  On balance, the SEC evenly distributes what many pundits would call “bad games” against inferior competition.

Non-Power Percentage

Conf

Sept Oct Nov

Average

ACC 55% 3% 2% 20%
B1G 58% 8% 0% 22%
BigXII 60% 0% 0% 20%
Pac12 58% 0% 0% 19%
SEC 41% 11% 14% 22%
Total 55% 5% 3% 21%

Time Off:

Some conferences space these off weeks out and others would rather have those off-weeks come in the middle of the grueling season.  The chart below shows the distribution (by percentage) of off weeks throughout the season.

The Pac12, SEC and B1G schedule almost all of their off weeks in October, whereas the ACC and BigXII evenly distribute.  The SEC has a total of one off-week in the months of September and November combined.  The confernce scehdules the 13 other off weeks in October during the height of the confernece schedule.

Time off Percentage

Conf

Sept Oct Nov

Average

ACC 7% 9% 7% 8%
B1G 0% 18% 6% 8%
BigXII 15% 12% 20% 16%*
Pac12 2% 15% 2% 6%
SEC 0% 19% 2% 7%
Total 5% 14% 7% 9%

* Note: the BigXII concludes its regular season on December 5th, 6 off weeks are calculated into this percentage.

Conclusion:

So what are we to take away from all of this?  Is the SEC “robbing” its television partners in Week 12?  No more than the BigXII is in the month of September where the conference plays all of 25% of its games against Power 5 teams.  No more than the ACC who plays all of 38% of its games against Power 5 teams.

If anything, the SEC does a much better job of catering to television partners than any other conference because it evenly distributes both its conference and non-conference games through all three months of the schedule.

The SEC also concludes the season with a slate of games that showers their television partners with ratings-grabbers.  Alabama & Auburn, Texas A&M & LSU, Ole Miss & Mississippi State, Florida & Florida State, Georgia & Georgia Tech, South Carolina & Clemson, and Kentucky vs. Louisville.  That’s seven quality games for television partners to broadcast.

If any conference is “robbing” their television partners, it is the BigXII.  The conference has almost no conference games in September, and has the fewest non-conference games against other “Power 5” schools.  The B1G, to its credit schedules 18 non-conference “Power 5” games in September to make up for having very few conference games.

Does the SEC need to add a 9th game to their conference schedule?  The question begs another question:  Would adding a 9th game to the conference slate change the scheduling of Week 12?  Probably not.  The SEC has shown that it will front-load the schedule willingly to play bigger conference games earlier and take their bye-weeks in October…which would leave the other games (non Power 5) for the later weeks.

SEC to the Nation: You’re Welcome

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive

Even when the Southeastern Conference was reaping the rewards of the Bowl Championship Series that crowned seven consecutive National Champions for the conference, its commissioner (Mike Slive) began pushing for a playoff system.  At SEC meetings in the summer of 2007, then-President of the University of Florida, Bernie

University of Florida President Bernie Machen

Machen, advanced the idea of a “Plus One” system that would allow a selection committee to draw-up a championship format.

What we have today is not exactly the “Plus One” pushed initially by Machen-then-Slive, but college football would not have its precious playoff without their insistence.  It was Slive who took Machen’s presentation to the remaining commissioners and eventually went to war with the BigTen’s Jim Delaney over the idea.

BigTen Commissioner Jim Delaney

The Pac10 (now 12) lined-up behind Delaney, while the BigXII and the ACC eventually sided with Slive.

While the public outside the South may be reveling in the idea that no SEC school advanced to the Finals in Dallas on January 12th, the public should send a huge “thank you” note to the conference.  Without the SEC’s power,  influence and string of championships the playoff wouldn’t be here.   Oregon and Ohio State would not have been selected to participate in the BCS Championship this year…those two slots would have been taken-up by Alabama and Florida State.

For the good of the game…

The three conferences who pushed for the playoff system are, ironically, out of the playoff system.  The ACC and SEC Champions lost their semi-final games while both of the BigXII Champions were excluded from the process entirely.  Had the system been left alone, those three conferences would have reaped HUGE rewards.  The old BCS system would have selected Alabama and Florida State to play for the National Championship and both TCU and Baylor would likely have been selected for BCS bowl games.  As it is, the BigTen and Pac12 will play in the title game that neither conference wanted.  Until they did

Well, you’re welcome.

Corroded Sterling, Kareem Nails it…

Six-Time NBA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks-out on the finger-wagging being done by the media and asks the exact question everyone else SHOULD be asking:  This was a surprise to you?  Donald Sterling is truly a despicable human being, but this isn’t news.  Why the moral outrage now?

Do not get caught-up in Kareem’s politics here, you’ll miss the greater point.

Time Magazine

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Moral outrage is exhausting. And dangerous. The whole country has gotten a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome from the newest popular sport of Extreme Finger Wagging. Not to mention the neck strain from Olympic tryouts for Morally Superior Head Shaking. All over the latest in a long line of rich white celebrities to come out of the racist closet.

Yes, I’m angry, too, but not just about the sins of Donald Sterling. I’ve got a list. But let’s start with Sterling. I used to work for him, back in 2000 when I coached for the Clippers for three months. He was congenial, even inviting me to his daughter’s wedding. Nothing happened or was said to indicate he suffered from IPMS (Irritable Plantation Master Syndrome). Since then, a lot has been revealed about Sterling’s business practices:

  • 2006: U.S. Dept. of Justice sued Sterling for housing Donald Sterlingdiscrimination. Allegedly, he said, “Black tenants smell and attract vermin.”
  • 2009: He reportedly paid $2.73 million in a Justice Dept. suit alleging he discriminated against blacks, Hispanics, and families with children in his rentals. (He also had to pay an additional nearly $5 million in attorneys fees and costs due to his counsel’s “sometimes outrageous conduct.”)
  • 2009: Clippers executive (and one of the greatest NBA players in history) sued for employment discrimination based on age and race.

Rape @ State…

The New York Times…

A Star Player Accused, and a Flawed Rape Investigation

By WALT BOGDANICH

Tallahassee, Fla. — Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 2012, a freshman at Florida State University reported that she had been raped by a stranger somewhere off campus after a night of drinking at a popular Tallahassee bar called Potbelly’s.

As she gave her account to the police, several bruises began to appear, indicating recent trauma. Tests would later find semen on her underwear.

For nearly a year, the events of that evening remained a well-kept secret until the woman’s allegations burst into the open, roiling the university and threatening a prized asset: Jameis Winston, one of the marquee names of college football.

Three weeks after Mr. Winston was publicly identified as the suspect, the storm had passed. The local prosecutor announced that he lacked the evidence to charge Mr. Winston with rape. The quarterback would go on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Florida State to the national championship.

After a Florida State student accused quarterback Jameis Winston of rape, the police did not interview him or obtain his DNA. Phil Sears/Associated Press

In his announcement, the prosecutor, William N. Meggs,

State Attorney Willie Meggs
State Attorney Willie Meggs

acknowledged a number of shortcomings in the police investigation. In fact, an examination by The New York Times has found that there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.

The police did not follow the obvious leads that would have quickly identified the suspect as well as witnesses, one of whom videotaped part of the sexual encounter. After the accuser identified Mr. Winston as her assailant, the police did not even attempt to interview him for nearly two weeks and never obtained his DNA.

Continue at NYT.com…

Figure it out…

The NCAA needs to figure this out if it hopes to have a future.  Its athletes (in major sports) are not amateurs, they are semi-employed fund-raisers for the school, the conference and the national associations to which the school belongs.  Let’s be clear here, we are talking specifically about revenue-generating sports.  For schools like Texas, Ohio State and Alabama, that major sport is Football.  For Duke, North Carolina and UCLA, that sport is Basketball.  At Tennessee it is football and Women’s basketball.

The reality is that the athletes (especially in football) have no choice but to serve their three years before entering the NFL draft.  That’s not an NCAA rule, that’s an NFL one.  The NBA has a similar rule, but it is only for one year.  The athletes don’t necessarily have to play, but they can’t go to the professional league for a specific number of years.  One could say to the prospective football player “go to Canada” but even then you are actually going to a different game and possibly lesser competition than say the SEC or BigXII.

Yes, the athletes get a “free” education…but even then it isn’t truly free.  They get their tuition, books and boarding paid.  No stipend, no off-campus housing allowances, no technology budget.  The NCAA’s rule book for what can be given to an athlete make War and Peace look like a little light reading.  Additionally, the NCAA regulates how and when an athlete can work…and how much they can be paid for that work.  It isn’t much.  You wonder why players get paid by boosters when they clearly aren’t supposed to?  It’s because they are BROKE.

This, however, is the worst part of what the NCAA is doing to student-athletes…selling their name for profit.  Yep, the NCAA, which is a dot-org (meaning not-for-profit) is profiting off of the very players they classify as amateurs…who are not permitted to profit off their own names.  Go back and read that again…

In the off-season prior to the 2013 football season, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel  was investigated on allegations he signed autographs for memorabilia dealers, which is a violation of NCAA rules.  The NCAA couldn’t fully prove that Manziel profited off the signings, but common-sense would indicate that he did.  The player signed thousands of items.  Meanwhile, at the NCAA store, you could have purchased a Texas A&M jersey with a big number 2 on the back (Manziel’s number).  Texas A&M and the NCAA are both making money off the player…who can’t make money off himself.

I know, my head hurts too…

Here’s GRB’s solution:  Sell jerseys with three options for numbers…

  1. You can sell #1 on your jersey.  Everybody likes to be #1, everybody wants to be #1, so that’s logical.
  2. You can sell a number that is significant to your school’s history.  Alabama claims to have 15 national championships, great…go sell a bunch of #15’s.  Miami has 5, FSU has 3…you get the idea.  If there is another one, great…Justify it with the NCAA a year in advance.
  3. You can sell a number that is of a player who previously played for the school, but you must also share proceeds of the sales with said player.  No more cheesing off the backs of the student-athletes.  The NCAA can standardize this.  You can have up to three of these retro-jerseys.

No selling of any memorabilia with numbers, nicknames, images or anything else linking to players currently on scholarship with the school/program.

Even if the NCAA never agrees to pay players or give them a stipend, the least it can do is agree to stop using their likenesses for profit.

 

 

Murphy Was Right, Francesa/Esiason…not so much

This week it was announced that the New York Mets’ second baseman, Daniel Murphy would be taking a “few days off” in Paternity Leave.  Murphy’s wife, Victoria, gave birth to their first child on March 31st.  This time off coincided with the Mets’ opening day, and predictably the knucklehead fans took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.

Yes, we get it, you think “Paternity Leave” is a joke.  Mike Francesa, FrancesaWFAN sports radio talk show host took to the airwaves to fan the flames and called-out Murphy:

I don’t know why you need three days off, I’m going to be honest. You see the birth and you get back. What do you do in the first couple days? Maybe you take care of the other kids. Well, you gotta have someone to do that if you’re a Major League Baseball player. I’m sorry, but you do. Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple days, you know that.

Francesa continued…

What are you going to do? I mean you are going to sit there and look at your wife in a hospital bed for two days? Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple of days; you know that you’re not doing much the first couple days with the baby that was just born.

Boomer Esiason got in on the action as well inferring that Murphy’s Esiasonwife should have had a c-section before the season so that Murphy could have been present for opening day.  Esiason has since back-tracked from those comments, but the former Jets quarterback never backed away from his opinion that players should not miss games after a child is born.

The testosterone-charged machismo world of the American male puts pressure on the husband/father to abandon his family and get back to work.  Francesa framed his criticism around the “you’re a Major League Baseball player” status of Murphy and that it was more important for the player to be in New York with his team than in Jacksonville with his family.

Maybe Francesa is a good husband/father, I don’t know the man, but his comments indicate that he is of the “the wife raises the children and I bring home a paycheck” crowd.  Well good for Mr. Francesa, but that’s not how healthy marriages work.  The husband is there to serve his family, in whatever way is necessary.  If that means taking a couple days off work to care for the family, then that’s what you do.

Child birth is traumatic for a woman’s body, frankly, I don’t know how they do it.  It has been often said that if men bore the burden of childbirth, the human race would be extinct…and I COMPLETELY AGREE.  I watched it, twice, it ain’t pretty.  As a husband and father, your entire world changes at the very moment the child emerges from its mother.  You are now responsible for more than just yourself.  You now have a family to provide for, to protect, and now to serve.

In the moments after birth, your wife is going to be a wreck.  YOU have to run interference.  You have to make sure the hospital room door is closed until your wife is ready for people to see her.  You have to tell people “no.”  …yes, even your wife’s mother.  No easy task, but it is yours.

So what does the husband/father do in that first week when the baby is born?  Whatever the mother/wife needs, that’s what.  If that means fending off the in-laws/neighbors/friends from coming over, so be it.  If that means cooking/cleaning/laundry/etc…then so be it.

What Daniel Murphy did was the honorable thing to do.  Take a couple of days to care for your family and then get back to work.  Certainly the job of a baseball player is less important than that of a husband.  It is a very long season, Mets fans.  Murphy missed two games.  He is modeling what being a good husband and father should be, and for that he should be celebrated, not denigrated.