New York Sportswriters Missing Forest Through the Trees

Dallas Stars' brat-bully Sean Avery calls his ex-starlets -- now dating other NHL-ers -- "sloppy seconds," and his team, the league, the sports pages, sports talk radio and the civilized world rages for days and days with in-depth "analysis."

Here's what's missing: The New York Rangers who dumped the miscreant Avery in the offseason are in first place in the Atlantic Division with the most wins in the NHL. The Stars, with Avery, are in last place in the Pacific Division. (The Rangers also lost their big "star" Jaromir Jagr to the Russia leagues, but somehow they're playing better without him. Imagine that.)

The Knicks -- the laughing stock, the abyss of the NBA -- got a new coach who cleaned house and courageously, in a principled manner benched the team's top malingerer, Stephon Marbury. For years, Knicks fans and Knicks writers piled on about how Marbury was a team cancer, how me made every team he goes worse not better. And they were right. But come the start of this new season, with this new coach who did with Marbury what should've been done a long time ago - what the writers had been begging the Knicks to do -- all the writers can obsess about is what will the team do about poor, isolated Marbury. Here's what's missing: The Knicks - totally without Marbury -- are playing the best basketball they've played in several long years.

New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, a great talent who has been disruptive and distracting to his team all season long, moronically shoots himself in the leg at a night club. Today, you can't talk sports in New York without hearing about this.

Here's what's missing: The Giants have dominated the NFL. They're 11-2, winning most of their games sans the self-centered Burress. Their loss to Philadelphia last week was not because of Burress but because in the NFL it's hard to win every week, even as good as the Giants are - and they're very good. In fact, they've been winning all season without they're two top pass rushers from last year, Osi Umeinyora and Michael Strahan. How?

When will sportswriters return to writing about the actual sports they cover? Doesn't anybody want to know how D'Antoni's system is making the Knicks, as depleted as they are, play much improved basketball beating Eastern Conference power Detroit last night? Or would that require a basketball writer to actually analyze the game of basketball?

It is not miraculous to me that the Giants won the Super Bowl last year with brooding superstar Jeremy Shockey on the sidelines or retired All-Pro, All-Me running back Tiki Barber hurling insults from the broadcast booth. It's logical.

The game -- the sport -- is bigger than any one player. The game is also more interesting. The sports industry has been selling so much off-the-field garbage for so long, that it forgets to sell the thing that really matters. Individual players come and go. We won't and we don't miss them. It's the game that we come back to.

For an entire year, Michael Vick dominated the news. Two seasons later, Matt Ryan is leading the same Falcons to winning record, a possible playoff appearance and likely Rookie of the Year honors. How is he doing it? How are the Vick-less Falcons, a team just a short time ago so invested in one player's persona, playing so well without that one player? I wish someone would write more about that.

In the meantime, I point you to the most intelligent, football-(the game itself, not all the other crap)-centered suggestion to come along in few years. It's from Mike Lombardi of the National Football Post: He asks football writers to cast their NFL MVP votes for the five New York Giants offensive lineman. It's a great idea. You might say revolutionary. But it what it would require is even more revolutionary: Football writers focusing on football.