Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Mets know their next road game that counts will be at the Royals' Kauffman Stadium.
But they left the visiting clubhouse after Game 2 of the World Series Wednesday night not knowing whether that road game will be played on Tuesday or on April 4, when they are scheduled to open the 2016 season here.
It sure looked like the latter after the Royals' 7-1 victory, in which the Mets managed two hits against Johnny Cueto, giving them one run in their past 15 innings in the Fall Classic.VoteSwing or take: Mets and potential free agentsInteractiveMeet the 2016 Mets
How badly are things going for the Amazin's? This badly: The most widely praised New York baseball player in Kansas City this week was the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, a star TV analyst in the making for Fox.
[Speaking of which, if the Yankees pick up some of A-Rod's salary, might Fox be willing to trade for him? Hmm. The Yankees could use Harold Reynolds at second base.]
This is where sportswriters often try to convey the locker room mood, even though that mood is altered at big events such as the World Series by the fact players are vastly outnumbered by jostling journalists and cameras.
Not exactly a natural human environment. But one thing that did come through loudly and clearly among the players who spoke to reporters was a lack of answers to the old-school riddle that is the two-time American League champs.
Lucas Duda set what is believed to be a World Series record by saying four times in under two minutes that you just have to "tip your hat" in tribute to what the Royals have done to them.
Travis d'Arnaud felt similarly. "You have to tip the cap to them," he said.
So, no, the Mets were not sitting wordlessly by their lockers, staring dolefully into space and into the offseason. They were doing what baseball players usually do, which is analyze what went awry and start talking about the next game.
In this case, that meant grasping at the only obvious straw available to them: Citi Field.
Despite the dire circumstances, the stadium will host its first World Series game Friday, and it will be full and people will be excited -- initially, at least.
Even if the Mets come back to win the Series, they will be celebrating in that visiting clubhouse in Kansas City, not at home, where they also did not get to celebrate winning the NL East, the NLDS or the NLCS.
So their home fans won't see a championship won. But they deserve to see a game won.
"Our park, our house," captain David Wright said of the prospect of their first Citi Field appearance since Oct. 18.
Said Daniel Murphy, "I know the fans will be excited. We'll be excited to be at home."
Teams have come back from 2-0 World Series deficits before, although not lately. The 1996 Yankees were the last to do it. But the '85 Royals and '86 Mets accomplished the feat.
The latter did it after losing by one run on an unearned run in Game 1, then getting blown out in Game 2. Sounds familiar!
But to do it the Mets figure to need strong starts from two guys who began the year in Triple-A, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, who plans to commute to Game 4 from his childhood home in Stony Brook.
One persistent journalist kept asking Mets Wednesday night whether Game 3 is a "must win."
"Most of the games in the World Series seem pretty much must-win," Murphy said. But is this one more must-win than most? "I think we'd really like to win that ballgame at home," Murphy said, clearly [and justifiably] annoyed.
Hey, stranger things have happened. Like the fact the Mets are in the World Series in the first place.
"Nobody said it was going to be easy," Wilmer Flores said. "Nothing was easy this year."
Never more so than now.