Here’s a shout out to all the dads out there who have a leg up on major league baseball players in at least one area — paternity leave.
Last week, National Public Radio reported that Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis became Major League Baseball’s first player to exercise a new right under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement — the opportunity to take paternity leave in conjunction with the birth of his child. Under the terms of the CBA, MLB players now are allowed to take 24 to 72 hours off due to the birth of their children. (NBC Sports reported shortly afterward that another player, Washington Nationals’ shortstop Ian Desmond, also was preparing himself to take on the roll of “coach” at the side of his wife, who was about to give birth to their first child.)
Not too much to ask for a little bonding time between father and child, don’t you think? Sadly for Lewis, some of the Texas Rangers faithful believe that the 24 to 72 hours provided to bond with your very own newborn is just a tad too much for a baseball pitcher who gets paid millions to play a game he loves. Cried Richie Whitt, a Dallas Observer baseball beat writer:
Baseball players are paid millions to play baseball. If that means ‘scheduling’ births so they occur in the off-season, then so be it. Of the 365 days in a year, starting pitchers “work” maybe 40 of them, counting spring training and playoffs.
If it was a first child, maybe. But a second child causing a player to miss a game? Ludicrous.
Even Rangers president Nolan Ryan acknowledged that he was trying to acclimate himself to the new rule, commenting on ESPN sports radio that a leave of absence to be present for the birth of a child was uncommon in his day:
In those days they never allowed you to go home for a child to be born. It’s just something you heard about if it happened during the season. ‘By the way, you have a new son or daughter,’ a laughing Ryan said, referring to what your wife would say to you over the phone.
Others, such as NBC Sports’ Craig Calcaterra, came to Lewis’ aid, suggesting (appropriately) that the short time away for Lewis and other MLB dads to bond with their newborn child clearly was a “good” reason to be away.
A mere 24 to 72 hours to bond with my kid? Wow. Just when I think I have it rough as an attorney in private practice, I realize I must be living on easy street when compared to guys like Colby Lewis. Ummmm…Right?