Friday, December 24, 2010

In which I rely on finely-aged 29-year-old Christmas cheese to express my gratitude and wish a Merry Christmas to the DD readership

So much early '80s awesomeness here. Google absolutely everything, DC!!!!

This blog has exceeded my expectations almost from the moment I began writing it in August 2008. I was shocked when one of the people to stumble across it in those early weeks was the person who inspired it, your good friend and mine Mike Litos.

I never thought I’d do anything more than wax nostalgic about the good ol’ days and deliver armchair observations of the current Dutchmen from my longtime seats, mostly because I figured a ranting and raving lunatic who spends all his time ignoring Hofstra’s real nickname would never be welcome to do anything else. Yet despite all my foibles, the powers that be at Hofstra grant me season credentials and access, for which I am eternally grateful, and act as if they like the sight of me, for which I think they should win an Academy Award.

I never thought there would be a way to broaden my audience via something called a Twitter, but there is, even if I spend half my time opining about non-Hofstra stuff like baseball and football and Scrubs and generally displaying a foul mouth. I never thought I’d find a bunch of like-minded people who think the best way to procrastinate is by discussing the CAA and coming up with Airplane! lines and John Waite songs that are relevant to the league, but what do you know, there are.

But I have never been as floored by the scope of the blog as I have been over the last two weeks, when friends met and unmet alike gave me a boost during what threatened to become the worst experience of my life.

When I got news 16 days ago that my Dad was being hospitalized in Connecticut after two days of rapidly declining health, I wrote those fellow procrastinators, because I had to share the news with someone after texting my wife and I didn’t know where else to turn. Within minutes, I received a phone call from Mo Cassara, who is an even better person than he is a coach. Cassara was in Binghamton getting ready for that night’s game. I asked what was up and he said he wanted to offer his best thoughts about my Dad.

“How did you know about that?” I asked.

“I’ve got my sources,” he said.

When my brother-in-law called me in the afternoon to tell me that my Dad’s brain scan revealed masses, I barely had the strength to do anything other than inform the fellow procrastinators, all of whom offered kindly thoughts and prayers. The next morning, after a fitful night of sleep, I woke up to a similarly themed text from Jack Hayes.

We got some great news two weeks ago yesterday, when further tests revealed that there were abscesses, not tumors, on my Dad’s brain and that he had meningitis. How often is THAT good news?

Over the next couple days, I received numerous supportive messages via a variety of mediums. And the first three people I saw at the Florida Atlantic game Dec. 11—director of ticket sales Mike Neely, Loyal Reader Jojogunne and Bitter Blogging Rival Gary Moore—all asked how my Dad was doing.

People have continued to express support and good wishes for my Dad, who is still in the hospital and will be there at least through the weekend. Never has spending Christmas afternoon at Hartford Hospital sounded so good. I went to the Flying Dutchwomen’s game against Hartford Wednesday, and afterward, coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey and point guard Nicole Capurso—whom I’d met a combined total of twice before this week—asked me how my Dad was doing.

I have long used my journalistic training as an excuse for my cynical nature and have allowed some tough personal and professional breaks over the last three years to further feed my pessimistic outlook on life, but the last couple weeks have been a much-needed reminder of the kindness that lies within the vast majority of the population.

I can’t tell you how much it means to me, or how inspiring it is, that people who know me solely through a byline or an online persona or a shared interest in Hofstra and/or mid-major basketball would take time out of their day to think good thoughts about my Dad, whom they don’t know at all. As Litos always says: We have it better. There is a community here that I could never come close to approximating covering Super Duper Big Baseball Team, as well as a basic human decency to those that I write about that the aforementioned SDBBT so often lacks.

I have long viewed the event that inspired me to start Defiantly Dutch—losing my job via email Feb. 27, 2008—as the first domino to fall in a sequence of events that forever changed my outlook on life. And that remains irrevocably true. But I had no idea 1,031 days ago that, in ways I couldn’t yet comprehend, losing my job would be one of the best things that could ever happen to me, as well. Thank you all for reminding me how much I have to be grateful this Christmas, and may this be a season in which all your holiday wishes come true. Including, of course, all those about the NCAA Tournament.

Email Jerry at or follow Defiantly Dutch at

1 comment:

Geoffrey said...

Hey Jerry,

Glad to hear that your dad is doing well... Merry Christmas!