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Atta Bay, Way to Go

The great thing about having a scapegoat [1]is giving him up. Jason Bay, I hereby release you from all the blame for the Mets’ season having ended prematurely early two nights ago.

Unless, of course, it ends again before it’s supposed to and you seem responsible for facilitating the process.

But let’s not think like that. We’ve been thinking like that all week — all month, really, with the impetus to back it up. Let’s instead revel in the Jason Bay career rehabilitation plan:

1) Take hour upon hour [2] of additional batting practice.

2) Slam your face and assorted body parts into the business end of a chain link fence.

One outstanding catch, two hits and three ringing runs batted in later, the Mets are winners in L.A. [3] and Jason Bay’s bobblehead suddenly doesn’t seem quite as inane.

It was a good night all around, save for the air conditioner in my office here going on the fritz. Would I trade cool comfort for the Mets’ first win under the stars since July 6? Well, it appears I have. Never let it be said I wouldn’t schvitz for my team.

Enough about me and my sudden need to visit P.C. Richard. More about our outfielders who made, depending on your judgment calls, five or six really, really good catches Friday night. Bay’s, with his nose taking on a door handle, was the bravest. Pagan’s, where he lifted his right leg while sliding to avoid the cement under the padding along the right field side wall, may have been the smartest. Beltran giddying up and getting on his horse like he did pre-injury might very well prove the most important in the long run.

And there’s a long run ahead of us, believe it or not. One game does not reverse the results of the umpteen before it, but shovels have been known to work in reverse — they can be used to dig dirt off a presumed stiff if said stiff still has some life in it. The Mets are not a corpse, not when they have a lively left arm like Johan Santana’s and a beating heart we would not have suspected.

In the meantime, kudos to the following, as long as we’re all happy over our one-game winning streak:

• Caryn Rose for chronicling life on the West Coast with and without the Mets since the second half began. Read her travel dispatches and admire her ballpark photography at Metsgrrl here [4].

• Matt Artus of Always Amazin’ for his superb historical roundup on the paranoia our little old team caused a great big owner. Check out the clips and perspective here [5].

• Gary Smith of Sports Illustrated for a story about what a fan and a player accomplished together in the way of the NFL Hall of Fame. Check out their commitment to their cause and each other here [6].

• Chris Feeny for writing to Mets Police and reminding any and all of us who haven’t to buy our tickets to Mets Hall of Fame Day, August 1 for the inductions of Messrs. Cashen, Gooden, Johnson and Strawberry. Chris and I are among those who jumped on this event the day tickets went on sale because we didn’t want to get shut out. Read Chris’s convincing sales pitch here [7].

• The WFAN Mets production crew for being extra clever this year regarding the opening credits to its broadcasts. In past years we’d mostly hear a generally unsurprising montage of highlights before a given game: home run, nice play, strikeout, big hit, closer gets final out. Same thing over and over. But this year I’ve noticed actual attention paid to context. When the Mets played the Yankees, we heard a rollup consisting of great Subway Series moments. When the Mets visited Puerto Rico (worst trip ever…before this one), it was the Puerto Rican-born Mets whose highlights were in the spotlight. And Friday night, with the Mets needing a win very badly, we heard one dramatic 2010 PUT IT IN THE BOOKS! after another. Great, great job on a small, small detail. Note to the immortal Chris Majkowski: some of us are paying attention.

• Paul Lukas for really paying attention to Wayne Hagin and isn’t crazy about what he’s hearing. Life feels too short to promote “Fire Him!” campaigns, but as one who doesn’t stay with the radio any longer than I have to, I have to admit Paul makes a compelling case where Wayne’s limitations are concerned. I’ve reasoned for three seasons that Wayne Hagin is all right because he isn’t Tom McCarthy, but maybe the statute of limitations is running down on that particularly low-set bar. It’s Wayne’s job, but it’s our team, y’know? Decide for yourself here [8].

• And in memory of the great New York Giants fan Vic Ziegel [9], a little something that took my breath away regarding the greatest Giant of them all and one of the better Mets of our time, courtesy of the Times’s David Waldstein. Say Hey? Say David! Read here [10].