Mets fans, like any other group, can’t really be classified. Yankee fans are often labeled as “entitled”, but we all know Yankee fans that inherited the team from a parent, an older brother, who lived through Horace Clarke or Hensley Muelens.
And Mets fans aren’t all like Dana Brand, a wonderful man who died yesterday afternoon, much too soon, at age 56. Mets fans aren’t always looking for happiness in the face of often unrelenting bad news. Mets fans aren’t always so thankful for the great plays and able to provide humorous perspective on the no-so-great plays. Mets fans don’t always have a proper sense of historical perspective, or the ability to make literature of baseball seasons.
In other words, Dana Brand wasn’t typical of Mets fans. That’s only fair; those who had the privilege of knowing him better than I did can verify that he wasn’t typical of men, either.
He’s just how I pictured the ideal Mets fan. A learned man with proper appreciation of baseball and family. Someone who provided a roadmap of a life to aspire to- writing and studying words for a living, outwardly appreciating his family in every available moment. A product of a Brooklyn Dodgers upbringing who embraced Mets history so completely that he’d created a symposium on the subject, which is scheduled for 2012.
I’m sitting here with my worn copy of Mets Fan, Dana’s remarkable book on the study of our particular plight. As I’ve told his daughter, Sonia, I bought it the night I met Dana, in November of 2007. And I kept it in my car, actually- it helped me get through an offseason. Dana understood this difficulty. He wrote of the offseason: “It’s as if someone you know has disappeared.”
And maybe that’s why I can’t quite process the idea that he’s gone. Dana’s like baseball, right? Voices like that have to return after a little while. They don’t disappear permanently. They show up when the weather starts to warm again.
It was comforting, even this week, to read his thoughts about the Mets. In an April 28 post to his blog, he wrote about believing in his team, even after the 5-13 start.
“Wouldn’t it be great if the people who dumped on them in the press when they were 5-13 were to not merely say that the Mets have surprised them. Wouldn’t it be great if they admitted that they were foolish to bury the Mets on the basis of one-tenth of the season, that they were craven and cynical, making a story that wasn’t a story because they had to try to sell newspapers?”
Now we know that Fred Wilpon was one of these people, disparaging all the wrong Mets on the very night the team dropped to 5-13. We’re supposed to be okay with this because it somehow proves he loves the Mets.
But Dana loved the Mets the right way. He loved them intelligently, optimistically and unreservedly. If current ownership loved the Mets like Dana Brand did, the Mets would be in a far better position than they are.
So I intend to honor Dana’s life this weekend the way he lived it. I’ll be attending a Mets game with my family, and enjoy it whether they win or lose. I’ll be re-reading his work, and reading it to my daughter. I’ll call my father to talk about the team. I’ll write about the Mets. I’ll think about the Mets.
In short, I’ll find the happiness in how Dana lived, rather than simply dwelling on the idea that I won’t get to hear his perspective on the continuing difficulties concerning the franchise we both love, or that I won’t get to hear him next month at the Tappan Public Library, where he was scheduled to read.
I like to think that by doing so, I am following the example he set. I only wish I could provide comfort to those who knew him better, and will feel this loss even more acutely.