Tony Tommasini, possibly confused after too much partying to celebrate his survivor status in a vastly downsized department, ignores the obvious answer in a baffling comment re: the Muti/CSO thing:
And Mr. Muti would have been all wrong for New York. I, for one, could not be more hopeful about Mr. Gilbert’s potential. But I thought that the Philharmonic players all would have shared my enthusiasm.
Now, the quite evident answer to the mystery that leaves Tony Tommy baffled, ie the reason why the NYPhil don't seem to share TT's unabashed enthusiasm for Gilbert may be, quite simply, that... Gilbert may not be as good a conductor as Muti.
Let us be clear here: OC likes Gilberto, and she thinks that he'll do just fine, and anyway he's got his back covered because all the New York critics are totally in the tank for him and he'll certainly commission a lot of new stuff that'll spread jobs and much-needed benjis among a lot of otherwise underemployed people.
But there is indeed a list of the Big Five when it comes to conductors, too -- the list of the top five conductors in the world.
Opera Chic's, strictly in alphabetical order is this:
(your list may be slightly different, but in all seriousness not that different: maybe you can replace Pappano with Barenboim or Jansons with Haitink, but Claudio, Jimbo & Riccardo solidly belong in that list).
The fact Tommasini chooses to ignore is that Gilbert, however interesting and refreshing a choice, cannot be reasonably included in that Big Five list, by all means. Muti can. And indeed he is in very many people's Big Five list -- including, one suspects, a lot of CSO musicians'.