Editor’s note: Neil Greenberg is not currently affiliated with RMNB and was not consulted for this article.
During Saturday’s game between the New York Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes, play-by-play announcer Howie Rose criticized Neil Greenberg’s list of the top 25 players under 25 for ESPN.com (paywall, but it’s worth it). That list does not include NYI’s John Tavares, who has a team-best 46 points in his third year in the NHL.
During the discussion, Rose calls Neil a “housebound agraphobe.” We can assume he means agoraphobe, since agraphobe is a made-up word that would mean “fear of farmland” or something. Rose runs standard operating procedure for character assassination of a blogger. Four-time Stanley Cup winner Butch Goring joins the routine and accuses Neil of being a provocateur. It’s a comprehensive ad hominem screed, except that they do not mention Neil by name at any point during the two-minute, telecast-padding exercise:
Howie Rose: I don’t know if you happened to see an article that was in a national online publication recently, but someone actually wrote that — there’s a list of 25 players among those under 25 in the National Hockey League. . . Can you believe that John Tavares was not on that list? Are you kidding me?
Now, think about that. We’re just talking about players under 25 and when [Neil Greenberg] was criticized for that he then came up with some kind of goofball numerical response. I don’t know who this housebound agraphobe [sic] is. I suggest he opens his shades — get a little light in there — and then watch the game and stop playing around with computers.
Open your eyes! You could make the case that John Tavares is among the best 25 players in the league. Period. Nevermind under 25 years of age. That’s just dumb.
Butch Goring: Well, I suggest the guy cover another sport because clearly he has no idea what this sport’s all about.
Howie Rose: I mean, that’s just stupid. There’s no other way to put it unless there’s some kind of personal agenda.
Butch Goring: Unless he just wants to be controversial.
Howie Rose: That’s why I’m not mentioning his name because I’m not going to give him that benefit. [awkward cross-talk]. . . As I said, open the window, get a little air, open the shades, get a little light.
Butch Goring: John Tavares is only very, very close to being in the top 10 in the scoring race, so top 25 doesn’t make any sense to me.
One other thing Rose doesn’t mention is Neil’s actual, stated reasons for leaving Tavares off the list, which basically comes down to crummy possession statistics and good teammates.
Obviously, Neil Greenberg was a RMNB team member for a few years before graduating to The Washington Post and ESPN Insider. His tweets and columns for WaPo’s Capitals Insider often stir up controversy because they tell us things we don’t want to hear about our team. But Neil’s projections are accurate, his analysis is sharp, and his intentions are honest. Like everyone else, he’s a fan– but that doesn’t preclude him from providing objective assessment. And not everyone likes objective assessment.
Personally, I don’t know if John Tavares should’ve been on the list or not, but I trust Neil and his work. And I’d urge the NYI broadcast team not to get into a battle of words with our friends, ’cause we run a blog that is basically the Dol Goldur of irrational and misplaced rage.
And it’s not too late to bury the hatchet anyway; Rose and Greenberg are both Mets fans. I’m picturing a reconciliation intermission segment during the next Isles game.
By the way, the New York Islanders won the game 2-1 in overtime. Both NYI goals came from Tavares. Heh.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland. H/T Islanders Point Blank.