This Week In Hot Takes for April 20-26.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes, examining all the hottest takes from sports media members. This time, we’re covering the April 20-26 period.

5. Chris “Mad Dog” Russo says Bart Scott is “not qualified under any circumstances” to host afternoon radio, adds that Mike Francesa’s coming back because he doesn’t want to spend time with his family: The saga of Mike Francesa’s return to WFAN after four months away and a 23-month goodbye tour has provoked all sorts of media reactions, but perhaps the hottest takes have come from Francesa’s former WFAN partner, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo. Russo left WFAN in 2008 to headline new Sirius XM channel Mad Dog Radio and has since landed work with MLB Network as well, but he still regularly comments on what’s going on at WFAN. Earlier this month, Russo had Francesa on his MLB Network show, and the two wound up bashing WFAN in general and Francesa’s afternoon replacements (Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott) in particular, leading to a passionate response from WFAN morning hosts Boomer Esiason and Gregg “Gio” Giannotti and a response to that response from Russo. This week, decade-removed WFAN pundit Russo took things even further, managing to get in shots at both Francesa replacement Scott and Francesa himself. First, here’s how he went off on Scott Wednesday:

“They’re gonna get me to go over there, and I’m gonna tell Bart to his face that he shouldn’t be on the radio. Would you like me to say that? He thinks somehow I’m afraid to approach Bart Scott and say, “Bart, listen. Good man, good guy, knock ’em dead, but you shouldn’t be doing a talk show.” Would you like me to say that to him? If Bart wants me to run down to Hudson St. I’ll do it. Bart, you are not qualified, just like I wouldn’t be qualified to be a linebacker coach if you were playing. You are not qualified, under any circumstances, to be doing an afternoon talk program on any big-market station in the country.”

Yes, because “talking about sports on the radio” is such a high bar for qualification, one that a former NFL player surely couldn’t meet. It’s pretty funny to have a supposed media member, a profession often unfairly on the other side of “you never played the game!”, trotting out the reverse argument as some sort of bar for radio. But maybe even the hotter take came earlier in the week, where Russo said Francesa looked “like a horse’s fanny” and added that he might be coming back because he didn’t want to spend time with his kids, and that raising kids should be a wife’s job.

“When you retire, just retire. You finish, you say goodbye on a Friday afternoon, give the callers a chance, and move on. You can’t do a long goodbye, because if you do a long goodbye, it gets a little tedious, number one, and number two, if you change your mind in five or six months, you look like a horse’s fanny. When it’s time to go, just sense in your own gut and go.”

“Make sure that when you do retire, you’ve got something to do every day. Now, Mike’s got young kids (13-year-old boy and girl twins and an 11-year-old son), so it’s much harder. You can’t go to Miami or West Palm Beach or the Kentucky Derby because you’ve got to deal with young kids in school!…You don’t want to be home with kids! That’s why the wife, that’s why the missus is there! Let Jeanne Russo take the kids to school, let her worry about Colin’s headache, let her worry about Kira’s SAT scores, let me go to work and do a talk show every day, and I’ll see you at 7:30!”

Given his 1950s takes on gender roles, he’s more like Mad Men Dog at this point. And it’s pretty great that in a single week he’s managed to hurl insults at both Francesa and one of Francesa’s replacements.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

4. Phil Mushnick is on about “vulgar, women-denigrating, N-wording rappers” again: Noted Francesa critic Mushnick is mad about that return as well, of course, writing a “WFAN forced to own up to pathetic Mike Francesa fraud” column, but his hottest take actually came last Friday. The previous week saw Fox Sports Oklahoma play-by-play announcer Brian Davis criticized and then eventually suspended for a game after he said on-air that Russell Westbrook “is out of his cotton-picking mind,” and Mushnick got mad online about that in a piece headlined “Thunder give in to misplaced outrage at announcer.” He brought up former ESPN tennis announcer Doug Adler (who the company decided not to work with any more following the “guerrilla/gorilla” controversy), but the best part comes from when he went to one of his go-tos, criticizing African-American rappers.

Yet, ESPN and the NBA remain eager to embrace vulgar, women-denigrating, N-wording rappers for populist cross-promotion. And the NBA continues to indulge players who now reflexively text and speak the N-word.

Such stunning, conspicuous hypocrisy is draining the good senses of the fair and open-minded, those vastly underrepresented who see racial equality as a matter of wrong or right rather than black or white.

So throw Brian Davis on the pile and quietly, gutlessly move along. Shame on the Thunder for convicting and punishing an innocent man.

Ah, yes, this is totally the same thing as rap music. And racial equality isn’t actually about race. Just another fine take from Mushnick.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

3. Ben Maller calls the A’s a “t-ball lineup,” gets mocked by the team: Fox Sports Radio host Maller came up with a doozy of a take this week, saying that Shohei Ohtani isn’t an effective pitcher thanks to less-than-stellar outings against the Red Sox and Astros (in two games where he was dealing with blisters), and that his pitching success came from facing the “t-ball lineup” of the Oakland A’s:

As the A’s themselves noted, they have some of the best batting stats this year, including more hits than the Red Sox and Astros:

But sure, keep on with that “t-ball lineup” argument. Also, this is a nice strawman argument from Maller. While there’s been plenty of discussion of how good Ohtani has been so far, few are comparing him to Ruth’s career after just a few MLB games. So that “hype train” isn’t as in need of someone to press the brakes (or “breaks”) as Maller claims.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

2. Jason Lieser says “half this arena just got out of jail” after Meek Mill’s release: Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill was sentenced to 2-4 years in jail in November for a probation violation, a sentence that provoked a lot of national outrage given how it compared to other sentences. After lobbying and appeals, he was released Tuesday and went to the Sixers’ playoff game against the Miami Heat to ring the pre-game Liberty Bell. That provoked quite the comment from Palm Beach Post Dolphins’ reporter Jason Lieser; he’s since deleted it, but here it is.

To his credit, Lieser did apologize later:

But that’s still an incredibly hot take.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

1. Christine Flowers says the Sixers are “dead to me” for honoring Meek Mill, “the felon got courtside seating [while] the rest of us work 9-to-5 to afford a few hours of joy”: Lieser’s take on Meek Mill wasn’t the hottest one on that subject, though. That comes from Philadelphia Daily News columnist Christine Flowers, who wrote a lovely column titled “Glorifying Meek Mill is not a good look for the Sixers“:

Despite years of die-hard Philly sports fandom, I am no longer rooting for a home team in the playoffs.

By allowing Meek Mill, just hours after his release from prison, to ring the bell in their pivotal game against the Heat, the Sixers did something that was unnecessary, irrelevant to the sport, and designed to alienate the simple, crazy, decades-loyal fans like me. And now, as Michael Corleone would have put it, they are dead to me.

…The Eagles didn’t shove Mill down the throats of fans. The Sixers did. They gave him a very high-profile platform. They glorified him. And by doing so, they endorsed his behavior — and I’m just not cool with that.

…These optics are more horrifying than a marathon of The Walking Dead. The fact that a team that I have loved and supported would give a platform to a convicted felon who has whined his way to freedom on a night when they should have been thinking of the fans who have embraced them for long, winless seasons is profoundly offensive.

…But I’ve followed the Meek Mill saga for more than seven years, and I believe that instead of glad-handing with celebrities and politicians at the Wells Fargo Center, he should be viewing the playoffs from a rec room while seated next to his orange-suited peers. The fact that he has the ability to speak in syncopated rhymes does not give him the right to be treated more leniently than other parole violators.

…Mill got [special treatement] from the Sixers, a basketball franchise that should have been worried about winning a championship but instead sent a message to all the law-abiding Philadelphians who worked hard to pay for their playoff tickets that they were fools and chumps. The felon got courtside seating. The rest of us work 9-to-5 to afford a few hours of joy.

The bell that Mill rang on Tuesday night was the death knell for my Sixers fandom.

Abandoning your fandom of a team simply because they gave a platform to someone who many felt was overly harshly punished is quite a take, as is saying this is the Sixers telling law-abiding Philadelphias they’re “fools and chumps.” Plenty of those fans were very happy to see Meek Mill at that game, and even beyond that, it’s not news that teams provide better treatment to celebrity fans, because those fans bring them some attention in return. Trying to say that this is somehow optics “more horrifying than a marathon of The Walking Dead is a hell of a stretch.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Honorable mention: Saskatchewan Roughriders’ broadcaster Rod Pedersen calls Calgary Stampeders’ quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell “mentally weak” for leaving Twitter after repeated trolling.

Hot Take Standings:

Stephen A. Smith – 193
Skip Bayless – 147
Phil Mushnick – 129
Colin Cowherd – 54
Shannon Sharpe – 35
Rob Parker – 29
Doug Gottlieb – 22
Ray Lewis – 21
JT The Brick – 20
Charles Barkley – 19
Albert Breer – 16
Don Cherry – 15
Bill Plaschke – 14
Chris Broussard – 13
Dan Dakich – 13
Rick Morrissey – 13
Jason McIntyre – 11
Michael DeCourcy – 11
Bob Brookover – 10
Jeremy Roenick – 10
Berry Tramel – 10
Kristine Leahy – 10
Ross Tucker – 9
Keith Olbermann – 9
Ryen Russillo – 9
Garth Crooks – 9
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Steve Simmons – 8
Dan Shaughnessy – 8
Frank Isola – 8
Michael Rapaport – 8
Tony Massarotti – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Andy Benoit – 7
Cris Carter – 7
Pat Forde – 7
Danny Kanell – 7
Pat Leonard – 6
Mike Francesa – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Christine Flowers – 5
Jason Lieser – 5
Ben Maller – 5
John Steigerwald – 5
Josh Peter – 5
Darren Rovell – 5
Alexi Lalas  – 5
Greg Gabriel  – 5
John Moody  – 5
Marni Soupcoff – 5
Ryan Rishaug – 5
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
Mike Sielski – 5
Gordon Monson – 5
Scott Fowler – 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
Mark Kiszla – 4
Greg Witter – 4
Myron Medcalf  – 4
Bill Polian – 4
MJ Franklin – 4
Alex Reimer – 4
Joan Vennochi – 4
Graham Couch – 4
Matt Yglesias – 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
Kirk Herbstreit – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
Mike Felger – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Chris Russo  – 3
Nick Cafardo – 3
Ice Cube – 3
Cathal Kelly – 3
Justin Peters – 3
Elise Finch – 3
Kevin Skiver  – 3
David Bahnsen – 3
Harold Reynolds – 3
Kevin Reynolds – 3
Mike Sheahan – 3
Bob Ford – 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
Brian Kenny – 2
Barrett Sallee – 2
Craig Calcaterra – 2
Max Kellerman – 2
Gareth Wheeler – 2
John Cornyn – 2
Tony Dungy – 2
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.

Correction: this column initially had Russo referring to Jeannie Rousseau. He meant his wife, Jeanne Russo.

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.