This Week In Hot Takes for Jan. 19-25.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes, this time breaking down all the hottest sports media takes from Jan. 19-25.

5. Kevin Skiver writes “Eagles fans are the absolute worst”: The start of the buildup to the Super Bowl often sees some TAKES on the fanbases of the teams involved, and CBS Sports’ Kevin Skiver perhaps led the way there this year. Any article titled “Eagles fans are the absolute worst, and here are 9 times they proved it” is a strong contender for this column based on that headline alone, and Skiver’s lives up to it.

The Eagle Faithful are so notorious that the city of Philadelphia was completely on edge leading up to Sunday’s NFC Championship. City workers covered poles in Crisco to keep fans from climbing them, and businesses were warned to be wary of riots if the Eagles won. Imagine being told that your safety can’t be guaranteed because your local team just went to the Super Bowl.

Detailing incidents of fanbase behavior is one thing, but going from there to “Eagles fans are the absolute worst” feels like a stretch. And citing a police warning to businesses (which only recommended locking up closed businesses and removing things outside and provided some guidance to bars on rule enforcement) as proof of a terrible fanbase is ridiculous, considering that moves like that aren’t all that uncommon ahead of big sports events. It’s notable that the game didn’t produce a riot, either, just a lot of celebratory fans. What about the many, many cases of actual sports riots? I’d rather argue “Fans of the Blues and Greens are the absolute worst,” but there probably isn’t much of a market for Byzantine Empire sports takes.

Rating: ???

4. Frank Isola tweets about Julie Ertz’ “dedication” for playing for the U.S. women’s team instead of…watching her husband? Isola, of The New York Daily News, took a whole lot of criticism for this take:

Isola tried to explain himself further, and didn’t exactly win the critics over:

Rating: ???

3. Harold Reynolds says Jim Thome got into the Hall of Fame because of kindness, not home runs, argues that ballot tracking is bad: MLB Network’s Reynolds has been known for some fiery takes over the years (remember the international incident over “Because there’s not a lot of people that grew up playing baseball in Canada, they’re not used to catching balls in the stands“, or his general description as “a personification of trying to drag baseball kicking and screaming back to the Stone Age”), and his latest came around Wednesday’s announcement that Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman were the newest Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. First, in an interview with Thome on MLBN, Reynolds somehow suggested that Thome received induction for his personality rather than his playing career:

Oh, and that was Reynolds’ first question to Thome, and saw him interrupt Thome before he was able to respond to some praise from former manager Charlie Manuel:

To say nothing of his bad nicknames:

Oh, and Reynolds has a problem with Ryan Thibodaux‘s excellent ballot tracking, somehow blaming it for former teammate Edgar Martinez not quite reaching the election threshold this year:

T.J. Cotterill of The Tacoma News-Tribune has more on Reynolds’ argument here:

“I’m disappointed for Edgar,” said his former teammate Harold Reynolds, who’s an analyst for MLB Network. He went on to push for the public voting to go away because he said it can give writers a false sense of security that a player might or might not get in.

Zach Buchanan had a good summary of Reynolds’ case:

And Chad Finn summed up Reynolds’ overall showing Wednesday:

Rating: ???

2. Matt Yglesias argues against “judicial grandstanding” in the Larry Nassar case, gets ratioed hard, deletes tweet: The sentencing hearing for former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar for sexual abuse of over 160 women saw some criticize judge Rosemarie Aquilina for comments to Nassar, including her rejection of his complaint that it was hard to listen to victims’ statements. One of the hottest takes on this came from Vox’s Matt Yglesias. He later deleted his tweet, but it’s preserved here:

Yglesias was far from the only one with a take like this, but his particular statement of it was one of the most objectionable, and brought him a lot of criticism, even after he recanted:

While there are plenty of differing opinions on the appropriateness of these particular comments, many have noted that this isn’t as unusual as you’d think in sentencing hearings, and there are numerous other cases where it appears far more problematic. There have also been some strong defense of Aquilina’s comments. In any case, we now all know that Yglesias values criticizing “judicial grandstanding.” Even if he later deletes his tweets about it.

Rating: ????

1. Stephen A. Smith calls viewers “idiots”…for treating something he reported as legitimate? Smith takes top place in this column for the second week running, and this time, it’s thanks to a performance that’s bizarre by even his standards. Smith appeared to report on Wednesday’s First Take that there might be a change in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ ownership, saying “What [Cavs owner] Dan Gilbert wants to do, from what I’m being told, is sell the team.” Other outlets picked that up and made it into a story, but ESPN curiously didn’t. And then on Thursday, Smith ranted against those who dared take him seriously, said that he didn’t say what he said, and said there was a lot of “I’m hearing this from LeBron James’ camp” context he didn’t provide initially. First, here’s the Wednesday clip:

“I’ll tell you the No. 1 reason why LeBron would never capitulate to anything that Dan Gilbert wants to do. Because what Dan Gilbert wants to do, from what I’m being told, is sell the team. But they’re more viable as a commodity if LeBron James is on your squad, as opposed to if LeBron James leaves. That’s one of the reasons that Dan Gilbert wanted him to commit to three to five years, because within that time span, you sell the team, you get money out the wazoo, and LeBron is left hanging.”

And here’s Smith’s unsuccessful attempt to walk it back Thursday, which included calling people “idiots” for taking his comments at face value:

“Well, first of all, I wanted to say to the folks out there that wanted to misinterpret, be idiots if you want to, I have no problem with it whatsoever, that’s why I have this platform, I have no problem calling you out. I happen to believe that I’m somebody that has a strong command of the English language, that I can articulate and elocute myself clearly. I did not say that ‘Dan Gilbert, oh my goodness, he’s going to trade him.’ What I said was is that LeBron James, I have been told, LeBron James is of the mindset that ‘Why should I sit up there and try and re-up for three to five years with this man when the man is going to try and probably sell the team after I sign up, because the team is far more valuable with me on it than with me off it.” That’s what I’m talking about!”

“So we don’t know whether or not Dan Gilbert is going to definitively sell the team. What I’m telling you is that part of the reason LeBron James wasn’t apt to re-up and commit for years to come, without any guilt or any apologist attitude whatsoever, is LeBron James is of the mentality, ‘That benefits you. How does that benefit me? I’m a businessman. I understand how this works to your benefit if I’m to re-up. But what if I were to re-up, then you could sit up there and sell the team, get a boatload of money.’ After all, you got teams being sold, the Clippers were sold for $2 billion for crying out loud. Imagine what the Cavaliers with LeBron James would be worth. Why should he do that unless it’s in his best interests? That’s what I explained.”

“It’s still possible that Gilbert may very well do that, because you do hear that from time to time, that he might think about selling, because this is a guy that wants to be in Michigan, that’s where most of his success emanates from, he wouldn’t mind owning the Pistons, et cetera, et cetera. But in the end, there’s no evidence out there that definitively states ‘Dan Gilbert is going to sell the Cavs.’ We don’t know that. I just know that I was told it’s one of the things that entered into LeBron James’ mind as to why should he commit in the long term to Cleveland.”

That’s a whole lot of word salad, and it includes the impressive feat of Smith not only trying to say he didn’t say what he said, but then throwing that speculation out there yet again (despite Gilbert’s denials and the reporting from elsewhere raising doubt about that possibility) as something he’s heard. It’s also perhaps the dumbest controversy from an ESPN non-report “report” from a pundit since Mike Greenberg and Andrew Luck, but at least Greenberg had the good sense to actually walk that back once it was refuted. Smith? He just keeps doubling down, and tying himself in knots in the process. But don’t worry, he’s still able to call everyone else idiots for believing him. And really, at this point, that might be a fair label for anyone who takes Stephen A. seriously. If he can’t stand by his own apparent reporting, or even remember that he said it, why should anyone else bother to listen to him?


Honorable mentions: “Made man” Tony Rizzo for getting mad at “that bastard down in Miami,” the aforementioned man in Miami for tossing out performance-enhancing drug speculation about Tom Brady, and Jason Smith for going in on LeBron.

Notable absences: Skip Bayless, Phil Mushnick, Colin Cowherd.

Hot Take Standings:

Stephen A. Smith – 177
Skip Bayless – 136
Phil Mushnick – 112
Colin Cowherd – 46
Shannon Sharpe – 35
Rob Parker – 26
Doug Gottlieb – 22
Charles Barkley – 19
JT The Brick – 17
Albert Breer – 16
Don Cherry – 15
Ray Lewis – 14
Bill Plaschke – 14
Rick Morrissey – 13
Jeremy Roenick – 10
Berry Tramel – 10
Kristine Leahy – 10
Chris Broussard – 10
Keith Olbermann – 9
Dan Dakich – 9
Ryen Russillo – 9
Garth Crooks – 9
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Frank Isola – 8
Michael Rapaport – 8
Tony Massarotti – 8
Jason McIntyre – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Pat Forde – 7
Danny Kanell – 7
Pat Leonard – 6
Mike Francesa – 6
Michael DeCourcy – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Kurtis Larson  – 5
Rod Watson  – 5
Dan Wolken – 5
Britt McHenry – 5
Chuck Modiano – 5
Joel Klatt – 5
Steve Buffery – 5
Joe Morgan – 5
Michael Felger – 5
Howard Eskin – 5
Nancy Armour – 5
Richard Justice – 5
John Middlekauff – 5
Ameer Hasan Loggins – 5
Jesse Watters – 5
John McGrath – 5
Ross Tucker – 5
Mike Sielski – 5
Gordon Monson – 5
Scott Fowler – 5
Bob Brookover – 5
Mike Bianchi – 5
Terry Frei – 5
David Jones – 5
Sabrina Parr – 5
Abbey Mastracco – 5
Terry Cushman – 5
Rob Rossi – 5
Rick Bozich – 5
Michael O’Doherty – 5
Simon Briggs – 5
Dan Wetzel – 5
Mike Parry – 5
Bob Ryan – 5
Robert Reed – 5
Pete Dougherty – 5
Dan Le Batard – 5
Marcus Hayes – 5
Kyle Turley – 5
Mike Ditka – 5
Erril Laborde – 5
Lowell Cohn – 5
Rosie DiManno – 5
Matt Yglesias – 4
Andy Benoit – 4
Bill Livingston – 4
Michael Irvin – 4
Shawn Windsor – 4
Brock Huard – 4
Byron Tau – 4
Maggie Gray – 4
Michael Powell – 4
Mark Spector – 4
Chad Forbes – 4
Gary Myers – 4
Mark Schlereth – 4
Andy Gray – 4
David Fleming – 4
The Sporting News – 4
Jeff Pearlman – 4
Tony Grossi – 4
FanSided – 4
Cris Carter – 4
Kirk Herbstreit – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
Mike Felger – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Kevin Skiver  – 3
David Bahnsen – 3
Harold Reynolds – 3
Kevin Reynolds – 3
Mike Sheahan – 3
Bob Ford – 3
Dan Shaughnessy – 3
Steve Greenberg – 3
Matt Burke – 3
Malcolm Gladwell – 3
Mike Milbury – 3
Mac Engel – 3
Nick Kypreos – 3
Jason Smith – 3
Caron Butler – 3
Don Brennan – 3
Robert Tychkowski – 3
Mike Johnston – 3
Jeff Mans – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
Bruce Jenkins – 2
Chris Wesseling – 2
Seth Greenberg – 2
Doug Smith – 2
Newsweek – 2
Teddy Cutler – 2
Will Cain – 2
Bill Cowher – 2
Paul Finebaum – 2
Charley Casserly – 2
Amin Elhassan – 2
Jim Henneman – 2
Mitch Lawrence – 2
Nick Wright – 2
Domonique Foxworth – 2
Gary Parrish – 2
Michael Farber – 2
Andy Furman – 2
Donovan McNabb – 2
Seth Davis – 2
Jon Heyman – 2
Jason La Canfora – 2
Booger McFarland – 2
Joe Schad – 2
Cork Gaines – 2

Thanks for reading! Tune in next week for more This Week In Hot Takes. As always, you can send submissions to me via e-mail or on Twitter.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.