This column was written just before Big Al left us to rub elbows with Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson and Ralph Kiner. The news of his passing was posted by one of his 15 yearold, brave twin boys, Jackson.
I write this with a heavy heart, at 5:49 this morning my dad passed away.
— Jackson (@bballtalk923) August 28, 2016
NEW YORK, NY – We hadn’t seen each other in two decades. But within minutes of reconnecting via Twitter and Facebook, we were once again fast friends and from May of 2013 until just recently, he was the deGrom to Angry Ward’s Syndergaard in our rotation. Just like when we were in college, we were back talking sports, ignoring responsibilities and making each other laugh in the guilty process. Like always, we’d greet one and other with our damned good renditions of legendary Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy. But as this is being written, I can’t help but wonder if Big Al Sternberg/Fake Sandy Alderson may have already left us. For all intents and purposes, my buddy – husband to Jennifer and father to teenage twins Jacob and Jackson – has lost his lightening-quick battle, having been cruelly cheated in the game of life by an unfair and unrelenting opponent… cancer.
So I am left here, fighting back tears, trying to come up with a clever way of honoring Al while not sucking the energy out of the room, as this is a destination we all come to for sports talk with a giggle. And Big Al was great at both. His alter ego, Fake Sandy Alderson (@AldersonFake) was all about that; hooking fans in by satirizing the GM of the Mets and sparing no sports personality from his irreverent rants.
But it was shtick. And good shtick at that.
But while Al would appreciate this tribute – or whatever you call writing about a brilliant and vibrant guy being dealt a tragically bad hand – he’d want us to do what we do best; to entertain – or in his case, shock. But this is clearly something that has me out of my depth, so I’ll ask you all to suspend reality and put me in the role of John Cleese and our pal Big Al in that of Graham Chapman.
For Al, I’ll type the word fuck and leave it be. That’s a first on this site. We don’t even let fuck fly in the comments. That’s twice now; once for Fake Sandy and one for Big Al.
My version of Cleese’s perfect piece, however, would have also cursed Al for making it impossible to graduate from SUNY at Buffalo in 4 years, because of the countless missed classes pondering trades for the Giants, Mets, Knicks and Rangers, while secretly plotting the demise of the Yankees and Isles. We didn’t care about the Jets – they were then as they are now – harmless interlopers. But truth be told, it was mostly Mets. Even in the dead of a Buffalo winter. We’d spend hours contemplating things like Dave Magadan putting on muscle, hopefully turning those line drives into homers… We’d go on and on about Lawrence Taylor and Patrick Ewing and Ron Greschner… well actually – Carol Alt. We’d also play way too much Wiffle Ball.
But that’s over now.
It’s beyond comprehension that I won’t hear Al do his, “Well, hi everybody!” in his Murph affectation. I can’t fathom not having to tweak (technology was his Achilles) the endless fountain of material from this prolific encyclopedia of a sports mind. I can’t get my head around not having to smooth out some of the feathers his Twitter persona may have ruffled. And of course, I can’t fathom him not calling out Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons for their crimes against Mets fans.
It makes no sense.
Indeed, there will be a huge void here but it’s nothing what Jennifer, Jacob and Jackson have been left to deal with… Take a moment and please read this.
But hey, we can’t leave this without some vintage Big Al/Fake Sandy. Have a listen.
I miss you, buddy. And just like that I’m crying again.
Al, this is just madness… But you will live on for a long, long time in those twin knuckleheads you and Jennifer brought into this world… they just better not miss any classes.
Let’s go Mets.