Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.
CHICAGO -- There are many very good reasons for Suffolk County's own Steven Matz to beat the Cubs in Game 4 of the NLCS Wednesday night.
They include but are not limited to these:
Advancing is the object of the game, and it requires four victories. The Mets have only three so far.
Winning it in four would move Matt Harvey's next start from Thursday to next week, preserving the tenuous peace among the Mets, Scott Boras and Harvey's right elbow.
A Mets victory would cause an amusing ripple in the space-time continuum, what with this being "Back to the Future Part II Day," when the Cubs were supposed to be sweeping a championship series, not getting swept in one.
But here is a bonus on top of all of the above, the icing on a Big Apple pie in the face to the poor Cubbies:
A strong, closeout performance by the Mets' Matz would further demoralize the rest of Major League Baseball and elevate the growing reputation of the Mets' young pitching staff from excellent to historically ridonkulous.
Harvey won the NL East clincher against the Reds because, well, of course he did. Jacob deGrom won the NLDS clincher against the Dodgers because, well, who else?
This is Matz's turn to join the party and make the leap from a promising 24-year-old phenom with a lesser resume than his buddies to a fully accredited member of the club.
Can he do it? Of course he can. He was 4-0 in the regular season and pitched creditably in Game 4 of the NLDS in a game the Mets lost to an on-his-game Clayton Kershaw. No shame in that.
Now he will be asked to go a solid five or six or maybe even seven innings, hand over the ball to what has been a reliable bullpen and then turn his attention to the many questions that could arise here late Wednesday night.
For example: Will the Mets require snorkeling equipment to avoid drowning in champagne in a visitors' clubhouse so small it's a wonder Babe Ruth fit into it for the 1932 World Series?
And, speaking of champagne-related questions, do the 1908 Cubs make like the '72 Dolphins and pop a cork every time the modern Cubbies get eliminated, thus preserving their legacy?
Back to Matz. He seems like an imperturbable sort, and family members are en route to support the young lefty from Stony Brook and Ward Melville High School in person.
Plus there is relatively little pressure on him, compared to say, Cubs starter Jason Hammel, who only has 107 years of fan frustration to deal with and is on his fifth team in a meandering major league career.
So here we are, on the doorstep of Mets history. Which means inevitably linking this postseason to others.
Like this: Fans of a certain age might recall the 1969 NLCS, when the winner in the Mets' sweep-clinching victory over the Braves was a talented 22-year-old hurler who at the time was not at or near the top of a famously good young rotation.
His name was Nolan Ryan.