This Week In Hot Takes

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes! This time around, we’re looking at the hottest sports media takes from Oct. 6-12. 

5. Newsweek and Teddy Cutler ask “Did Trevor Bauer’s support for Trump cost the Indians the ALCS?” If this was a full-on take along these lines, it would get much higher billing. But in this case, it’s mostly a crazy (or really, tongue-in-cheek trolling) headline, and that’s why it’s down in the five-spot and why the points here go to both the outlet and the writer. It’s the headline that really makes this outrageous, as Cutler’s piece doesn’t actually blame Bauer’s support for President Trump (it points out all the on-field things Cleveland did wrong, then discusses Bauer’s in-game Trump-related Twitter activity (after he was pulled, though), and concludes with this:

Bauer apparently started blocking after he was pulled from the game. The Indians lost because he pitched badly, not because he likes Trump. They lost because Kluber couldn’t give them two games on a par with his regular-season form. Twitter blockathons are a tiny symptom of the malaise that froze the Indians this week, not the cause. But they probably didn’t help, either.

Well, that’s a bit of a hot take in its own right (players’ social media activity probably has next to no correlation to wins), but not as hot as the headline would suggest. Overall, though, this is just a lame play for clicks from Cutler and Newsweek. You could write about Bauer’s Twitter blocking spree without connecting it to the loss (as Deadspin did), or write about the loss, but no, you had to throw Trump into the headline and invoke a causal relationship. For that, you get some fire emojis.

Rating: ??

4. Keith Olbermann describes “27 years of doubts about rap,” pays Eminem a backhanded compliment: We don’t usually cover former sports media figures or political takes here (Olbermann would be a regular presence if we did), but this one was too good to ignore, and too on-point with our No. 1 take this week. Following Eminem’s BET Hip-Hop Awards freestyle rap video going after President Trump, Olbermann (a well-known Trump critic, most notably in his GQ videos) had some takes on rap:

It’s hard to know what’s funnier there, the “27 years” (rap began long before 1990, Keith), or the “doubts” of a whole genre being washed away by one Eminem song that happens to share your political beliefs. This led to a whole lot of backlash:

Sorry, Keith, but you are this week’s Worst Music Critic In The World.

Rating: ???

3. Colin Cowherd says U.S. should dominate soccer because “we dominate what we put our mind to”: The U.S. men’s national team’s loss to Trinidad and Tobago Tuesday eliminated them from World Cup qualifying, and that spawned plenty of incendiary takes. The takes from soccer media were one thing, though, as most had at least some grounding in reality and some awareness of where U.S. soccer is on the world stage. Colin Cowherd’s take on The Herd Wednesday, not so much:

What’s weird about this rant is it manages to mix in some legitimate, somewhat-informed points (for example, there are real questions about youth development procedures, and specifically if financial barriers are keeping some talented kids from competing at all or competing at a high level, and there are questions about USSF soccer leadership being rewarded despite multiple failures) in with a lot of hackneyed general sports columnist/radio host takes. For example, Cowherd’s argument that U.S. soccer culture is “softer than a down comforter” is ridiculous, as is his attempt to say that soccer players’ rest doesn’t matter because baseball players play almost every day. The really crazy part comes at 0:35, where he says that the U.S. should dominate soccer because it’s a rich country with a lot of people:

“We lost last night to Trinidad and Tobago. Couldn’t get a point. Pathetic. But our standards are what, making the World Cup? As the nations’ richest country? As the nations’ most profitable country? As the most athletic nation? You watch the Olympics, right? You watch the Olympics, right? We dominate what we put our mind to.”

That’s a ludicrous take in this day and age, even beyond its problematic language. It’s a take that ignores the much-better high level soccer played elsewhere, the long-running intensive development programs in other countries, the way that soccer is an uncontested number-one sport in many non-U.S. countries, and much more. The U.S. is trying to catch up on many of those fronts, and has made some progress, but implying that it can win the World Cup simply because of size and wealth is insane.

And the Olympics point doesn’t really hold true, either. Yes, the U.S. perennially does very well in the medal standings, winning the gold and overall counts in the 2016 and 2012 Summer Olympics, winning the overall count in 2008 (and placing second in golds), winning the overall count in the 2010 Winter Olympics (placing third in golds), and placing second in medals and fourth in golds in 2014. And funding certainly helps there (although Olympic sport funding isn’t necessarily about GDP, but about what governments and private entities decide to commit), but it doesn’t mean the U.S. can “dominate what we put our mind to.”

Many of those medals come in sports where the highest levels of competition are in the U.S., and where there aren’t many global competitors. And some events contested by many around the world, such as the 100-meter dash, the men’s ice hockey tournament, and the marathon, haven’t seen American men win since 2004, 1980, and 1972 respectively. The world isn’t just going to give up because the U.S. is richer and more populous; in fact, many countries (like the Netherlands) have found great success at the Olympics by focusing intense funding on a few sports where they do well.

And it’s the same story for soccer. Absolutely, the American GDP and population provide some advantages, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. is going to instantly start winning World Cups. Maybe that can happen somewhere down the line, with the right leadership, investment and talent. Certainly the U.S. can do better than this last round of qualifying. But it’s not a question simply of “dominate what we put our mind to.” The rest of the world has a lot to say about that too.

Rating: ????

2. Byron Tau says “America should not participate in international sporting events.” Tau, a Wall Street Journal reporter on Congress and other subjects, has long been known for his anti-soccer and anti-global sports takes. And the anti-soccer brigade in general was out in force following that U.S. elimination, but Tau managed to come up with the most over-the-top takes of all, saying the U.S. should abandon international sporting events of all sorts (including the Olympics) because “We have nothing to prove to anyone.”

Look, determining a country’s “greatness” over others by any measure isn’t great, but even if you’re going to do that, sporting results are possibly the worst metric to use. National teams’ wins are nice for pride, and provide joy and communal experiences to fans, and that’s cool. They don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things; other countries aren’t signing more favorable trade deals or treating a country’s people better thanks to Olympic or World Cup success (in fact, the exact opposite has sometimes been the case when it comes to sports), and it’s not like everyone suddenly emigrates to whatever country wins the World Cup. And sports aren’t necessarily trying to “prove” anything; international competitions of the best in the world representing their countries are nice to watch, but they’re not determining country rankings. Saying that the U.S. should pull out of international sporting competition goes even further, too, making this a pretty ridiculous take.

Rating: ????

1. Phil Mushnick complains about Jemele Hill…inviting rappers as SC6 guests? There’s a long history of sports columnists bashing rap music, especially if their name rhymes with Shmason Hitlock. There’s also a long history of stupid Phil Mushnick columns, from blaming Adrian Peterson because another man killed Peterson’s son to blasting Antonio Brown for a touchdown dance that “mimed copulation” (to wit, twerking) to saying international NCAA players are bad to going after ESPN broadcasters for not saying a #5 hitter should bunt. And the two collided in amazing fashion this week in Mushnick’s Thursday column, which was mostly about MLB managers not wrecking their starters’ arms the way they did in the good old days (another Mushnick favorite topic), but also included a long criticism of suspended ESPN broadcaster Jemele Hill.

The Hill section of the column started with some more standard takes that Hill should have been more loyal to her corporate bosses (problematic in its own right, but not necessarily a hot take), but then it got really weird. For some reason, Mushnick’s biggest criticism of Hill is that she invited rappers on her SC6 show.

Again, here we have unbalanced, highly selective social and racial activism and outrage, not a hint of objective fair-mindedness.

After all, we don’t recall her call to financially boycott teams that sign or retain players who have beaten women, abandon children born to “baby mamas” or tote illegal weapons, one in the chamber.

And she has indulged ESPN’s frequent “special guest” appearances of unspeakably and unprintably vulgar rappers who promote and cash in big on every heart-breaking, blood-spilling backwards stereotype of black America — especially rappers who have helped resuscitate the N-word while boasting of their sexual degradation of women as hit-the-road whores, bitches and worse.

And though Trump tweet-raps his own undignified put-down garbage, how and why did Hill ignore how President Obama, father of two daughters, happily posed with and praised such repulsive lyricists and recording “artists,” accepting their endorsements and donations — no good questions asked?

Or was Obama a big fan of Jay Z’s and Snoop Dogg’s but ignorant of their lyrics?

Cranky old white man Phil Mushnick is possibly the least knowledgeable person in the world about rap, and this is an incredibly poor take from him (but sadly, not all that far from the rest of the hot takes he spews for the Post to print). Oh, and of course he’s an authority on the n-word. After all, in an amazingly bad 2012 column, he suggested (in jest, as a shot at Jay-Z, but still) that the Brooklyn NBA team should adopt that word as their team name:

“As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots — what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new “urban” home — why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?

Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!”

Mushnick’s defense to the outrage he stirred up there? These paragraphs he sent to Bob’s Blitz:

“Such obvious, wishful and ignorant mischaracterizations of what I write are common. I don’t call black men the N-word; I don’t regard young women as bitches and whores; I don’t glorify the use of assault weapons and drugs. Jay-Z, on the other hand…..Is he the only NBA owner allowed to call black men N—ers?”

Jay-Z profits from the worst and most sustaining self-enslaving stereotypes of black-American culture and I’M the racist? Some truths, I guess, are just hard to read, let alone think about.”

Yes, Phil, your column is often extremely hard to read. But not for the reasons you think.

Rating: ?????

Notable absences: Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless

Hot Take Standings: 

Stephen A. Smith – 128
Skip Bayless – 107
Phil Mushnick – 86
Colin Cowherd – 43
Shannon Sharpe – 30
Rob Parker – 21
Charles Barkley – 19
Doug Gottlieb – 18
JT The Brick – 17
Albert Breer – 16
Don Cherry – 15
Ray Lewis – 14
Rick Morrissey – 13
Kristine Leahy – 10
Chris Broussard – 10
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Bill Plaschke – 9
Tony Massarotti – 8
Jason McIntyre – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Danny Kanell – 7
Dan Dakich – 7
Michael DeCourcy – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Nancy Armour – 5
Richard Justice – 5
John Middlekauff – 5
Garth Crooks – 5
Bill Plaschke – 5
Ameer Hasan Loggins – 5
Jesse Watters – 5
Jeremy Roenick – 5
John McGrath – 5
Ross Tucker  – 5
Mike Sielski – 5
Gordon Monson – 5
Scott Fowler – 5
Bob Brookover – 5
Berry Tramel – 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
Frank Isola – 5
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
Keith Olbermann – 3
Steve Greenberg – 3
Matt Burke – 3
Michael Rapaport – 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
Mike Francesa – 3
Jeff Mans – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
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
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.

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.