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I continue to get email responding to to my "Birth Order" FaceTime commentary, which lambasted a couple of New York sportscasters (Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa) for suggesting that NY Mets second baseman should not have taken three days of paternity leave, missing two games, when his first child was born.

MNB reader Gary Harris wrote:

I was surprised at Boomer Esiason’s comments especially in light of an HBO Real Sports program I had seen just a few months ago.

It seems that Boomer attended a sports award banquet early in his career. The keynote speaker was sports journalist Frank Deford, who spoke about the recent loss of his daughter to Cystic Fibrosis. Not long after, Boomer and his wife went through a similar experience when his son, Gunnar, was diagnosed with the same disease.

The show looks at the amazing series of events that caused Esiason’s and Deford’s paths to cross, and the work that’s been done to fight this disease, especially on Boomer’s part. While I’m sure his experience gives him a different perspective, I would have expected it would put him squarely in the ‘do what you need to do for your family’ camp rather than the ‘take one for the team’ crowd.

Agreed. I think he just caught up in the whole "jock ethic" thing, which is why he apologized the next day.

MNB user Mark Raddant wrote:

When my oldest child was born, I was there.  It had been a very hard labor for my wife, and my son was born blue with the cord wrapped around his neck.  The hospital staff was great and when my son was in the clear they handed him to me.  His eyes opened wide and looked right into mine.  He is about to turn thirty and every once in a while when we are together, our eyes meet and I swear that first look is still there; that connection made in those first moments still exists.

I made a point to look into my other two children’s eyes at their birth.  I would not give up those moments and the connections that were forged then for anything.

From MNB reader Chris Zook:

I think it’s a great idea for ballplayers to be able to take time off for the birth of their kids and this is something new for them to be able to do without causing too many problems for their team player wise.  I’ve never have had the opportunity to give birth but my first thought was how would the father feel if something would have happened to his wife or child during childbirth and he wasn’t there?  No one knows if it’s going to be an easy birth or if complications are going to come up in the delivery or a day or two after.  I’m a White Sox fan and I’m happy when I hear that one of our players has missed a few games to be with their wife for this life event.  It shows that people care and there is more to life than just baseball.

And MNB reader Keith Gleason:

Thanks for the comments.  It is hard to believe that such a controversy could erupt over something like this, but then again, nothing seems to surprise me anymore.  I, like you, am a father of three, and I can honestly say that my life changed tremendously when my first son was born.  I took a week off, and while at times I was probably more in the way then a help, I wouldn’t trade the time for anything.  This is particularly true when, at 5 months old, my son was diagnosed with a serious congenital heart disease.  Over the years, I spent a lot of time taking time off from work due to extended hospital stays and the births of my next two children.  Some of my bosses were supportive, others not so much.  I learned early that family comes first.  Period, no exceptions.  Did it hurt my career?  Probably.  Due to my son’s heart condition, we were limited in where we could live.  The opportunity to work in the Foreign Service was passed up because it would require us to live in places where medical services wouldn’t have been the best.  Chances of working my way up the corporate ladder were limited because I wasn’t willing, in the words of one VP I worked for, to “put first things first”, i.e., working long hours including weekends to show that my job was my first priority.  Whatever.  I have no regrets.

I have a wonderful family that brings me more joy and happiness than any job could ever deliver.  That point was hammered home when my son succumbed to the heart disease he had battled so courageously for almost 16 years.  Regrets?  Only that I couldn’t spend more time with the son that I lost after a very short, incredibly fast 15 years, 11 months and 17 days.  A job is just a job; family is forever.

MNB reader George J. Denman wrote:

George Washington said it best: “ Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”  While both of my children were adopted at older ages, I would have done anything to have been at their births. I just don’t get where your job could ever be that more important than experiencing the birth of your child. Its baseball for god’s sake…. Not brain surgery.

But, of course, there's always one:

A professional athlete on a team needs to put his team and winning first.  He was very selfish only thinking of himself and his wife ahead of his team, his owner, and his fans.  I really doubt you would have attended your child's own birth if it was going to personally cost you the same economic impact of what a second baseman could cost a team.  Then again perhaps his mind would not be in the game.

My first child, my boss would not let me off work but I did get there as soon as my shift was over.  Second child I just took the first child to McDonalds.  It was late at night and no one around to babysit.  Funny how some men like to watch the birth but when its time for the circumcision, they are nowhere to be found.

There are a couple of things that astound me here.

One is that having been denied the opportunity to be at your first child's birth by a boss (a decision that strikes me as incomprehensible), you don't learn from it, but rather double down … saying that a person should put business ahead of family. There are few things more tragic than a person who does not learn from experience. (Though one of them may be a man who does not understand what it is to be a man.)

As for your second child's birth … it seems to me that there are two likely possibilities. One is that you didn't try very hard. The other is that you don't have any friends. (Knowing who wrote this email, I suspect the latter. And so would many longtime MNB readers.)

I am sympathetic to people who, because of personal circumstances, are unable to do things like be at their child's birth. I am less so toward people who don't seem to care.
KC's View: