Phil Mushnick had the hottest takes this week.

Welcome back to This Week In Hot Takes! After a week off, we’re back to break down the hottest sports media takes from Oct. 26-Nov. 1.

5. Mike Greenberg says Baker Mayfield’s agent “should demand a trade,” and “For the good of the sport, the Browns should let him go”: Get Up host Greenberg delivered quite the fiery take this week, arguing that the Browns are “going to ruin” quarterback Baker Mayfield:

First, the Browns likely want Mayfield to succeed more than anyone. Second, there’s nothing provided here on just how the Browns are “going to ruin him,” and it’s particularly odd to hear this take right around the team’s firing of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley; without even knowing what this team’s coaching staff will look like for the rest of this year or after this season, how can you conclude they’re going to ruin Mayfield?

It should also be noted that Mayfield has shown plenty of sparks in five starts so far,despite problematic coaching and questionable talent around him. So the Browns haven’t exactly ruined him so far. And, on the flip side, it’s only been five starts; maybe Mayfield will be great or maybe he will be a bust, but it’s real tough to say he needs to be out of Cleveland “for the good of the game.” (Also, doesn’t “the good of the game” involve some hope for Browns’ fans too, perhaps? Or does it only relate to teams Greenberg likes?) And that’s before you get to Mayfield’s limited leverage here, to the price Cleveland would certainly demand for trading a promising first-overall pick, and to the small number of teams that might be willing to meet that price, which wouldn’t even necessarily produce a better situation for Mayfield. All in all, this is an absurd take.

Rating: 🔥🔥

4. Stephen A. Smith says the Chargers will lose because of the cold, just like in War of the Worlds, which had nothing to do with temperature: Speaking of absurdity from ESPN morning show pundits, here’s First Take‘s Stephen A. Smith completely misstating the plot of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (and its various radio and TV adaptations) in an attempt to make a ludicrous point that the Chargers can’t play in the cold:

“But War of the Worlds, right? What killed those aliens at the end of the movie? The cold weather! They couldn’t handle it! They couldn’t handle it! They couldn’t handle it! The fact of the matter is, what happened, at the end of the day, they’re sitting there, they’re terrorizing folks and all of this other stuff, and at the end of the movie, you just see them there collapsing. What happened? They froze to death! That’s the Chargers! They ain’t going to, I’m trying to tell you, Chargers ain’t going to Foxborough, they ain’t winning in Foxborough and they ain’t winning in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.” He then goes on to say that the Rams would have a better chance (invalidating the weather point, as they’re both “Los Angeles” teams at this point) but that they won’t have to (because they play in the NFC, so, yeah). And finishes with “Philip Rivers…the brother’s special…in nice, beautiful weather. When it get, when it get, come to me about the Chargers once December arrives!”

As Ryan Clark notes near the start of that clip, it was a virus that killed the War of the Worlds aliens. (Well, technically, most versions have it as an unspecified Earth pathogen; it could have been bacterial.) But it wasn’t the temperature. And while everything else from setting (Victorian England initially, modern America in several adaptations, etc) to plot has been liberally tweaked in the tons of adaptations out there (including three separate movies in 2005 alone), the invaders falling to an Earth pathogen has remained remarkably constant. Moreover, the idea of them being killed by cold weather is absolutely ludicrous, as Mars on the whole is much colder than Earth thanks to being further from the sun and having a thinner atmosphere (temperatures there are -80 Fahrenheit on average, can be as cold as -195F at the poles or -100F at the equator, and usually only reach highs close to 70 F.) So maybe pick another example to make your cold-weather point, Stephen A.? (Although, Stephen A. Smith Comically Misremembers Movies would be a better show than First Take.)

Oh, and the cold weather take is silly too, especially when it comes to Rivers. He’s often played his best late in the calendar, and as of January 2014, was 5-0 in his career while wearing gloves.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

3. Bill Simmons argues for a patently illegal play: Let’s continue with another counterfactual narrative. Much like his former ESPN colleague Smith, Simmons feels he’s an authority on everything, and that’s particularly funny when he’s arguing for something that’s clearly wrong. That happened during the World Series, where he not only advocated for Red Sox player Ian Kinsler to bowl over the catcher, but criticized Fox announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz for not even discussing the idea. The problem? That approach has been illegal for years, as SI’s Jon Tayler noted.

Good work there, Bill.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

2. Doug Gottlieb wonders if NBA Comeback Player of the Year has “already been decided” after Derrick Rose’s 50-point night, says Rose may be “the feel good story of the season”: Here are Gottlieb’s comments about Rose:

These comments aren’t great on a couple of levels. First, handing out a end-of-the-year award after one night is obviously dumb. But more importantly, unequivocally presenting Rose as “a feel-good story” is a bad look, considering the lawsuit he’s faced from a woman claiming Rose and his friends drugged and raped her, a lawsuit that’s seen problematic admissions from Rose such as his claim that he didn’t know what consent was. (Rose was initially found not guilty in a civil trial, but an appeal will be heard later this month.) Of course media can talk about Rose’s play on the court, but presenting his comeback as a “feel-good story” without any discussion of the allegations against him isn’t a good look. ESPN’s Rachel Nichols displayed a much more balanced take on this Friday:

No one’s expecting insightful, nuanced takes on sports and society from Doug Gottlieb of all people, someone who’s shown a tendency for anything but that, but pushing the “feel-good story” stuff is particularly bad, and particularly offensive to those who don’t feel good about Rose’s return to prominence.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

1. Phil Mushnick’s “sick, disturbing” comments on the Michigan – Michigan State pre-game shenanigans: It’s been quite the month for New York Post resident curmudgeon Phil Mushnick, who topped this column twice in that span. First, he wrote a column titled “Deranged adults scaring off refs and ruining youth sports,” arguing that parents’ poor behavior is thanks to…professional athletes’ celebrations. Then, he called Lil’ Wayne a “low-life rapper” and complained about his “vulgar, N-worded, women-denigrating lyrics and his extensive criminal record.” Mushnick’s back again, this time with a column from last Friday full of hot takes on the Michigan – Michigan State pre-game shoving, titled “The sick, disturbing video that ESPN thought was a laugh riot.” And in typical Mushnick form, it uses some problematic language:

ESPN’s demolitionists went to work Saturday afternoon when its college football studio aired footage of a pregame Michigan-Michigan State turf war that resembled a prison-yard riot on the boil prior to the start of the sanctioned turf war between hate-fueled, adult-guided student-athletes.

When the group hassle ended, Michigan linebacker Devin Bush ripped free of his teammates’ restraints and, like a crazed, escaped beast, ran to the on-field Michigan State logo to tear and scrape at it with his cleats.

Disturbing, sick.

Yeah, comparing a player to a “crazed, escaped beast” is not a good look, as is citing a pretty minor event as something that “resembled a prison-yard riot.” Deadspin’s Laura Wagner reacted with a piece titled “Race-Baiting Troll Phil Mushnick Is Really Reaching For Excuses To Be Racist Now,” and she’s not wrong; regardless of Mushnick’s intent here, his language carries a whole lot of problematic racial associations. This wasn’t the only dumb thing Mushnick wrote this week, though; on Thursday, after spending most of a column ranting about the Mets hiring GM Brodie Van Wagenen, formerly an agent for some Mets’ players, he decided to go off on Red Sox manager Alex Cora for daring to say “We scored 16 at Yankee Stadium, suck on it!” at a victory parade. Oh, and he threw in some shots at the brilliant MLB Postseason ad that mocked celebration-hating, unwritten-rule loving trolls like himself.

Wednesday, as part of a Red Sox victory parade in Boston attended by roughly 750,000 — and of all ages — manager Alex Cora took the microphone and in a classless ambush, attacked the weeks-ago vanquished Yankees with a vulgarity for fellatio. The crowd, naturally, cheered its approval.

But this is where we are. Rob Manfred, a panderer who pretends to believe that your kids — not his — would enjoy baseball if they acceded to TV ads encouraging them to acts of in-game immodesty — even if the ads appear at midnight — should have immediately and publicly condemned Cora for his indefensible public conduct.

Unless, of course, Manfred was good with it. If so, he should have made that equally clear.

But along with the commissioner’s, the media’s right-minded outrage has been silenced as a matter of illogical fear — the fear of being mocked by the mostly young and desensitized, desensitized by insidious marketing design.

Those soul-for-sale MLB ads promoting selfish play by kids contain a background mockery of those heard urging professionalism — say, running to first base — from professionals.

Hey, congrats, Phil, you figured out they were mocking you! But sure, the real problems are a manager using “a vulgarity for fellatio” and players celebrating home runs instead of running hard to first base. Oh, and don’t get him started on NFL celebrations:

This NFL season began with the latest in a series of Roger Goodell-indulged lewd touchdown “celebrations.” In Week 1 against the Raiders, Rams cornerback Marcus Peters returned an interception, then merrily grabbed his genitals.

Peters was quietly fined $13,000 but said, “It was worth it.” His coach, Sean McVay, gave it his approval as “a light-hearted moment,” the media gave it brief but nonjudgmental attention and Goodell returned to pretending that he never said “PSLs are good investments.”

The rush to promote antisocial and, forgive the antiquity, unsportsmanlike behavior shows up in all forms and in all planned but unopposed ways.

Mushnick’s hatred for anything involving “vulgarity” or “genitals” makes it seems like his columns were meant for a prudish Victorian newspaper, which makes it particularly funny that he writes for the paper of “Headless body in topless bar” fame. And while his celebration-bashing and vulgarity-criticizing takes aren’t quite as bad as “prison riot” or “crazed, escaped beast,” they add to the utter absurdity of this man having any sort of platform in 2018.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Hot Take Standings: 

Jason Whitlock – Hall of Fame
Stephen A. Smith – 217
Skip Bayless – 191
Phil Mushnick – 162
Colin Cowherd – 74
Rob Parker – 44
Doug Gottlieb – 44
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
Bill Simmons – 3
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
Mike Greenberg – 2
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.