Bill Welt blasting exit velocity topped this week's hot takes.

Welcome to another installment of This Week In Hot Takes, this time breaking down the hottest sports media takes from Oct. 12-18.

5. Albert Breer gives the NFL credit for an anthem approach they didn’t try to take: Sports Illustrated‘s newly-promoted MMQB lead Albert Breer has long been known for controversial opinions and for promoting the NFL’s side of stories (making it pretty funny that he once complained NFL Network was too restrictive), and he’s back doing both of those things, praising the NFL for solving the issue of protests during the anthem with a piece Thursday titled “The NFL realized the best anthem policy was no anthem policy.” The key part of that:

Has the NFL been perfect on the anthem? No. Far from it. But for now, the league is riding a two-pronged solution that was so simple and grounded in common sense that … somehow it worked. And those two prongs can be laid out in nine words.

Work with the players.
Leave the anthem policy alone.

Except that’s not even close to true. As Deadspin’s Laura Wagner points out in the appropriately-titled “Albert Breer Needs Help! He Is In Danger Of Drowning In All The Water He Is Carrying For NFL Owners!”, this was not the approach the NFL owners or league executives wanted at all:

In his column yesterday, for instance, Breer commended the NFL for how it “resolved” the “anthem crisis.” Praising the way the NFL “resolved” anything to do with the anthem protests—not that Breer mentions this, but they involve players protesting systemic racial inequality and police violence—is, at best, like praising someone for putting a lit M-80 in his mouth and then tossing it away the second before it blows up.

…This is, of course, not even right; as my colleague Dom Cosentino wrote yesterday, after months of Trump-induced fear and ill-advised bumbling over anthem policies, owners were still trying to get an anthem policy in place as recently as the day before this season started, which they were unable to do because the NFLPA wouldn’t agree to it.

Precisely. So the owners were still trying to impose a disastrous crackdown, the players’ union prevented them from doing so, the issue has dissipated thanks to less players choosing this particular method of protest, and Breer somehow decided that this shows the brilliance of the NFL’s executives. He’s happy to insist on proof of racist behavior from Boston fans, but to give NFL executives and owners the benefit of the doubt.

Rating: 🔥🔥

4. Stephen A. Smith argues Anthony Davis won’t win the MVP award because he plays in the Smoothie King Center: Stephen A. is great at dialing up the passion on completely ridiculous arguments, and that’s what he did Thursday, arguing that New Orleans Pelicans’ star Anthony Davis can’t be named Most Valuable Player because of…the Pelicans’ arena name.

“Anthony Davis! Looking like that league MVP to be! Although I still think it’s going to be LeBron James, because I refuse to believe that some dude that’s playing 41 nights a year at the SMOOTHIE KING CENTER is going to win a MVP! I just can’t see it!”

It’s the passion he shows for completely irrational arguments like this that’s led to descriptions of Smith as “emphatic on command,” and to glorious tweets like the Crab Rangoon one:

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

3. Mad Dog Russo loses his mind over MLB start times: Speaking of delightfully-unhinged rants, boy, did Chris “Mad Dog” Russo give us one this week, using his SiriusXM show Wednesday to absolutely unload on “gahbahge” channels FS1 and TBS and MLB itself (did we mention that he also works for MLB Network?) for…starting games at times when viewers were likely to watch, but having them run after Russo’s bedtime.

“THIS IS RIDICULOUS! Why, because of FS1, TBS, I mean, geez, gahbahge channels anyway! My god! …This is RIDICULOUS! 2:25 a.m.! And when it’s convenient for baseball, they’ll make the Dodgers fan go to a day game on a weekday in a postseason spot! ‘Hey, we gotta put the Cubs in primetime, screw it, you play at 1:00!’ They don’t care! But when it’s not, when it’s the other way, they’re going to give you, when they do something stupid like this, they’re going to tell you, ‘Well, we want the Dodgers fan watching at 6:09 on the West Coast.’ YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS! You cannot!”

“Think about it! If you’re a Milwaukee Brewers fan living in Wisconsin, YOU WENT TO BED ON IT! IT’S ONE TWENTY-FIVE THERE! SCHOOL NIGHT! GEEZ! One-twenty-five!”

So, in the same rant, Russo manages to both criticize early games and late games. And to provide one of the most New York-centric perspectives imaginable. But the sheer theatricality of this is what’s really funny. Has anyone in the history of the world ever cared this much about what time games start?

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

2. Jack Todd asks “Have some of us forgotten why we watch sports?”, implying everyone watches sports for the reasons he does: Montreal Gazette curmudgeon Jack Todd delivered an extremely predictable column this week, saying that everyone should watch sports the way he does, for the reasons he does, and with his limited understanding of what’s actually going on. You know it’s going to be good when the subhead is “Sometimes, we’re caught up in everything from contracts to Corsi, too busy with our calculators and web wars to simply watch the game.” Oh, and his whole premise for this is using Anthony Bourdain’s critical comments about people enjoying and analyzing craft beer, because it’s the least shocking thing in the world that Jack Todd prefers simple mass-market beer. But skipping over that to the part where he gets to hockey:

Ah, if only Bourdain had written about sports. He might have said the same thing about a hockey game — the way we pick it apart, tasting the game in small glasses rather than just calling for a cold one and kicking back to enjoy. “This is wrong. This is not what hockey is about. A hockey game is a place to go and get a little bit buzzed, and pleasantly derange the senses, and have a good time …”

I was thinking of Bourdain’s comments about craft beer because I wonder, at times, whether we haven’t forgotten how to watch sports. Or why we watch in the first place. When I wrote last week perhaps we should simply enjoy this swift, young Canadiens team and not worry too much about the result, there were many who agreed — and many more with comments like “that style of play isn’t going to work in the playoffs!” Or: “You’re a lousy hockey analyst — I hate Marc Bergevin!”

…Today, watching people consume 21st century professional sports is like suffering through Invasion of the Body Snatchers all over again. It means obsessing over the wrong things, refusing to enjoy a fun bunch of young Canadiens as they skate all over the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins because we’re busy studying possession stats, arguing over the GM, worrying about a player who has yet to score three games into the season.

Sometimes, we need to simply sit back and drink a cold lager without checking the label. We need to watch a home-run ball soar into the Denver night or a fizzing missile hit a goaltender’s glove without worrying about launch angles, WAR or the goalie’s impending RFA status. We need to remember what drew us to the sport in the first place:

Todd has proven time and time again that he doesn’t understand advanced statistics, and that can be fine; they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, and no one is saying that the only way to watch sports is with a knowledge of statistical analysis. But this argument’s really funny because he’s trying to get everyone else to sink down to his level; if he doesn’t understand it, it can’t possibly be valuable. Also, if the goal is just to watch sports and not analyze what’s happening and why, every sports columnist and analyst (including Todd) would soon be out of a job. (And this should absolutely be thrown back in his face every time he makes a dumb criticism, which he inevitably will continue to do; “Why aren’t you just watching a fizzing missile hit the goaltender’s glove, Jack?”)

But hey, Todd’s entitled to sit there with his cold mass-market lager and go “Ah, look, a thing happened! Who cares why it happened or what it means?” There’s plenty of room for different approaches to sports, and different people watch for different reasons and enjoy different elements of the game. What’s really annoying here is Todd’s presumption that “We need to remember what drew us to the sport in the first place,” suggesting that everyone got into sports for the reasons he did. No, what “we need to remember” is that people are different, and that they watch and enjoy sports differently. And fortunately, many, many of them are smarter than Jack Todd.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

1. Bill Welt calls exit velocity “the most popular fake stat of them all”: This week’s hottest take is along similar lines to Todd’s, but it perhaps goes even further, with Bill Welt of the Springfield (Illinois) State Journal-Register demonstrating his ignorance in a piece titled “Most popular ‘Fake Stat’ of them all: exit velocity“. We’re just going to paste the whole thing here, because it’s a hilariously short column full of one-sentence paragraphs:

Fellow writer Trevor Lawrence famously coined ‘Fake Stats’ awhile back.

I think I know the biggest one of all — exit velocity in baseball.

Networks will show a replay of a home run and emphasize how fast the ball went out of the ballpark.

For example, a home run traveled up to 115 miles per hour over the fence.

What does that mean?

I don’t know because I can already discern that the dang ball was crushed.

This is what I do know: It doesn’t matter and nobody cares.

I like to see how fast a pitcher can throw the ball. That’s something that matters and a regular viewer like myself can appreciate.

Otherwise, stop throwing numbers at me that don’t matter. It’s getting out of hand.

Just stop.

“What does that mean? I don’t know.” Just tremendous. And “It doesn’t matter and nobody cares,” followed shortly by praise for pitcher velocity. It’s also funny that the Todds and Welts of the world like to paint themselves as the “regular viewers,” arguing that everything should be marketed to the lowest common denominator. (Oh no, is that too fancy math for them too?) Look, if you don’t care about exit velocity, fine, no one’s making you. But it’s not a “fake stat”; just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s made up. And you can’t say “it doesn’t matter and nobody cares”; there’s proof that plenty of people who aren’t you do care! Good luck trying to drag the rest of the world down to your level, though, Bill.

Rating:  🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Hot Take Standings: 

Jason Whitlock – Hall of Fame
Stephen A. Smith – 214
Skip Bayless – 191
Phil Mushnick – 157
Colin Cowherd – 74
Rob Parker – 44
Doug Gottlieb – 41
Shannon Sharpe – 35
Dan Shaughnessy – 26
Albert Breer – 25
Ray Lewis – 25
Britt McHenry – 20
JT The Brick – 20
Charles Barkley – 19
Danny Kanell – 17
Darren Rovell – 17
Jason McIntyre – 16
Tony Massarotti – 15
Ben Maller – 15
Don Cherry – 15
Bill Plaschke – 14
The Sporting News – 13
Andy Benoit – 13
Chris Broussard – 13
Dan Dakich – 13
Rick Morrissey – 13
John Middlekauff – 11
Michael DeCourcy – 11
Keith Olbermann – 11
Jason Smith – 10
Joe Simpson – 10
Bob Brookover – 10
Jeremy Roenick – 10
Berry Tramel – 10
Kristine Leahy – 10
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo  – 9
Michael Wilbon – 9
Mike Francesa – 9
Ross Tucker – 9
Ryen Russillo – 9
Garth Crooks – 9
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Mike Felger – 8
Steve Simmons – 8
Frank Isola – 8
Michael Rapaport – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Mike Bianchi – 7
Kirk Herbstreit – 7
Cris Carter – 7
Pat Forde – 7
Pat Leonard – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Bill Welt – 5
Jack Todd – 5
Bill James – 5
Aaron Murray – 5
Chris Childers – 5
Mark Knight – 5
The Herald Sun – 5
David Booth – 5
Tom Nichols – 5
Keith Hernandez – 5
Bill O’Reilly – 5
Brandel Chamblee – 5
Michael McCarthy – 5
Mike “The Reputation Doctor®”  Paul – 5
Dennis Dodd – 5
Rich Lowry – 5
Chris Reed – 5
San Diego Union-Tribune – 5
David Hookstead – 5
Tomm Looney – 5
Alex Shaw – 5
Rick Reilly – 5
Randall Mell – 5
Ian O’Connor – 5
Michael Bamberger – 5
Bob Bubka – 5
Cathal Kelly – 5
Pete Prisco – 5
Damien Cox – 5
Bill Simons – 5
Christine Flowers – 5
Jason Lieser – 5
John Steigerwald – 5
Josh Peter – 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
Chuck Modiano – 5
Joel Klatt – 5
Steve Buffery – 5
Joe Morgan – 5
Michael Felger – 5
Howard Eskin – 5
Nancy Armour – 5
Richard Justice – 5
Ameer Hasan Loggins – 5
Jesse Watters – 5
John McGrath – 5
Mike Sielski – 5
Gordon Monson – 5
Scott Fowler – 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
Mitchell Nathanson  – 4
The New York Daily News – 4
“Big” Jim Murray – 4
Jeff Diamond – 4
Marc Berman – 4
Evan Roberts – 4
Corbin Smith  – 4
DJ Siddiqi  – 4
The Express  – 4
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
Jeff Pearlman – 4
Tony Grossi – 4
FanSided – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Mark Teixeira – 3
Wally Hall – 3
Damien Woody – 3
Victor Cruz – 3
Andrew Walker – 3
Jim Kaat – 3
Jason Gay – 3
The Wall Street Journal – 3
Steven J. Brams – 3
Aaron Isaksen – 3
Will Muschamp – 3
Buck Lanford – 3
John Feinstein – 3
Stan Fischler – 3
Sonnie Wooden – 3
Chris Jones – 3
Kelly Smith – 3
Reggie Miller – 3
Mark Madden – 3
Larry Brooks – 3
Dan Canova – 3
Steve Rosenbloom – 3
Stephen Jackson – 3
Mike Sando – 3
Walt Borla – 3
Nick Cafardo – 3
Ice Cube – 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
Caron Butler – 3
Don Brennan – 3
Robert Tychkowski – 3
Mike Johnston – 3
Jeff Mans – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
Trent Dilfer – 2
Grant Paulsen – 2
Jeff Ermann – 2
Ed Werder  – 2
Ben Mulroney – 2
Ron Cook – 2
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.

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.