Back in the day—and we're not just talking about the pre-television days—the sports columnists ruled the roost at your metro daily. Writers like Mike Lupica, Mitch Albom, Red Smith were must-reads. Now, even The New York Times is abandoning its columnists in favor of beat reporters who offer up-to-the-minute analysis, according to The New York Observer's John Koblin. And the Paper of Record is not alone in this trend. "That thoughtful, reflective, reported opinion that we used to see has basically vanished," Selena Roberts, a writer with Sports Illustrated and a Times columnist from 2002 to 2007, told the Observer. "This leaves the reader, especially since the reader is going to the Web for the analysts' point of view, with a shallower perspective of what's going on." The Times once had five columnists. Now, it has two, and George Vecsey, who is 70, is talking retirement.