Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes, looking at the hottest sports media takes from May 5 through May 11. After absences last week, some of the usual suspects returned with a vengeance this week, but there were a few new faces on the scene as well. And they combined to deliver some of the hottest takes we’ve seen, and leave many piping hot takes just outside in the honorable mentions section. Let’s get to it.
5. The Sporting News rips Jay Cutler, again, because…he didn’t do interviews at a charity golf event: For whatever reason, The Sporting News seems to really have it in for new Fox broadcaster Jay Cutler. Media columnist Michael McCarthy ran a piece last Friday (with the headline of “Jay Cutler will be lucky if TV viewers like him, let alone love him“) presenting an anonymous competing TV executive ripping Cutler in full anonymous scout style (intermixed with McCarthy’s own criticisms of Cutler as a player), and that wasn’t even their hottest take of the week on Cutler. That one came Wednesday when, for some reason, the publication decided to give former NFL general manager Jeff Diamond a platform to trash Cutler in a column titled “Jay Cutler hire by Fox Sports is an affront to football fans.” The best part? Beyond a few lame comments about “I know too many coaches and players who did not like working with him,” Diamond’s primary argument is that Cutler didn’t give enough interviews at a charity golf event he was running:
Say it ain’t so, Fox Sports. Jay Cutler? Come on.
This is just a late April Fools’ joke on your NFL audience, right? You can’t be serious about hiring such a dour, arrogant, unfriendly, unlikable, underachieving former player to be a color analyst on one of your top broadcast teams.
The most anti-media, anti-fan player the NFL has seen in years is now coming into our living rooms and sports bars via grim hi-def.
…I also had a negative experience with Cutler a couple years ago.
My close friend and longtime NFL assistant coach Mike Heimerdinger passed away from cancer in 2011. His family holds an annual charity golf tournament in Nashville in his honor.
Dinger, as he was known, was a longtime Titans offensive coordinator. He also had been Cutler’s quarterback coach in Denver in 2007, so Cutler was invited to play as a celebrity in the tournament a few years ago.
I have helped the family with PR and media relations for the tournament. One of my duties the year Cutler came was to help set up media interviews with the celebs.
Now, it was nice that Cutler wanted to support the Heimerdinger family and the benefiting charity. But it wasn’t a huge imposition since he’s a Vanderbilt grad. He often returns to Nashville.
There was a dinner and reception the night before the tournament with sponsors and golfers who paid to participate. I did not see Cutler in attendance. Then prior to the start of the tournament, media folks interviewed the celebs, all of whom were nice and cooperative, except for … guess who.
Cutler was nowhere to be found.
Mike Shanahan, Jeff Fisher, Brandon Marshall and many former Titans players talked about Dinger and how happy they were to support the event. They mingled with the sponsors and golfers.
As more media requests came in for Cutler, I searched the area and found him essentially hiding in the parking lot. When I told him there were several media requests to interview him, he gruffly said doing interviews was not part of the deal. I told Cutler he could steer the interviews toward Dinger and away from football talk. He reluctantly did one TV interview before he again disappeared until tee time.
Cutler’s behavior that day was unprofessional, but based on his reputation, I should not have been surprised.
The irony now is he will be working in the media business, likely with some of the same people he treated so poorly over the years.
Seriously? You’re going to use a story like that from a charity golf tournament, one where it’s far from clear if Cutler actually agreed to interviews ahead of time or if you sprung that on him at the last second, as evidence that he won’t be a good broadcaster? This is one more piece that fits in to the lazy classifications of Cutler Tim Baffoe eloquently argued against (funny, considering that many of them seem to involve the idea that Cutler is somehow lazy, something disputed by many of his coaches and teammates). And while we could ring Diamond up for this hot take individual, this one goes on The Sporting News as a whole given both their previous Cutler coverage from McCarthy and their decision to run this as a freelance piece. What even went into that? “Former NFL GM mad about a perceived slight from Cutler years ago? Right this way!” At least this one wasn’t anonymous, I guess.
- FanDuel’s Andrew Moore talks how Kentucky Derby ‘transcends racing,’ and how they’re covering it
- Lindsay Czarniak talks ‘Lunch with Lindsay’ podcast: ‘I’m really interested in getting to the core of what makes us all human.’
- WAVE TV’s Kendrick Haskins previews the Kentucky Derby and tells us how he wound up in a Jack Harlow music video
- Suns/Mercury owner Mat Ishbia says ‘no one is surprised’ by Diamond lawsuit to try to stop broadcast deal
Angels: INF Kaleb Cowart, OF Mike Trout
Angels general manager Billy Eppler, a former Yankees’ assistant GM, likes to tell people, “You don’t trade superstar players,” so this one might be an even harder sell, but it’s still tempting to think of the Millville Meteor coming back close to home. Especially when you consider just how badly the Angels need starting pitching with Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs both out for the next few months.
The Angels are not trading the reigning AL MVP, a 25-year-old five-time all-star who has already won two MVP titles, is under a very reasonable contract through 2020, and produced 9.4 wins above replacement last year (and 2 WAR so far this year) as per Fangraphs, for the 28-year-old Harvey, a one-time all-star with no other notable awards (beyond NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2015) who produced 2 WAR last year (yes, Trout’s already done as much this year as Harvey did in a full season last year), has a -0.2 WAR so far this year (so he’s performing worse than your average callup), and has a list of injury and behavior concerns. No matter where Trout is from.
3. Stephen A. Smith says James Harden looked like “somebody might have slipped something into his drink”: Houston Rockets’ guard James Harden’s play in Game Six against the San Antonio Spurs Thursday drew plenty of criticism, and deservedly so. But Smith, as per his wont, went way, way over the top, saying “somebody might have slipped something into his drink“:
“I think there needs to be an investigation to be quite honest with you. He looked like he was drugged out there for crying out loud. Literally comatose. I don’t know who the hell that was playing for the Houston Rockets, but it wasn’t the James Harden that I’ve been watching all year. … That dude did not show up for the Houston Rockets tonight. He looked absolutely awful, abysmal, just literally comatose. He didn’t show up.
…“Somebody might have slipped something into his drink. Somebody might have done something to him. I have no clue. But that is not James Harden that showed up for the Houston Rockets tonight. Somebody with his jersey showed up. It wasn’t him. I cannot believe what I saw.”
First, that’s a pretty cavalier analogy about the serious issue of roofies, but beyond that, calling for an investigation and saying Harden looked like he was drugged and appeared “literally comatose” (if he was literally comatose, he would not have been moving, Stephen A.; I believe you mean figuratively, and also, you’re no Chris Traeger) is pretty insane. It’s not quite as insane as the unnamed NBA executive who texted ESPN’s Chris Haynes “Has an NBA player ever been investigated for point shaving?”, but it’s up there. Harden had a horrible game; that’s beyond dispute. But saying he was drugged and comatose and demanding an investigation is one hell of a hot take.
2. Sabrina Parr says Jabrill Peppers is “high out of his mind” and “on the lean and the molly”: We go from suggestions of drug use to actual flat-out accusations of drug use. One of the most bizarrely unhinged things we’ve ever heard came from ESPN 850 in Cleveland Wednesday, where contributor Sabrina Parr spent much of an hour talking about how Browns’ first-round draft pick Jabrill Peppers is “on the lean” (a mix of promethazine with codeine, Sprite and Jolly Rancher candy) and “the molly” (MDMA, or ecstasy) and “high out of his mind”, with the only apparent evidence for her case being a diluted sample Peppers provided at the NFL combine. Some highlights:
“I’m talking about Peppers, and why he’s not going to make it, because he’s on the lean. And the molly.”
…”How are you already high out of your mind when you’ve been here for a week?”
…“Have you ever had to take a drug test? Have you ever had to be there and piss in the cup?”
…“We’re not talking about all the kids! We’re talking about Peppers! And he’s not going to make it because he’s on the lean. And the molly.”
…”That’s cool. I’ve been down this road before, I have no shame.
…Okay, I don’t know. I’m just guessing.
Unsurprisingly, the station has since parted ways with Parr.
1. Skip Bayless says Steph Curry should have stopped adding Kevin Durant: Bayless has long been known for his rants about Kevin Durant and particularly about Durant joining the Warriors, but this is one of the best he’s ever delivered. He says here (around the 5:50 mark) that Steph Curry, out of some presumed need to be an alpha dog, should have told Warriors’ executives not to bring in Durant:
“I was such a Steph Curry fan, especially before he was drafted, and I lost a measure of respect for him last year when he seemed to happily agree and embrace the fact that Kevin Durant was going to join a team that had already won a record number of games, that had already beaten him and should have won the Finals. …If Steph Curry is that guy, that guy says no. He just puts his foot down and says to management “No.” He would boycott the move. He would make such a stink that he just wouldn’t do it, he would boycott, he would go to the ownership, to the top.”
What even is going on here? First, Curry isn’t the Warriors’ GM (and Bayless certainly gives LeBron James enough grief whenever there’s a hint of him being involved in Cleveland’s personnel decisions). Second, why would a player not want one of the top players out there on his team? To bring it back to Bayless’ favorite analogy of Michael Jordan, does he think Jordan should have complained about the Bulls adding Dennis Rodman? Does he think Jordan didn’t need Scottie Pippen? This is a ludicrous take, and just one more of those from Bayless.
Honorable mentions: Grant Cohn for this take on Steve Kerr as “the 800-pound gorilla in the room” and how “he should step down or the Warriors should permanently replace him” if he isn’t healthy by July (Cohn is following in his father’s footsteps here), Mike Milbury on “lazy, whining” Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Reusse on “My #1 complaint about soccer is scarves” (plus ignoring Liga MX), Mark Kiszla on if Rockies’ rookie Antonio Senzatela belongs in the same sentence as Clayton Kershaw thanks to his eyes, Albert Burneko on Kelly Oubre Jr. being suspended for honesty rather than a shove that he admitted deserved a suspension. Whew. That’s enough for a whole column right there.
Notable absences: Phil Mushnick, Colin Cowherd, Shannon Sharpe, JT The Brick.
Hot Take Standings:
Stephen A. Smith – 80
Skip Bayless – 56
Phil Mushnick – 38
Shannon Sharpe – 20
JT The Brick – 17
Colin Cowherd – 15
Charles Barkley – 13
Don Cherry – 11
Doug Gottlieb – 8
Jason McIntyre – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Doug Gottlieb – 8
Ray Lewis – 7
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Sabrina Parr – 5
Abbey Mastracco – 5
Terry Cushman – 5
Rob Rossi – 5
Albert Breer – 5
Rick Bozich – 5
Michael O’Doherty – 5
Simon Briggs – 5
Dan Wetzel – 5
Mike Parry – 5
Bob Ryan – 5
Robert Reed – 5
Rick Morrissey – 5
Pete Dougherty – 5
Dan Le Batard – 5
Marcus Hayes – 5
Rob Parker – 5
Kyle Turley – 5
Mike Ditka – 5
Erril Laborde – 5
Lowell Cohn – 5
Rosie DiManno – 5
C.J. Nitkowski – 5
Frank Isola – 5
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
Nick Kypreos – 3
Jason Smith – 3
Caron Butler – 3
Don Brennan – 3
Robert Tychkowski – 3
Kristine Leahy – 3
Mike Johnston – 3
Mike Francesa – 3
Jeff Mans – 3
Danny Kanell – 3
Chris Broussard – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Dan Dakich – 3
Michael DeCourcy – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
Gary Parrish – 2
Michael Farber – 2
Andy Furman – 2
Donovan McNabb – 2
Seth Davis – 2
Jon Heyman – 2
Jason La Canfora – 2
Dan Wolken – 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.