Neil Best Newsday columnist Neil Best

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Monday brought a cold, hard slap of reality to Long Island sports fans - a Newsday back page on which the Mets were not the primary subject for the first time in 19 days, and a reminder there are other games in town.

Fear not, though.

They figure to be back Tuesday and for another week or so, unless the Giants trade Eli Manning to the Jets for Darrelle Revis in advance of the Nov. 3 NFL trade deadline. OK, maybe not even then.

The nice thing about all this for Mets fans is that their team is in a Yankees-free World Series for the first time in 29 years. The nice thing for those of us over 40 is that at last we have proof of what we have been telling younger fans who grew up in Jeter World:

That when the Mets are on a roll, as they were throughout the mid-to-late 1980s - and the late '60s and early '70s before that - they are fully capable of taking over this town.

And so it has come to pass again.

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There is no parallel in basketball or hockey, where the other area teams cannot match the fan bases of the Knicks and Rangers, no matter how good their teams are. (Even though any hockey fan of any persuasion had to appreciate the Islanders of the early 1980s.)

True, if the Jets ever match their former Shea Stadium co-tenants and reach the championship round, New York will go gaga over them, and their famously passionate fans rightly will get their own streak of back pages to frame.

But baseball is different, for historical reasons that might seem too far in the past to matter anymore and yet still do.

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The Jets did not exist until 1960, and there remain many families whose fandom took root in a Giants-only era and have retained those loyalties.

The Mets have since their founding in 1962 been the home team of old Giants and Dodgers fans who hated the Yankees and always would and thus welcomed the Mets and the National League back to town.

They passed that on to their children and grandchildren and now presumably great-grandchildren. Even if said great-grandchildren have never heard of Walter O'Malley or Horace Stoneham, the history is baked in.

If I did not have an appointment to see the Royals and Mets for World Series media day Monday afternoon, I would go back into the archives and count up the Mets back pages from 1985 and '86 and '88 and so on.

But it is not really necessary. Younger fans will have to trust me and my fellow old-timers that it happened. We lived it.

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Oh, wait. That's all over now. There is no need to tell dusty old tales anymore. It's happening again.

Make sure to soak this in, fans, in case you have to explain it all to a new generation three decades hence.