I got the call about a week and a half ago, when the days were blurred together by a fever that had me bed-ridden and a flu that would take two weeks to beat. I could barely talk or think, but Lynn Cohen (of GaryKeithandRon.com) was calling to tell me that Dana Brand had suddenly passed away. Dana – whom we’d just seen the Saturday before at a joyous (despite the Mets loss) GKR event, flanked by his smiling family. In fact it was Dana who email-introduced me to Lynn back in 2008. He had a way of bringing Mets fans together – of bridging the faceless voids between urls to gather avid, vocal blogging fans face-to-face.
The first time I met Dana in person he was doing just that – summoning Mets bloggers, the kind of fans he wrote about and considered his brethren, to celebrate the launch of his book, Mets Fan. That was September, 2007 (an eternity ago in blogger-time) and I urge you to read about the event in Dana’s own words here.
But the memory I’ll hold most dear of Dana was the day I got to see what a wonderful father he was. Almost exactly a year ago, June 10th 2010, Lynn got a bunch of last minute tickets in Citi Field’s Bridge Terrace. Never heard of the Bridge Terrace? I hadn’t either, but I’d seen the seats – little green cafe tables directly above the Mets bullpen, in front of the Shea Bridge. I arrived solo, planning to watch the game pretty much on my own, enjoying the sun and Johan Santana on the mound for the first game of a double-header.
But then I saw Dana sitting with his lovely daughter Sonia, and they waved me on over. I hesitated internally – I didn’t want to interrupt daddy-daughter time, but Dana and Sonia could not have made me feel like less of an imposition. Dana was so open that way. If you knew him at all you could understand why he literally wrote the book – Dana loved talking to Mets fans, about Mets fans, and about Mets baseball. And so as the game went to pot pretty quickly – it was not a good day for Johan – Dana, Sonia, and I mostly kibbitzed. Before the game, we peered over the side of the bullpen at the birds-eye view of Henry Blanco’s tattooed arms catching Johan’s warm-up pitches. We marveled over the sound of the ball hitting the mitt. I heard about Sonia’s college life, saw Dana proudly nodding. I heard a bit about Sonia’s new boyfriend Pete and noticed the gleam in her eye when she talked about him.
And then Lynn came on by holding something magical. Two tickets to the 2nd game of the double-header. These past few post-collapsalypse years the words “magical” and “Mets tickets” haven’t been used together all that often, but these were 2nd row seats. Behind the Mets dugout. Almost on the dang field itself. Lynn said, “These seats have to go to someone who’ll appreciate them.” That someone was obviously Dana.
But Dana didn’t hesitate. He even managed to hide what might have been personal disappointment. He just said, “Oh, we can’t. Sonia has to get home to Skype with her new boyfriend.” Dana was going to give up 2nd-row dugout seats…so that his daughter could talk long distance on a computer with her boyfriend. Because that’s what she wanted, and he wanted what she wanted.
But, no. That was so not going to happen.
I don’t remember exactly what I said to Sonia, but it was along the lines of, “Girl, you can talk to your man anytime. Look at these seats!” I could see her getting excited about them. The kind of seats non-corporate Mets fans usually only get to dream about. And I’m so glad I had even a little part in convincing Sonia to delay her Skype chat with Pete, because the game that night was amazing. Jon Niese’s one-hitter. We were all gabbing about it the next day. Dana wrote about the whole experience, the day game and the night game in the seats, here.
Knowing that Dana and Sonia had that night together, at a place that may not have been Shea but was still pretty special, to watch one of the greatest Mets games in recent years, and in those seats, warms my heart. To know that they won’t again breaks it. But I imagine that night was just one lovely memory in an overflowing treasure trove of them.
Dana was a great writer, a die-hard Mets fan, and a special guy. We will miss him, and he won’t soon be forgotten.
If you’d like to participate in a memorial at Citi Field for Dana on July 16th, please click here. I’ll be in Florida for my grandfather’s 90th birthday, but I’ll be sending lots of loving thoughts back to Flushing.
Despite the unfortunate outcome of Friday’s rubber game against the Marlins, I loved hearing Kevin Burkhardt’s insight about what goes into Mets third base coach Chip Hale’s preparation for both team defense and base running.
Saturday evening found me on the 7 train off to watch the Mets play the Phils, an uneven match up of Misch vs. Halladay, when I received a text from awesome WPIX field correspondent and Pick Me Up Some Mets friend Debra Alfarone.
There are a million reasons to love RA Dickey, arguably the Mets’ biggest happy surprise of 2010. You might think the latest reason was his dazzling 8+ inning shut-out against the validly strong Cardinals, but in fact, the very latest “I Love Dickey” moment came after the game, in the dugout talking to Kevin Burkhardt.
- Get Danny Meyer to ship Shake Shake burgers and Blue Smoke ribs with the team. The aroma of Citi’s delicious food will transport the players–like Proust’s madeleine–back to their happy place.
- Use television magic to make the team think they’re in Citi. Turn the outfield wall of any away ballpark into a giant green screen to project more outfield, just like home. Then, surprise! Extra home runs for you.
- Fancy up away locker rooms. Send a design team ahead to install as many amenities as possible so the team feels as perk-heavy as they do in their own clubhouse.
- Bring beat down cars and auto parts to sprinkle around visiting parks so the team thinks it’s entering right at Willets Point.
- Send the team on the road with a truck full of Queens water. Use the water in away toilets, showers, water fountains. Clearly it has magic powers.
- Hypnosis. Convince the boys they never left the comforts of Citi. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. Now cluck like a chicken.
I’m often told by readers that when they read my blog they always leave in a better mood than when they came. Well hey, that’s what I aim for. And considering last night’s excruciating 13-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, I think it’s time for some happy Mets distractions.
1) Ike Davis on Mets Weekly. Pick Me Up Some Mets friend Julie Alexandria continues to give Mets fans delightful, charming, and informative player interviews this season. My favorite so far has been with Ike Davis. He says of his father, Ron Davis, “The best thing he’s ever told me was like, hey, I don’t care if you
play baseball. I’m gonna love you no matter what, you’re my son. But if
you’re gonna play baseball, you better give it all you have while you’re
playing it. And if you don’t want to play, just quit, and I won’t think
anything different.” How can you not give a little “awww.”
Afterward, an interview with Ron Davis himself continues to make the former big league reliever seem like a great dad. At Yankee Stadium for the subway series, Julie asks “What’s it like for you to be here today?” And Ron Davis replies about his son, “Just to come out and watch him play, I don’t care who he plays against, just to get to watch him play, that’s all I care about.”
2) How ’bout that All-Star game? No, no, not what’s come after it during the West Coast road trip, but the game itself, with the National League’s first win since 1996, and our David Wright putting his stamp on the game with an impressive two hits and a stolen base. David knows the fans went out of our way to give him a push late in the voting, and how could he better show us his appreciation? Our boy keeps making us proud.
3) Look at my cute baseball dress that I wore in honor of the All-Star game. This garment began as an XXL Gary Keith and Ron t-shirt honoring Ron Darling, (donated by the delightful Lynn Cohen), until I brought it to the skillful, creative hands of AuH2O’s Kate Goldwater. Based on the designs featured on her website, I chose a neckline and length, and she turned my GKR tee into a sexy little halter dress. Don’t hesitate to contact Kate should you have any t-shirts or dresses you’d like remade into new t-shirts and dresses. She’s fab!
4) Finally, I’ll leave you with this quote from our own Gary Cohen, which came in the later innings of last night’s unfortunate blow out. “The Yankees are entitled to all their fans, but it takes great character to be a Met fan.”
You and me, kids. Tons of character.
At some point before the 2010 season began, Johan Santana stepped on a street gypsy’s talisman and broke it. The gypsy got angry. And thus his curse began.
During Johan’s every start this year, somewhere in the vicinity a greasy man with long hair–and a suspicious resemblance to Mad Men‘s Don Draper–would pop up blowing his saxophone. The cursed music distracted our Johan, causing his velocity to dip or prodding him to tip his pitches. But more, it bedazzled the Mets batters too, freezing run production and leaving Johan to flounder runless through his innings.
No one could deny the predicament: Sergio was branching out past the boardroom and into the ballpark.
Thankfully, it appears Johan has mended the broken sacred talisman. He’s hung it above his bed, and we have evidence already that the fix is working. Not only has Johan returned to prime form on the mound, but he’s even found power at the plate. Sergio has left the building. And instead of giving up home runs, Santana’s knocking ’em out.
Keep the talisman safe, Johan. Protect it from harm and kiss it every evening before bed. For its curse is also ours, and we must never again invoke that gypsy vengeance.