Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.
It has come down to this, citizens of Metsville: Harvey to deGrom to Syndergaard.
No, it does not have quite the ring to it as Tinkers to Evers to Chance, but if they pull this off, there will be ample time to figure out the poetic meter after the parade.
The Mets are in deep trouble, as no one can deny after NLCS MVP and SI cover model Daniel Murphy committed a cataclysmic error in Game 4 of the World Series, making him merely the biggest in a herd of goats.
But unlike most teams trailing three games to one, in this case with the World’s Most Pesky Team in the opposite dugout, the Mets have three aces in the hole.
We have been writing, talking and hearing about these guys for many months now, how they could be the core of a long-term contender and all that.
That might or might not turn out to be the case, given the vagaries of pitching elbows and free agency.
All that matters right now is right now, and right now the young Mets arms could have one more chance each to put a stamp on this already memorable season.
That was one of many topics David Wright addressed in a captaincy tour de force as he stood at his locker for a very long time talking to reporters after the Game 4 loss Saturday night.
“If you get those three guys, the way they’re capable of throwing the ball, although we are down and we are in a hole you’ve got to feel good with those three guys on the hill,” he said.
“[Harvey] has been excellent this year and it seems like when he has a below-average Matt Harvey start he comes back the next start a lot better. He’s seen this lineup, he’s seen what they’re all about and I know he’s one of the best at making adjustments. So I’m sure he’s going to go in with a good game plan and go pitch like Matt Harvey can pitch.
“I think when you look at our backs against the wall and you have these three guys in your corner, again, it’s not the position we want to be in, but it’s a position where knowing that if we can take it one game at a time and Matt goes and does his thing then we get a little bit of momentum on our side.
“We’ve got Jake on the mound the next day coming off kind of a below-average Jacob deGrom start. Again, those guys just seem to feed off of if they have a start that is atypical for them they just come back that much better.
“So we get it done [Sunday], get a little momentum, the tide kind of shifts in our favor and we’ll see what happens in KC.”
These are the sorts of things athletes must say in these situations, of course, especially captains. But in this case there is a ring of truth to it.
Yes, Harvey and DeGrom seem to be running on fumes as the calendar hits November, and even the hulking Noah (Thor) Syndergaard rarely goes more than six innings.
But each one has the ability to come up with a gem at any moment, and it has to help that they now have a better sense of how the Royals operate.
Now they can cement their collective legacy forevermore with one more victory apiece.
“We’ve got Matt going, so I think we’re excited about that,” Murphy said of Game 5. “I think we just have to put ourselves in another position to win a ballgame and hopefully we make the plays, starting with me.”
Murphy was waiting at his locker for reporters to enter the clubhouse. He spoke to a wave of cameras, followed by a wave of writers. While he erred on the field, he aced his accountability test.
Wright repeatedly sought to absolve Murphy of full responsibility for the loss, and in fairness, he did have company. That includes Terry Collins, who went from being a genius for his insistence on sticking with Michael Conforto – who homered twice – to a dunce for going with Tyler Clippard rather than Jeurys Familia to start the eighth inning.
That’s baseball, Suzyn.
“It’s just baseball,” Wright said. “It’s the beautiful thing about it and kind of the ugly thing about it. In the span of five minutes, 10 minutes you completely change the momentum of a game.
“That’s kind of what makes this thing so beautiful is one inning you can look absolutely horrible and then the next inning completely redeem yourself and go up there get a big hit or make a big play or make a big pitch.”
Or in the case of Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard, about 300 big pitches.
“We’re in a tough situation, but we’re not dead yet,” Collins said. “We’ve got our three guys that we’ve turned to. Seems like each and every time we’ve had a big series, those are the three guys that we run out there.”
Having all three of them come through would be the stuff of baseball poetry.