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An Extraordinary Life

Mike SteffanosSunday, June 5, 2011
By Mike Steffanos

As many of you already know, Mets author and blogger Dana Brand passed away unexpectedly on May 25. I shared a few thoughts on what a privilege it was to get to know Dana a little here.

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend the public memorial service for Dana at the Meeting house in Newtown, CT. Dana's family chose to make it a celebration of his life, and they pulled that off quite wonderfully.

I was born a Catholic of mostly Italian ancestry, but I've never subscribed to a morbid fascination with death and mourning like so many of my heritage. I was so impressed with how Dana's family and friends were able to honor him in such a positive way while still sharing their sense of loss at his passing.

Dana was a man of many gifts and accomplishments who still managed to find the time and energy to deeply connect with his family and his many friends. It seems to me that his life, while too short, was remarkably well lived.

Dana was a brilliant man with a big personality. Many described him as larger than life. I have found that people that warrant that description tend to fall into two categories: one group is narcissistic and tends to dominate those around them; while the other group is genuinely caring, a source of strength for others that make the lives they touch better. Dana clearly fell into that second group.

As we get older, we constantly reevaluate our own definition of success. I think to be able to touch as many lives as Dana did in such a positive way is the greatest accomplishment of all. I'm proud to have known him for a while.

Among the speakers at the service, Greg Prince was chosen to represent those of us from the blogging community. He did a great job, and shares some of his speech here.

I understand that people come to this blog to read about the Mets -- not extended eulogies or endless ponderings by me on the meaning of life. It seems fitting to get back to the true purpose of this blog with this observation on the difference between Mets and Yankees fans from Dana's essay Mets Fan:

Yankees fans have their myth: The Yankees are invincible, the team of Ruth and Gehrig, the only team for whom a season is not a success if it yields only a pennant, for whom a bad season is an anomaly. The myth is a crock, of course. The Yanks have had plenty of mediocre seasons in the last 40 years.

The Mets' myth is the reverse. Mets fans tend to think of the Mets as a fundamentally bad team that, every once in a while, briefly and magnificently rises up to play against type. When the Mets win, the fans feel as if they themselves have willed the team forward. We were the ones, with our slogans and signs, who took a last-place team to a pennant in 1973. We were the ones who drove Mookie Wilson's ball between Bill Buckner's legs in 1986. We were responsible for Al Leiter's perfection in the one-game playoff against the Reds in 1999. And we made Shea Stadium thunder in 2000, frightening the superior Cards and Giants into submission.

Yankees fans do not feel responsible for what the Yankees do. But Mets fans feel that they create the atmosphere that allows miracles to happen. Mets fans live to be a part of miracles. And fans who live for miracles don't need the odds on their side. Mets fans don't need or even ask for triumph. They want astonished fun, and the mystical sense of power that a Yankees fan can't know. They want the pleasure of the unexpected, even of the undeserved.

This is what has hooked us. This is what we long for. This is why, however much we hate them at times, we love to love this team. However good the Yankees become, they never tempt us. We are stubborn and resolute. We are millions. We are Mets fans.

If you're not already a huge Dana Brand fan, I encourage you to get to him better by checking out his web site. You'll also find information about his two books, Mets Fan and The Last Days of Shea. You'll also find some sample essays from the books and a link to his blog.

If you are just finding this blog again and wondering why I was gone for so long and what the plan is going forward, read this.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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