As for Milstead — one of five Rocky stars whose hiring by the Post was encouraged in these pages — he likely lost his chance for a new gig by pissing off Singleton; the paper couldn't really bring him aboard after its parent company publicly denounced him the previous month, no matter how talented he is. Baseball Hall of Famer Tracy Ringolsby was also left on the sidelines, probably due to a numbers game. But the Post wisely signed up the other three staffers on our list — metro columnist Mike Littwin, sports columnist Dave Krieger and ace reporter Lynn Bartels — shortly after bouncing six high-paid supervisors, including managing editor Gary Clark, in a move akin to an NFL franchise clearing cap space to sign coveted free agents.

In addition, the Post also inked seven other Rocky longtimers, including two more metro columnists, Tina Griego and Bill Johnson. Given Johnson's history of notable screwups — including a 1999 profile of an apocryphal Internet character, a 2005 piece about a death-threatening anti-abortion protester whose existence he couldn't prove, a 2006 offering in which he wrote about something he'd seen on TV as if he'd witnessed it in person, and a 2007 column that required five separate corrections — it's amazing that he was never sacked at the Rocky, let alone that the Post picked up his option. Then again, the Post's columnist spree is surprising in and of itself. Back in 2002, Moore was looking to reduce the number of columnists at the paper, declaring that a focus on opinion gives papers "a decided lack of urgency," which he saw as "a recipe for not having a compelling product." Now he's got four metro columnists, including the Post's Susan Greene — a huge number to juggle even if all of them manage to keep their egos in check.

Thus far, the Rocky expatriates have received ultra-prominent play. Johnson's predictably wet-eyed piece about a high-school basketball player with a spinal disorder landed on the February 28 front page, and Littwin and Griego columns ran in prominent page-two slots on succeeding days in lieu of contributions from Greene and Porter, who were entirely absent from the new-look Post through March 3. As usual, the highlight of the paper was its sports coverage, which gravitated to the cover on several entirely justified occasions; a scoop about misbegotten trade talks involving Broncos QB Jay Cutler was especially juicy. But the papers as a whole have been better than average thus far: more energetic, as if the Post has something to prove.

Not that the Post is the reincarnation of Muhammad Ali yet. Just because the paper has christened itself the Greatest doesn't mean Rocky subscribers will keep buying it.

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