Perhaps the cosmic forces could handle only so much suck for one Sunday. It was gloomy outside. It was gloomier on TV. The Mets were one out from being swept out of Citi Field by the last people you’d ever want to let near a broom. Jose Reyes was, for all we knew, playing phantom catch with David Wright, Ike Davis, Johan Santana, Taylor Buchholz, Chris Young, the ghost of Kelvim Escobar, the glute of R.A. Dickey and whoever at Amazon is responsible for not letting this blog be read on Kindle despite selling subscriptions to it. And our last hope was Jason Bay…or as I’ve come to know him across the past 15 months, no hope at all.
My default vision of Jason Bay was up to date clear through the bottom of the seventh when he effortlessly grounded into a 6-4-3 rally-dulling double play, or as baseball experts call it, “a Jason Bay”. Given most of Bay’s lack of output since he mistakenly wandered into the Caesars Club in January 2010 and was too polite to turn around before trying on a Mets jersey and boarding a plane to St. Lucie, my instinct was to totally and completely give up.
Technically, my instinct was to hurl some sort of venomous invective (is there any other kind?) at the screen as prelude to however Bay planned to make the final out versus Mariano Rivera, The Greatest Closer Who Ever Lived, and I think I even began to call him one four-letter word or another when I stopped myself midcurse. I reminded myself that Jason Bay hit a grand slam earlier this week. I also reminded myself that as much as I haven’t been able to stand Jason Bay’s results, I really have nothing against the guy — sort of like I have nothing against Jason Bay’s home and native land. Canada seems like a nice place, just as Bay seems like a nice guy. I don’t know that I’d trust my well-being to either in the clutch, but how do you get, let alone stay mad at either Canada or Jason Bay?
And since the two of them are intertwined in my mind, I did the only relatively positive thing I could do with any conviction as Bay represented our last hope: I hummed “O Canada”.
I hummed it without pause for the entirety of Bay’s ninth-inning at-bat versus The Greatest Closer Who Ever Lived. I hummed it starting with ball one and kept it up through foul strike one, ball two, ball three and swinging strike two. I’m sure I was off key and I may have invented a bridge that wasn’t there when Robert Stanley Weir massaged the original French lyrics into English 103 years ago. Perhaps because today is July 3, nestled between Canada Day and our own Independence Day, something about the humming of “O Canada” on Long Island for British Columbian Jason Bay in Queens connected with those cosmic forces whom had been so unkind to us all weekend long. As I reached the final “we stand on guard for thee!” Bay took ball four from Rivera.
Humming patriotically worked for Bay, so I couldn’t stop there. Lucas Duda was up. Lucas Duda’s a Californian, so “O Canada” gave way to “The Star Spangled Banner”. Of course it did. I kept humming, and so did the previously dormant Met offense. Duda singled on the second pitch he saw. Bay sprinted to third.
God bless America!
Actually, I went with “America the Beautiful”. I heard the Ray Charles version Saturday night. I didn’t let pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino being from the Dominican Republic get in the way of my humming. I don’t know the Dominican national anthem and, besides, Ronny’s been an American hero since the night they drove Bin Laden down. He’s Mr. Sunday Night, besides. Got five hits in Philadelphia two months ago on that Sunday night. This game was getting on toward evening, too. When it comes to Sunday nights, Ronny Paulino’s practically Ed Sullivan. I started humming “America the Beautiful,” and Ronny Paulino delivered a most beautiful base hit right here in America, bringing home Bay with the tying run, all off Rivera, The Greatest Closer Who Ever Lived.
Talk about a really big show.
Ruben Tejada was up next. He’s from Panama, as is Rivera. That’s a wash (though I wouldn’t recommend doing any wash near Rivera’s pool). Anyway, I think I was on to “Battle Hymn of the Republic” — only humming, not saying a word — when Ruben’s ground ball completely fooled the one Yankee shortstop we have the ability to confound. True, Ramiro Peña’s E-6 didn’t net us a run, but it felt very good. Better yet, we were en route to extra innings.
No humming while the Mets were in the field. When they returned to batting in the bottom of the tenth, I kept reaching for anything that fit the theme: “Pink Houses”; “American Pie”; “Stars and Stripes Forever”…whatever I could think of that was more or less in the U.S.A. ballpark (without resorting to Lee Greenwood). Finally, the order was turned and it was Jason Bay’s time to stand on guard again: bases loaded, two out, tie game.
I don’t attend hockey games and have yet to see the Blue Jays at Citi Field, thus I haven’t had opportunity to rise and remove my cap for “O Canada” since October 3, 2004, the last time the Montreal Expos came to Shea Stadium (or anywhere). I’ll always associate that anthem with that franchise…but now I have someone else and something else with whom to share it. For wherever North Americans keep ninth and tenth innings humming along glorious and free until unwanted invaders can be vanquished and dispatched with timely base hits — none more timely than Bay’s single to center that scored Scott Hairston with the winning run in the final match of this most recent Subway Series — that is where “O Canada” will stand eternally for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Or something like that.
Jason Bay got a game-winning hit in the tenth inning. Reyes got an undiscouraging diagnosis in the morning. Dickey got to use words like “enlighten,” “community” and “rejoice” for reporters and probably won’t miss any time. The Yankees and their minions got of our sight. Interleague play got off our schedule finally. And we got back to .500.
May your Fourth of July hum as happily I did on the Third.