The hot takes roundup for May 5, on Adam Jones and Sidney Crosby, plus David Simon's reaction to a piping-hot take.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes. Here’s a look at the hottest sports media takes from April 28-May 4. Many of the usual suspects were pretty sedate this week, but there were plenty of takes out there to be found, especially on Sidney Crosby’s head injury and the racist abuse Adam Jones took. Let’s break them down. 

5. Jason Smith thinks Wayne Gretzky didn’t get hit because he was “liked and respected,” Sidney Crosby got hit because he isn’t: This all started with a tweet from Smith Monday night:

Smith then expounded on this further on his Fox Sports Radio show Tuesday:

“This hit that Crosby took, and hits he’s taken throughout his career, Gretzky never would have taken any of those. Never. Because number one, Gretzky always had players around him who, if you hit Gretzky, you would get your ass beat by Kurri or Klima or Marty McSorley. But Wayne Gretzky was well-liked, and he was well-respected, by all the players in the game. Sidney Crosby is neither. He is not well-liked, the players hate him, and they don’t respect him. They don’t respect him as a player. They don’t respect the whining, they don’t respect the entitlement, they never have, and Crosby’s had a very difficult NHL career because of it. He’s never gotten that hug that he thought he was going to get, as good as he’s been. Was he Gretzky? No. But is he still a fantastic player? Yeah, absolutely he is. But the players hate him, absolutely hate him. That’s why a hit like this came for Crosby. Players hate him, they don’t respect him.”

First off, let’s eliminate the idea that Gretzky never took hard hits:

And here’s one of those compilations, featuring a Gretzky and Kevin Lowe-narrated intro, even:

Is the general point that Gretzky didn’t take as many hits as Crosby accurate? Probably, but that has more to do with both the era and the style of play than anything about if they were “liked” or “respected”. Gretzky’s preferred “office” was behind the net, while Crosby often drives to the front of the net (as he did on the play where he got hurt), and that’s an area where you’re going to take bigger hits. And yes, Gretzky had enforcers to back him up (not the first two Smith mentions, though; the idea of Jari Kurri or Peter Klima beating someone up is hilarious. Gretzky’s main enforcers were McSorley and Dave “Cementhead” Semenko, who once fought Muhammad Ali), because that was an era where you could do that; teams used their fourth lines less, there wasn’t as much of a premium on skating ability, and there wasn’t the instigator rule. But those factors don’t have a ton to do with if he was “liked” or “respected,” and their absence in Crosby’s case is about how things have changed; he can’t just camp out behind the net, and the Penguins can’t just ice a pure enforcer who can’t skate. People like to hit Crosby because they like to hit opponents, especially good opponents, and that was true with Gretzky as well.

Rating: ???

4. Nick Kypreos argues for injuring opposing stars: Speaking of bad hockey takes, here’s another one from Rogers Sportsnet analyst Kypreos. On Tuesday night (one day after Crosby was injured), Kypreos was discussing the New York Rangers’ hits on Ottawa Senators’ defenseman Erik Karlsson, and he opted to argue that it’s always valuable to try and take out an opposing star:

Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be video of this, but there are tweets supporting that this was in fact Kypreos’ argument. As noted above, this is ironic considering Kypreos’ own career ended thanks to concussions. Advocating for injuring others doesn’t seem like the smartest move.

Rating: ???

3. Albert Breer demands proof of racist insults tossed at Adam Jones: Breer, a reporter for SI’s The MMQB, went all in following the Jones incident to demand proof (despite Jones’ comments, comments from Red Sox players, apologies from the organization and from Boston’s mayor, and comments from other MLB players), and it wasn’t a good look:

Breer has continued to double down since then, especially arguing with Dave Zirin about the numbers involved (Jones himself said the insults came from more than one fan):

Would you like a burning bush as proof as well, Mr. Breer, or perhaps a dry fleece?

Rating: ?????

2. Rob Rossi drops a WWE promo on Capitals’ coach Barry Trotz, says Capitals planned to injure Crosby: Rossi, a former Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist who now works for something called “upgruv” (don’t ask) had an amazing night Monday, getting into a testy exchange with Capitals’ coach Barry Trotz, writing a disastrous hot take of a column, and most spectacularly, dropping a WWE-style promo video insulting Trotz. Here’s our video summarizing his night:

“You’re the master at getting the most out of your team in the regular season, which makes you the perfect coach for the Washington Capitals, because who knows getting the most out of the regular season better than the Washington Capitals? But playoff hockey, it’s a little bit different. And some of the things you’ve said are indicative of the things the Capitals have done in this series. And it’s not real intelligent hockey. It’s not hockey conducive to winning in the postseason.”

“And one of the things that you’re going to see as this postseason continues is the Penguins advance and the Capitals go home. And it’s all because Barry Trotz, maybe he’s a good coach, maybe he’s even a really good coach, but to be a really successful coach in the playoffs, you need to be great. And if you just listen to him talk, you’ll know Barry Trotz is incapable of that.”

Seeing a columnist go after a rival coach this way is something, but the even hotter take came in the column, which said that Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (who started the play with a hit on Crosby, but didn’t deliver the check in question and wasn’t penalized) should be suspended for the whole playoffs, and that the Capitals came up with a Shakespearean plan to take out Crosby during a closed-door meeting:

Makes you wonder what that closed-door meeting called by Capitals players was really about after their blowout defeat in Game 2, huh?

Not really.

If they say it wasn’t about eliminating Crosby, the Capitals are liars. And if that sounds like an unfair accusation to make of the Capitals, then please consider my decade of experience covering a sport I love and a league I really, really, really want to give the benefit of the doubt.

(Or maybe consider their coach publicly saying hisplayers must go places they hadn’t gone before?)

Sorry, but I cannot give the Capitals, or the NHL, any benefit. And I doubt very much there wasn’t an intent to injure Crosby when this series shifted to Pittsburgh.

What if Breer demanded proof from this guy instead?

Rating: ?????

1. Terry Cushman compares Adam Jones incident to protests against police brutality in Baltimore, gets called out by David Simon: I debated whether or not to include this one, as we don’t usually cover lower-profile bloggers here (and we don’t count ex-sports media people, which is why Curt Schilling’s deluded take on Jones isn’t present), but the fires of Cushman’s take were too good to ignore. Cushman, who writes for the blog and frequently tweets in ALLCAPS, made one of the biggest stretches you’ll ever see in the wake of the Jones incident, saying that Baltimore couldn’t complain because of violence that happened during protests against police brutality in that city:

He then got called out by David Simon, creator and executive producer of The Wire and a famous Orioles fan:

An apples-to-oranges reacharound argumentum non sequitur indeed, and one worthy of the top spot here. Oh, and see also Cushman’s other dignified response:

Honorable mentions: Phil Mushnick on tennis hypocrisy, Ken Campbell on hockey’s “culture of violence.”

Notable absences: Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, Shannon Sharpe.

Hot Take Standings:

Stephen A. Smith – 75
Skip Bayless – 51
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
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
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

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.