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Anyone who criticized Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for missing the first two games of the season to attend the birth of his child is completely out of line.

Talk-radio hosts Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa each took shots at Murphy. Francesa said it was okay for Murphy to attend the actual birth but that he could have hired a nurse to tend to his wife for her recovery from a caesarean section. Esiason said if his wife were pregnant, he would have wanted her to have a C-section before the season started.

Esiason apologized on his radio show Friday, saying that he had no right to tell someone what they should do and that he felt bad the Murphys' personal decision was exposed publicly. Esiason seemed contrite, although you wonder if that contrition came only after the negative backlash he got for his original position.

We always say that nothing should come before family, and here's Murphy being criticized for putting his family first. Of course his priority should be his family. Was he supposed to put the Mets and New York fans ahead of his own wife and child? That's crazy.

Having said that, if an athlete misses the birth of his child to play in a game, he shouldn't be criticized either. That's between him and the mother of his child.

Bottom line is these are personal, private decisions. None of us has the right to tell someone how to make those decisions and where their priorities should be.

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You bet

The betting website,, has put out its odds for the Stanley Cup and, to no surprise, the Bruins are the heavy favorite at 9-2. They are followed by the Blues (5-1) and the defending champion Blackhawks (13-2). The Lightning has the 12th-best odds at 25-1.

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Media notes

- Josh Elliott has left Good Morning America for NBC Sports. The New York Times is reporting that Elliott will work the Triple Crown horse races, tennis' French Open, features for Sunday Night Football and will have a role on NBC's Olympic coverage. Sounds like the 42-year-old Elliott is being groomed as the successor to Bob Costas, although Costas, 62, shows no signs of slowing down.

- Speaking of Good Morning America, Michael Strahan will join ABC's morning show on a part-time basis. However, that gig will not affect his role on the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show.

- Televised sports lost one of the greats last week. Director Sandy Grossman died of complications from cancer. He was 78. Grossman won eight Sports Emmys while working for CBS and Fox, and directed NFL games for 21 seasons, mostly on the telecasts handled by announcers Pat Summerall and John Madden. He was in charge of 10 Super Bowls, more than any director ever, as well as 18 NBA Finals and five Stanley Cup finals.

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Out of the Woods

Tiger Woods will miss the Masters. For just about any other tournament, that would be a disaster. But this is the Masters. It's the most popular tournament in the United States, the first major of the year and for many sports fans, it's the real start of the golf season. With Woods out, ratings on television will be down, but they won't be crippled. Then again, the lowest Masters' rating came in 2012 when Woods finished in a tie for 40th, his worst finish at Augusta as a professional.

"It's a huge disappointment I feel for us in the business of TV," ESPN golf analyst Paul Azinger said on a conference call. "But it's still the Masters, and it's still this epic event. ... There's going to be a day when Tiger is just not around anymore, period. The shock, disappointment and the reason he's not here, I think it will present a little bit of a challenge, possibly at first, but once that tournament gets going, the Masters carries its own weight and everybody will be fine."

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Three things that popped into my head

1. Doesn't matter what Mike Williams does in Buffalo, the Bucs did the right thing trading him. His welcome here was worn out. The Bucs couldn't afford to see if he would clean up his act.

2. Instant replay in baseball is only a week old and I already hate it. It's slowing down what already has become a too-slow sport.

3. A bunch of LPGA players are upset because Paulina Gretzky, who is not a pro golfer but dates one (Dustin Johnson), is on the cover of Golf Digest wearing a sports bra and tight workout pants to go with a story about how to lower your golf score. You can understand their point. After all, only 11 women have made the cover of Golf Digest since 1969.


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