Mets outfielder Matt den Dekker had time to kill on Sunday. He had been called up for his first major league start of the season the previous day from the Triple-A affiliate. He no sooner arrived to join the team in Philadelphia then he was told he’d be returning to the 51s. Reportedly unable to catch the game on TV in his hotel (what kind of fleabag hotel did the Mets put him up in in Philly, anyhow??!!) he went out to check out the Liberty Bell and Center City environs prior to his evening flight back to Vegas. Good thing for the Mets that his return trip was cancelled. Let’s just say, he made the most of his time in Philly…and I don’t even know if he was a contributor to the new cheese-steak-eating contest numbers.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so the saying goes. I know I personally am beside myself for the return of baseball to Citi Field. However, my wandering eyes have been smitten by, gulp, basketball.
I’ve written a blog post comparing the success of the Wichita State Shockers to a successful orchestra. You can read it here:
I was there.
I WAS THERE!
But, through the immediacy of social media, there were others not at Citi Field tonight who were there with me nonetheless.
Yes, I was one of the lucky Mets fans to experience live tonight–from the front row of the Excelsior Level, right behind Home Plate–the first no-hitter in the history of the Mets franchise, pitched by Johan Santana.
But, as the number of zeroes on the scoreboard began to climb, so did the anxiety and the trepidation. The angst was palpable: I saw it in my daughter’s and my husband’s faces; I saw it six seats down from me in the intense concentration on the face of WFAN’s Evan Roberts as well as in the death grip he held on the railing in front of him.
But I also “heard” it loud and clear in the voices fairly shouting on Twitter and Facebook.
I try to put my phone away during game-time, for the most part. I find that I miss too much of what’s going on in front of me if I don’t.
But with collective jitters permeating the atmosphere tonight, the distraction of my smart phone proved to be just the bit of short-term electronically-produced Xanax needed –at least while the Mets were at bat from about the sixth inning forward. (Did anyone else think that the bottom of the eighth inning set yet another franchise record for the LONGEST half-inning EVER?!)
Checking Twitter and Facebook late in the game when Johann was not on the mound, I was surprised to see a thread of comments inspired by a single tweet by fellow Mets blogger Greg Prince, of Faith and Fear in Flushing fame, in which he compared the spectacle we were all witnessing–in the ballpark, home, and elsewhere–to the grand spectacle that is opera.
I couldn’t have agreed more with the analogy. Truly, this evening’s event–with the pitcher in question having taken well over an entire season off for possibly career-ending surgery–was a story writ large. A gran scena.
For stellar moments in sports history as well as those in the arena of musical performance, the crowd simply cannot contain itself. “Jo- han! Jo- han!” or “Bravi! Bravi!”: the intensity and the passion are one and the same. And the thrill of having shared that athlete’s/musician’s professional milestone is something to cherish and to be retold–in the dramatic and theatrical manner appropriate to the occasion.
What comes to your mind when Jose Reyes…
- …hits one of his signature triples?
- …steals yet another base?
- …flashes that infectious smile?
- …has yet another multi-hit game?
The first thing you probably think–as I do–is, “We HAVE to SIGN HIM!!“
But sometimes, watching Jose in action reminds me of another exciting performer.
In the world of opera.
He seemed like a mensch.
I wish I could tell you more about him, but I only met him five days ago.
And now he’s gone.
Dana Brand was a professor at Hofstra University, an avid Mets fan and blogger, an author of two books on the Mets, a husband and father.
In the relatively small subset of Mets fans that is the blogging community, he was a collaborator with and supporter of many and a mentor to all.
As much as I loved reading his writing, it was even more of a delight to speak with him face to face on Saturday night.
My family and I, along with dozens of other Mets fans, were at Foley’s Sports Bar in Manhattan Saturday night for a charity event sponsored by the foundation of SNY-TV announcers Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling.
As much fun as it was to see the likes of Cohen and Darling tending bar and having them each pour a drink for me, the true highlight of the evening for me was the fact that I left that intimate gathering of like-minded people feeling that I had made a new friend: having recognized Dana from photos on his blog, I tentatively introduced myself. I needn’t have shown such temerity: he enthusiastically greeted me by name and told me how much he enjoyed reading my blog posts–a real compliment coming from someone with his literary credentials!
After introducing him to my family, the four of us talked about everything from the special relationships that can develop between fathers and daughters, the operas he had seen at the MET, as well as my daughter’s experiences in the MET Children’s Chorus. Clearly, he was interested in getting to know us better personally.
When the subject did turn to the Mets, he excitedly told us of a special event he was planning in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Mets franchise to be held at Hofstra University. Dana seemed just as interested in sharing mutual remembrances of Mets history brought up by my husband Garry–a Mets fan from the team’s beginning and of Dana’s same generation. Garry enjoyed having the opportunity to tell Dana personally how much he had enjoyed reading both of his books.
I sensed Dana was appreciative of the favorable comments about his work. But Dana seemed to take particular delight when Garry turned to our daughter Melanie and, while pointing to Dana, informed Melanie, “This guy was THERE for Agee’s home run. He SAW it!!”
It was with obvious pride that Dana later introduced us to his lively, charming daughter and sister. As much passion and zeal as he obviously had for his team, it was very clear what a devoted and proud father he was as well.
Before we left Foley’s that night, we exchanged contact info with Dana, promising to meet up at Citi Field at a game in the near future.
It truly felt like we had met a real kindred spirit, and all of us agreed that we were so glad that we had made his acquaintance.
Dana passed away suddenly yesterday afternoon. I learned this early this afternoon through a Mets blog. Within a matter of hours, the sad news passed through the Twitter community and has resulted in countless other blog posts in honor of Dana. Word had obviously made its way to the SNY TV booth at Wrigley Field in Chicago as, watching this afternoon’s game on TV, we heard Gary Cohen make a brief tribute, mentioning Dana’s passing and what a devoted fan, blogger, and author he was.
In reading these blog posts, it is clear to me that I missed a real opportunity not having made Dana’s acquaintance sooner. He was obviously a person who had been a positive influence in many, many lives.
My family and I wish to add our condolences to Dana’s family and friends.
A recent New York Times sports article inspires the retelling of a story from opera.
How to best describe Game 162 at Citi Field yesterday?
tion, along with his wife.