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.
Mostly, the Mets first baseman? Love him. How can you not like Ike? He’s even got his first hr of the season under his belt, he’s hitting well, and he’s dutifully minding first.
I know I’m not the only one who feels a stab of excitement when an item of Mets memorabilia like a banner or a ball cap pops onto the TV screen. One of us! It’s a fictional one of us! While experimenting with images for my new Tumblr I snagged these screenshots of two of our TV own.
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.
Meet Howard! He’s running for Mets General Manager! Make sure to peruse his website, MegdalforGM.com, and take a gander at Pick Me Up Some Mets’s exclusive Q & A interview below. I’ve spent time with Howard, and I can attest that he’s dedicated to channeling his immense passion for our team–along with his significant baseball smarts–into a future position as the first fans’ GM of the New York Mets.
Pick Me Up Some Mets is pleased to offer Howard its endorsement, and someday I hope to say “I know Howard Megdal. Howard Megdal’s a friend of mine. You’re no Howard Megdal.”
But let Howard tell you more…
Should Howard Megdal Be the Next Mets GM?online surveys
Howard needs your vote! But more importantly, Howard cares about your vote.
Q: Why run for a position that’s not open to election?
A: A better question: when we spend three hours a day, 162 times a year in a single pursuit- rooting for the Mets- not to mention the hours we read about them, talk about them, agonize over them- why shouldn’t we try to take control of the franchise that holds sway over our emotions?
Q: Other than being a lifelong fan, what are your qualifications to be GM of the NY Mets?
have written about the Mets for most of my adult life, in venues
ranging from SNY.tv to ESPN.com to New York Baseball Digest to New York
Mets Inside Pitch, and many others. Professionally, how I’d run the Mets
has been an open book. And I have the knowledge of the players
throughout baseball, the history of both the team and the sport at
large, that I can bring to bear upon this organization through three
simple pillars: LOGIC, TRANSPARENCY and PASSION.
Q: What’s the next step, after the primaries–what will you be doing with your results?
A: If I am fortunate enough to receive a mandate from the Mets fans- and in seven primaries, I have been the winner of that mandate, in often-overwhelming fashion- I will give an acceptance speech, and invite the fans who put me in such a fortunate position to help take the next step- securing a job interview for the position of General Manager.
Q: Tell me something concrete and not “politiciany” about what you’d change on the current team or hope to add to a future Mets team?
A: There’s so much to choose from, but simply put: the Mets would not sign players to expensive, long-term contracts who weren’t in their prime years. Signing Jason Bay last year means the Mets don’t have a place to sign Carl Crawford this offseason. And the difference in skill level, age and fit on this team could scarcely be greater.
Q: How important is it to consider the ballpark when putting together a team?
A: Only to a certain extent. Remember: the Rockies were supposed to be unable to develop pitchers, since they’d all get destroyed at Coors Field. Conventional Wisdom, meet Ubaldo Jimenez. There isn’t a single star player I can think of who would somehow be disqualified by Citi Field. And I love this ballpark, right down to the pitchers’ advantage- which is far smaller than advertised, incidentally.
Q: How far are you willing to go to realize your dream of being the Mets GM?
A: Well, I’m taking the time to vigorously campaign for the job, and will do everything in my power to secure an audience with the Wilpons to press my case. Ultimately, what I wish for this team is the kind of management that allows me to go with my wife and daughter, with my parents, with my friends to Citi Field and not feel frustration over what can be easily fixed. I don’t believe the Mets can win every year- I do believe much more can be done to make victory likelier, and for the fans to feel like honored guests when they come through the turnstiles. So I’ll never stop campaigning for those basic principles.
Thanks to Howard, and I’m sure he’ll agree with me when I say Let’s Go Mets!
(No really, bats, let’s go. Runs, let’s go. August, please, let’s go!)
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.
And so did Howard and I to watch the Mets’ Single A team, the Cyclones, on Thursday. Howard Megdal, that is, who continues his campaign to be elected Mets General Manager over at Megdal for GM. But he’s also sticking to his day job, writing about baseball, which is what brought us to Coney Island on Angel Pagan Day and Wally Backman Jersey Day (I just missed the last jersey!) and Kevin Burkhardt and Bobby Ojeda Day.
Howard cares about the farm system. And about animals. And mascots.
Our Kevin Burkhardt was rocking the play-by-play for SNY that night. KB remains, in everyone’s estimation who has met him or worked with him–just the nicest, lowest ego guy ever. And since I was over there sayin’ hi, I couldn’t help but introduce myself to Bobby O and ask for a pic. Ojeda was perfectly genial and happy to comply.
Just to cap off the SNY-related tribute, notice the brand spanking new ’10 GKR design I’ve got on, available here. The Mets-friendly blue and longer length make for a sweet and chic homage to Gary Keith and Ron.
The Cyclones would dominate all game long, but the highlight of the evening for me was seeing Angel Pagan watch his Cyclones jersey number being retired. On his off-day, he was in Coney Island with us, throwing out first pitch and receiving what his expression told us he considered a great honor.
Howard was at the ballpark that day to interview Cory Vaughn, Mets 2010 draft pick, whom he seemed quite impressed by. I didn’t get my Backman jersey, but I got a pic of Wally being all managerial, and pics of Sandy the Seagull and the Cyclones cheerleaders and those racing hot dogs and Kyle Superbueno Peterson, the juggling unicycler.
It’s just plain hard not to have fun at a minor league game. With Howard as company, it was even better. Check out Howard’s latest campaign ad, in which he shamefully pimps out his ridiculously adorable baby daughter for votes. Now if that isn’t a politician, I don’t know what is!