Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – No sane Mets fan is in a panic after one loss to the defending World Series champion Royals, a 4-3 contest Sunday night that ended with the tying run at third base and all of Kansas City pondering a burnt end.
It would be an insult to your baseball intelligence to even point out that it is a long, long season and that somehow in the past, teams have recovered from losing the first of 162.
Teams such as the 1998 Yankees, who started 0-3 and were 1-4 after an 8-0 loss to the Mariners. They went 124-46 thereafter.
Or the 1969 Mets, who lost their opener, then were 2-5 and 3-7.
And many other championship teams that I am too tired to google after a late night at the ballyard.
Still, though . . .
The Opening Night stumble, in which the Mets helpfully handed writers convenient comparisons to last year’s World Series, was a cold slap in the face that reminded everyone that baseball is played on grass and not in season preview stories.
Might as well start right at home: Of Newsday’s six baseball prognosticators, five picked the Mets to win the National League East, four to win the pennant and three to win the World Series.
None of which I would bet against if Mrs. Best allowed me to gamble the college fund on sports events.
But that’s baseball, Suzyn, and stuff happens in a sport of ceaseless ups and downs, and in which teams that lose 50 times in the regular season are considered among the all-time greats.
You know, stuff such as the prized reacquisition of the offseason, Yoenis Cespedes, dropping a fly ball in the first inning, leading to an unearned run, then grudgingly giving reporters terse answers in Spanish that barely needed translation.
And Matt Harvey being merely adequate. And David Wright looking much closer to his number retirement ceremony than his prime.
And the pesky Royals doing their thing again, making the Mets and their fans give thanks that after Tuesday they are out of their hair until late June at Citi Field. The Yankees can deal with them in May. Good luck with that!
So, there are legitimate concerns, as there are for every team. Those concerns are the same on Monday morning as they were on Sunday afternoon.
The Mets could crash or they could soar, but given their talent they most likely will spend the next several months hovering among the National League contenders, then try to get on a timely roll like they did last year.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There will be many exciting nights ahead, perhaps starting here Tuesday when the Mets send — ho, hum — another young, supremely talented pitcher to the mound in Noah Syndergaard.
Mr. Syndergaard and the Royals have a bit of a recent history. Could be fun! And the Mets could well win, which would make them 1-1.
Just like last year!
The last time they started 2-0 was in 2013. They finished 74-88.