Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes, back after a one-week vacation. This time around, we’re looking at the hottest sports takes from May 24-30.5. Bob Ryan calls WAR “pretentious nonsense”: While we’re past the Fire Joe Morgan era of columnists and broadcasters regularly criticizing advanced baseball statistics, there are still definitely some who hate any mention of the likes of wins above replacement. And Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe seems to fall into that camp, calling fWAR (Fangraphs’ version of WAR) “pretentious nonsense” in a tweet to Buster Olney:https://twitter.com/GlobeBobRyan/status/1133519798455930881Well, Bobby, that “pretentious nonsense” actually does a better job of tracking Bellinger’s overall contributions than traditional stats (what would you use for defense without it, fielding percentage?). But yeah, much of the world gives more of a $@/$&?@ about WAR than they do about Bob Ryan.Rating: 🔥🔥🔥4. Jack Todd says Drake “disrespects Toronto, the Raptors, and basketball itself,” people in Toronto “don’t know a pick-and-roll from a Tootsie Roll”: Speaking of crusty old white newspaper columnists, here’s Jack Todd’s Montreal Gazette piece claiming Drake is bad, with the modest headline of “Drake disrespects Toronto, the Raptors and basketball itself “:
Drake has succeeded in making the NBA playoffs all about Drake, even if he couldn’t dunk with flubber on his sneakers. Now, with his bottomless thirst for attention, Drake has a chance to take over the NBA final, and there is no indication that the Raptors or the league have the stomach to rein him in.Drake, with his antics, disrespects the city of Toronto, the Raptors, the game of basketball itself. Why? As we saw during his stint as perhaps the least funny host in the history of Saturday Night Live, he has none of that ability for gentle self-mockery necessary for comedy; if he were more self-aware, he wouldn’t act the way he does.Instead, Drake has already made himself a bigger fool than Spike Lee. Where Lee pulled his self-aggrandizing tactics from a corner of Madison Square Garden and Jack Nicholson contented himself with acerbic wisecracks from his seat at centre court, Drake behaves like a pampered toy poodle at a Doberman convention.…It’s a pity, because Drake’s clownish antics deflect attention from a very good Toronto team and especially from its star player, the self-effacing Leonard. This should be Leonard’s show, and instead it belongs to a delusional hip-hop star who only thinks he belongs in the NBA.
Old white men complaining about Drake is funny enough in its own right, but it gets even funnier when it’s taken to this level of “disrespecting basketball itself.” And it’s also pretty funny to see Todd discuss anyone else as “self-aggrandizing,” given his long and often unsuccessful history of trying to make himself seen as an important figure on the Montreal sports scene. And this isn’t new for Todd; let’s consider his string of comments on P.K. Subban, for example, which also included him saying Subban interviewing a teammate was him “needing to be the centre of attention.” The only person Todd wants as the center, or centre, of attention is himself. And he managed that Friday by reigniting the always-simmering Toronto-Montreal rivalry, saying many Toronto fans “don’t know a pick-and-roll from a Tootsie Roll”:https://twitter.com/jacktodd46/status/1134433179140526080Rating: 🔥🔥🔥3. Colin Cowherd says Baker Mayfield is proving his point by…engaging with his criticisms? The Colin Cowherd–Baker Mayfield feud is apparently never going to end, but a funny development in it this week saw Cowherd insisting that he wins just because Mayfield responds to his criticisms.https://twitter.com/FoxSportsRadio/status/1133790946594820102On one level, sure, we can debate how worthwhile it is for Mayfield to bother engaging with a troll like Cowherd, but this is a hilarious argument from Cowherd, right out of grade school. “You peed your pants!” “No, I didn’t!” “I made you look! I win!” Cowherd would undoubtedly prefer it if his continuing ridiculous remarks about Mayfield and the Browns went unchallenged, but failing that, he’s going to claim a win just for Mayfield responding to his takes. And that’s pretty silly.Rating: 🔥🔥🔥2. Doug Gottlieb calls R.J. Hampton’s decision to sign a deal in New Zealand without telling colleges recruiting him “classless” and “a real DB maneuever”: Gottlieb is known for his bad takes on college basketball, and boy, did he deliver one this week. This time, he bashed 18-year-old R.J. Hampton for signing a deal in New Zealand and not immediately informing the NCAA programs trying to recruit him (none of which he’d signed with) thanks to not being able to share that news officially. Gottlieb has since deleted his tweet on this, but here’s a screengrab via For The Win’s Andy Joseph:Hampton probably had reasons to not mention it until now, and he didn’t even commit to any particular college; Kansas, Memphis and Texas Tech had all made him offers, but none of those schools could say they were counting on him. But calling that “classless” and a “DB maneuver” (presumably a “douchebag maneuver”) is a hell of a line, especially from someone who wound up charged with felony theft over stealing teammates’ credit cards and gas cards while at Notre Dame, leading to his eventual departure from the school (and after he’d previously faced punishment for plagiarism). Now that’s a DB maneuver.Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥1. Stephen A. Smith blasts ESPN.com for running a story criticizing Magic Johnson, says “supposedly people have anxiety, I mean, stop the presses!”: It’s been a rough week for Smith, who’s been continually criticizing his own company’s journalism because his buddy Magic Johnson was a target of it. On Tuesday, after ESPN.com ran a heavily-reported piece from Baxter Holmes on the Lakers, featuring plenty of criticisms of Johnson’s interactions with employees (some of which led to them seeking treatment for anxiety) and his management decisions, Smith spent the whole day bashing that story himself before giving Johnson himself an unquestioned forum to bash it in the evening. Here are perhaps the most egregious of Smith’s takes on this, from his radio show (compiled by producer Ryan Cortes), where Smith talks about how unhappy he is that this was reported:https://twitter.com/Ryan_Cortes/status/1133430016220520448″I’m not happy about it one bit! I got BETTER THINGS to do with my damn time, BETTER THINGS to do! ESPN DOT COM decides to come out with a story ON THE DAY THAT MAGIC AND THE CREW ARE GOING TO BE HERE! Do I like the fact that I have to deal with it today? HELL NO! Go check it out on ESPN dot come. Obviously it’s very, very important, right, I mean, the cover of ESPN dot com, it’s a big deal, huge deal. Go ahead, look at it. ESPN dot com, LET’S MAKE SURE WE MENTION THAT. It’s RIGHT THERE, let’s make sure we mention that, ESPN DOT COM. It’s right there.””Go read the story. Supposedly people had anxiety, I mean, STOP THE PRESSES! STOP THE PRESSES! I mean, Magic Johnson was tyrannical as a boss, basically that’s what picture they’re trying to paint. MAGIC JOHNSON, with that smile that y’all see on television, all over, PERMEATING the airwaves, I mean, OH MY GOD, STOP THE PRESSES! MAGIC JOHNSON MIGHT HAVE BEEN A BIT HARDCORE AS A BUSINESSMAN, STOP THE PRESSES! OH MY GOD! WHO’S GOING TO CATCH A HEART ATTACK NEXT? Stop the presses! AND IT’S ACTUALLY NEWS TO Y’ALL THAT THIS MAN CAME IN THERE AND HAD AN ATTITUDE? REALLY? REALLY?””He had an attitude. He wasn’t pleasant to work for. That smile wasn’t always there. He was demanding and he wouldn’t tolerate mistakes. OH MY GOD, LET’S GET THE AXE! LET’S TAKE MAGIC JOHNSON TO THE GUILLOTINE! LET’S DO SOMETHING! OH MY GOD! THAT’S AN ISSUE? THE HELL Y’ALL TALKING ABOUT? Are you kidding me? I mean, stop the presses! Magic Johnson, he wasn’t smiling all the time, he was mean, he wasn’t pleasant. I mean, you got some article, some point in the story where they talk about “the anxiety. I had to quit. I couldn’t take it.” AND THAT’S WHY YOU’RE GONE!”There’s a whole lot going on there, from Smith trivializing the seriousness of the complaints against Johnson and trivializing a serious medical condition to him bashing his own company’s reporting and making it clear he’d rather they didn’t report on his friend. And this was only one of the times he dumped on this report; he did the same thing on First Take. https://twitter.com/stephenasmith/status/1133414760257601536And on that NBA preview special with Johnson, Smith and Michael Wilbon just sat there and let Johnson give his version of events with next to no pushback:https://twitter.com/WorldWideWob/status/1133511749800464384It says something about what ESPN prioritizes when they let someone like Smith just spout off takes about this about their own reporting without even really discussing the facts of the story. There’s room for a nuanced discussion of Holmes’ piece and what it does and doesn’t say (for example, Zach Lowe’s conversation with Holmes is a good example of that), but this isn’t it. And Smith’s utter disregard for actual reporting and trivializing of mental health issues is just ridiculous.But Smith is the highest-paid on-air talent at ESPN, and that shows that they value his hot air and hot takes much more than just about anything else. After all, Holmes was even in the same building as Smith, Wilbon and Johnson during that interview, but instead of putting him on air to defend his reporting and ask Johnson questions (Johnson declined to comment for the piece, only taking to ESPN later in an attempt to rebut it), they chose to go with the Johnson-enabling duo of Smith and Wilbon, and had Holmes just watch it on TV. And that says a whole lot about ESPN, none of it good.As Dan Patrick said, “You can’t just brush it off because you’re friends with Magic Johnson.” Except some of those on the TV side at ESPN apparently can. At any rate, though, this whole saga should be used as a rebuttal the next time Smith tries to claim he’s a journalist, something he throws out every once in a while when it’s convenient for him. This made him look like much more of a crisis PR manager for his buddy.Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥Honorable mention: Dan Shaughnessy claims Bill Buckner “never should have been defined by one play,” forgetting that he led the way on defining Buckner by that one play. (Especially in his Curse of the Bambino book, but also in print and on Twitter.)https://twitter.com/Dan_Shaughnessy/status/1133122305696182272https://twitter.com/davieyo/status/1133139595913248770https://twitter.com/timbrady90/status/1133411016463835136Hot Take Standings:Jason Whitlock – Hall of FameStephen A. Smith – 252Skip Bayless – 207Phil Mushnick – 186Colin Cowherd – 87Rob Parker – 59Doug Gottlieb – 57Shannon Sharpe – 38Don Cherry – 30Albert Breer – 29Dan Shaughnessy – 26Darren Rovell – 25Ray Lewis – 25Mike Francesa – 24Charles Barkley – 24Danny Kanell – 24Britt McHenry – 20JT The Brick – 20Andy Benoit – 18Dan Dakich – 18Chris Broussard – 17Michael DeCourcy – 16Jason McIntyre – 16Tony Massarotti – 15Ben Maller – 15Bill Plaschke – 14Keith Olbermann – 13Jason Smith – 13Kirk Herbstreit – 13Mike Felger – 13The Sporting News – 13Rick Morrissey – 13Michael Wilbon – 12Michael Rapaport – 11John Middlekauff – 11Steve Simmons – 10Christine Flowers – 10Jeff Schultz – 10Greg Gabriel – 10Rob Rossi – 10Bill James – 10Joe Simpson – 10Bob Brookover – 10Jeremy Roenick – 10Berry Tramel – 10Kristine Leahy – 10Max Kellerman – 9Graham Couch – 9Chris “Mad Dog” Russo – 9Ross Tucker – 9Ryen Russillo – 9Garth Crooks – 9C.J. Nitkowski – 9Jack Todd – 8Bob Ryan – 8Bob Ford – 8John Feinstein – 8Frank Isola – 8Bart Hubbuch – 8Will Cain – 7Howard Eskin – 7Trent Dilfer – 7Damien Cox – 7Mike Bianchi – 7Cris Carter – 7Pat Forde – 7Peter King – 6Charley Casserly – 6The Wall Street Journal – 6Pat Leonard – 6Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6Terry Bradshaw – 6Greg A. Bedard – 6Merril Hoge – 5Jonathan Allen – 5Dean Blevins – 5Tony Rizzo – 5Paul Sullivan – 5Dan Wolken – 5Dan Clark – 5Paul Daugherty – 5Michael Kay – 5Tom Jones – 5Mark Readings – 5Neil Warnock – 5Patrick Bet-David – 5Jared Stillman – 5Jen Rainwater – 5Matt Walsh – 5Jon Steinberg – 5Bill Welt – 5Aaron Murray – 5Chris Childers – 5Mark Knight – 5The Herald Sun – 5David Booth – 5Tom Nichols – 5Keith Hernandez – 5Bill O’Reilly – 5Brandel Chamblee – 5Michael McCarthy – 5Mike “The Reputation Doctor®” Paul – 5Dennis Dodd – 5Rich Lowry – 5Chris Reed – 5The San Diego Union-Tribune – 5David Hookstead – 5Tomm Looney – 5Alex Shaw – 5Rick Reilly – 5Randall Mell – 5Ian O’Connor – 5Michael Bamberger – 5Bob Bubka – 5Cathal Kelly – 5Pete Prisco – 5Bill Simons – 5Jason Lieser – 5John Steigerwald – 5Josh Peter – 5Alexi Lalas – 5John Moody – 5Marni Soupcoff – 5Ryan Rishaug – 5Kurtis Larson – 5Rod Watson – 5Chuck Modiano – 5Joel Klatt – 5Steve Buffery – 5Joe Morgan – 5Nancy Armour – 5Richard Justice – 5Ameer Hasan Loggins – 5Jesse Watters – 5John McGrath – 5Mike Sielski – 5Gordon Monson – 5Scott Fowler – 5Terry Frei – 5David Jones – 5Sabrina Parr – 5Abbey Mastracco – 5Terry Cushman – 5Rick Bozich – 5Michael O’Doherty – 5Simon Briggs – 5Dan Wetzel – 5Mike Parry – 5Robert Reed – 5Pete Dougherty – 5Dan Le Batard – 5Marcus Hayes – 5Kyle Turley – 5Mike Ditka – 5Erril Laborde – 5Lowell Cohn – 5Rosie DiManno – 5Adam Schein – 4Mike Florio – 4Randal Grichuk – 4Mike Schmidt – 4Mike Bell – 4Cody McDavis – 4The New York Times – 4Dan Crenshaw – 4Mike Vaccaro – 4Mike Klis – 4Richard Keys – 4Bruce Levine – 4Malcolm Gladwell – 4That’s Kappy – 4Mitchell Nathanson – 4The New York Daily News – 4“Big” Jim Murray – 4Jeff Diamond – 4Marc Berman – 4Evan Roberts – 4Corbin Smith – 4DJ Siddiqi – 4The Express – 4Mark Kiszla – 4Greg Witter – 4Myron Medcalf – 4Bill Polian – 4MJ Franklin – 4Alex Reimer – 4Joan Vennochi – 4Matt Yglesias – 4Bill Livingston – 4Michael Irvin – 4Shawn Windsor – 4Brock Huard – 4Byron Tau – 4Maggie Gray – 4Michael Powell – 4Mark Spector – 4Chad Forbes – 4Gary Myers – 4Mark Schlereth – 4Andy Gray – 4David Fleming – 4Jeff Pearlman – 4Tony Grossi – 4FanSided – 4Tony Kornheiser – 4USA Today – 4Nathan Ruiz – 4Dean Blandino – 3Gary Bettman – 3Chris Torello – 3Aaron Taylor – 3Undisputed producers – 3Pete Thamel – 3John Kincade – 3Brian Burke – 3Doug Russell – 3Carl Steward – 3Jerry Coleman – 3Jon Johnson – 3Trey Wingo – 3Lance Zierlein – 3Michael Salfino – 3Tom Van Riper – 3Andy Katz – 3Tony La Russa – 3Jim Brady – 3Bill Simmons – 3Mark Teixeira – 3Wally Hall – 3Damien Woody – 3Victor Cruz – 3Andrew Walker – 3Jim Kaat – 3Jason Gay – 3Steven J. Brams – 3Aaron Isaksen – 3Will Muschamp – 3Buck Lanford – 3Stan Fischler – 3Sonnie Wooden – 3Chris Jones – 3Kelly Smith – 3Reggie Miller – 3Mark Madden – 3Larry Brooks – 3Dan Canova – 3Steve Rosenbloom – 3Stephen Jackson – 3Mike Sando – 3Walt Borla – 3Nick Cafardo – 3Ice Cube – 3Justin Peters – 3Elise Finch – 3Kevin Skiver – 3David Bahnsen – 3Harold Reynolds – 3Kevin Reynolds – 3Mike Sheahan – 3Steve Greenberg – 3Matt Burke – 3Malcolm Gladwell – 3Mike Milbury – 3Mac Engel – 3Nick Kypreos – 3Caron Butler – 3Don Brennan – 3Robert Tychkowski – 3Mike Johnston – 3Jeff Mans – 3Joe Browne – 3Mike Harrington – 3Greg Mitchell – 3Michael Schmidt – 2Bob Nightengale – 2Pierre McGuire – 2The Palm Beach Post – 2Karl Ravech – 2Dari Nowkah – 2Ella Dorsey – 2The Hill – 2John Kindt – 2Bill Madden – 2Tony Gonzalez – 2Mike Greenberg – 2Grant Paulsen – 2Jeff Ermann – 2Ed Werder – 2Ben Mulroney – 2Ron Cook – 2Brian Kenny – 2Barrett Sallee – 2Craig Calcaterra – 2Gareth Wheeler – 2John Cornyn – 2Tony Dungy – 2Bruce Jenkins – 2Chris Wesseling – 2Seth Greenberg – 2Doug Smith – 2Newsweek – 2Teddy Cutler – 2Bill Cowher – 2Paul Finebaum – 2Amin Elhassan – 2Jim Henneman – 2Mitch Lawrence – 2Nick Wright – 2Domonique Foxworth – 2Gary Parrish – 2Michael Farber – 2Andy Furman – 2Donovan McNabb – 2Seth Davis – 2Jon Heyman – 2Jason La Canfora – 2Booger McFarland – 2Joe Schad – 2Cork Gaines – 2Thanks 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.