Jon Steinberg brought the hottest take from Nov. 9-15.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes, this time looking at the hottest media takes from Nov. 9-15. 

5. Damien Cox suggests the Leafs should trade Auston Matthews: Auston Matthews is just 21 and in his third NHL season, but his career is off to an amazing start. The first overall pick in the 2016 draft performed almost immediately, posting 40 goals and 29 assists in 82 games during his rookie season and winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year, and then followed that up with 34 goals and 29 assists in 69 games in his sophomore season. This year, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ center has battled injury, but has posted 10 goals and six assists in 11 games, and he’s continued to look like one of the best players out there when he is on the ice. And that prompted a suggestion from Sportsnet’s Damien Cox that the Leafs…trade him?

Look, yes, on one level, it’s hard to declare any player “untradeable”; there should theoretically be a return that would be worth trading anyone. And Cox doesn’t specify what the “whole pile of goodies” is. But it’s hard to imagine a serious offer that would make it worthwhile for the Leafs to trade Matthews; when you have a guy who’s just 21, already has a 40-goal season under his belt, and continues to produce more than a point per game, you’d need something incredible to give him up. And a key element to consider here is that two good players often doesn’t equal one elite player, as you can only play five skaters at a time. Stars are critically important in the NHL, and they’re hard to get and hard to hang on to. Suggesting a trade of Matthews at this point feels pretty hot takey.

Rating: 🔥🔥

4. Michael Wilbon rants about the “analytical hijacking” of baseball, says “I value winning the damn game more than the ERA!”: Many media members have figured out that pitcher wins and losses aren’t a great stat, as they have a lot to do with run support, relievers and so on, factors outside of the pitcher’s control. That leads to results like Mets’ pitcher Jacob deGrom winning the NL Cy Young with 29 of 30 votes, thanks to a a 1.70 ERA, a 1.98 FIP, and a 216 ERA+ and despite a 10-9 record. But it also leads to old dinosaurs like ESPN’s Michael Wilbon ranting that no one cares about wins and losses these days:

“You know, Tony, I’m not with these people. I don’t respect their judgment, actually, because I don’t value what they value. I value winning the damn game more than the ERA! And therefore, it is analytical hijacking. These people have hijacked baseball, they want to impose their will and tell you what’s important. I don’t share most of, maybe none of, their values, and it’s absurd.”

Well, congratulations on not sharing their values for “things that actually indicate pitcher performance” rather than “things that tell you about the rest of the team,” Mike, and congrats on demonstrating just how out of touch you are.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

3. Jim Brady tells Megan Greenwell he’s never heard of her, she points out that they worked together: There was a whole sports media flap this week after sports director Kevin Manahan tweeted a job posting that seemed to imply a massive amount of work for an unspecified “stipend,” with Deadspin’s Laura Wagner criticizing that, many sportswriters (primarily older white men) talking about how they started at low-paid jobs that perhaps took advantage of them and how the next generation should have to do that too, and others criticizing the privilege required for that approach. But this really got takey when it came to Jim Brady, the former ESPN public editor and the CEO of Spirited Media (where he previously let a writer go for criticizing his work in his ESPN role and said “I don’t know why that’s controversial.“)

Brady endorsed Manahan and that approach, which many others did. But he took it to a new level when he got into a Twitter feud with Deadspin and editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell, who he lumped in with “people I’ve never met who run sites I don’t respect.” (Always good to try and big-time the critics.) Greenwell then noted that she used to work with him at The Washington Post. Here’s a look at how that played out:

Brady then tried to pivot to “if we met a few times, so be it”:

Brady certainly isn’t alone in the crowd defending Manahan, and as with the Cox take mentioned above, more detail is perhaps needed to illustrate if Manahan’s approach is truly problematic. It’s certainly written in a way that implies that it will require a ton of work and won’t pay well, but with Manahan insisting the “stipend” would be negotiated with the final candidate, it’s possible (if perhaps not likely) that it could actually be reasonable compensation for the amount of work he’s asking the person to do.

And while there are problems with the “take a crappy job and work your way up” approach emphasized by Brady (who previously tweeted “I started at the Washington Post as a part-timer for $10 an hour in 1987 and it was the greatest opportunity for me at that age” on this front) and others (in particular, as many have noted, making it so hard to get in the media door tends to reinforce media’s substantial diversity problems, as it tends to be white people who are more able to take a job that doesn’t fully provide what they need to live; there’s also a real question about why people take the “I suffered, so you must also suffer” approach instead of trying to ensure new people don’t have to go through what they did), the real hot take comes from him incorrectly big-timing Greenwell here.

There’s no requirement for Brady to care about opinions from anyone, of course, and it’s understandable why he’s not high on Deadspin given the many times they raked him over the coals during his time at ESPN. But “career evaluations from people I’ve never met who run sites I don’t respect” is just wrong, and the whole tenor of his responses to Greenwell (and to Wagner before that) feels weird; from this corner, it would have seemed far better for him to say his piece about how a part-time job worked well for him and then just say “I disagree” to critics (or not respond at all) rather than to get in a protracted fight like this and insult his critics instead of engaging them on their points. But this is far from the first time Brady’s gotten into Twitter fights, and at least he’s not doing so in an ESPN role this time.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

2. Malcolm Gladwell goes on weird tangent about the dominance of a Nigerian basketball team comprised of players not actually from Nigeria: Gladwell’s regular appearances on Bill Simmons’ podcast have produced a lot of strange things over the years, but this is up there. In a long monologue about a Nigerian basketball team, he said he’s always valued Nigerians because one of his father’s grad students was from there (“His first grad student that I remember, when I was six or seven, was a Nigerian. And then he had Indians, and Africans, basically for his entire career. So as a kid, you know how when you’re a kid your reality is defined by the world you live in, I thought smart people, the geniuses in the world, were all Nigerians and Indians!”), then argued that “black people in the West Indies came from Nigeria, or west Africa probably, so I think you can legitimately claim that anyone from the Caribbean belongs on the Nigerian team.”

This then led to Gladwell taking players like Klay Thompson (American, but his father is from the Bahamas), Joel Embiid (not Nigerian, but from neighboring Cameroon), and Steve Nash (from South Africa, “close to Nigeria,” in reality a 95-hour drive). Here’s the capper of the discussion between Simmons and Gladwell, as transcribed by Giri Nathan at Deadspin:

SIMMONS: Why don’t you just call it African? Why is it Nigerian?

GLADWELL: Well, because the heart, its heart is Nigerian.

SIMMONS: So it’s the capital.

GLADWELL: I mean this is really, this is about Nigerians owning the fact that they could put together the greatest basketball team of all time. I don’t think you can—try, just try and come up with a team that beats that, under my categories.

SIMMONS: So, part of this theory is you feel like Nigeria in general is underrated.

GLADWELL: Completely underrated.

SIMMONS: As an athletic powerhouse.

It must take 10,000 hours of bullshit practice to come up with bullshit like that.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

1. Cheddar’s Jon Steinberg says “I think traditional sports are dead. Nobody knows who won the World Series.” It’s a bold, bold claim for someone who runs a streaming service most people have never heard of to declare that “Traditional sports are dead,” but that’s what Cheddar founder and CEO Jon Steinberg did this week:

Here’s the article in question, a Media Post piece on the launch of “Cheddar Sports,” “a new hour-long program that will devote itself totally to the esports industry.” And here’s the full context of Steinberg’s remarks:

“I think traditional sports are dead,” says Cheddar founder and CEO Jon Steinberg,  “Nobody knows who won the World Series.”

But the crowd Steinberg’s talking about know all about “Fortnite,” “Call of Duty” and “Red Dead Redemption 2. “And so, when Cheddar Sports reports its news, exactly zero percent of it will be about what passes for sports news on ESPN.  

All of it will be about gaming. “That’s our beat. That’s our way to be our version of a new Fox, or a new NBC,” Steinberg says.

(There might be exceptions: On the first “Cheddar Sports” show, hosts couldn’t miss reporting that the NFL and Fortnite made a merchandise deal to sell NFL uniform “skins” that are part of the game.)

…For Logitech, the sponsorship results in no commercials. It gets its exposure from constant signage on the program, with hosts and presenters exclusively using Logitech products.

Steinberg compares the arrangement to an infomercial. He presented the idea to Bracken Darrell, the Logitech CEO. “Right away, he got it,” Steinberg says.

Congratulations on your infomercial, Jon. And hey, that helps explain why you’re so high on esports and so low on regular sports. And sure, esports are growing, and some of the top events pull in big audiences, especially around the globe. But for the record, while the World Series ratings were down this year (the third-lowest on record), the series as a whole still averaged an 8.3 rating and 14.13 million viewers on Fox alone, with the clinching Game 5 pulling a 10.0. And Steinberg’s claim isn’t just that “no one watched” (which is patently false), it’s that “nobody knows who won”; the numbers of people who know that the Red Sox won the World Series are dramatically larger given how much that result was mentioned even in passing by news outlets and on social media platforms.

And that number seems significantly larger than  the Cheddar audience; yes, they do a daily show from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and plenty of other videos, but it’s debatable how much attention they really get. Some of their tweeted segments really take off, but even despite a constant stream of promoted tweets, most of their tweets from the last week have less than 10 retweets. Sure, there are plenty of other platforms they’re on too, so the Twitter numbers aren’t the be-all and end-all, but this is still a company that many people have no idea exists. It’s a bold and hot take for its founder to declare traditional sports “dead” , and to say “Nobody knows who won the World Series.”

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Honorable mentions: A terrible blogger-bashing rebrand from the Dallas Morning News‘ sports site, Stan Fischler wondering if today’s NHL goalies could play in the pre-mask era, Jason McIntyre’s argument that the Jets should target Dabo Swinney.

Hot Take Standings: 

Jason Whitlock – Hall of Fame
Stephen A. Smith – 220
Skip Bayless – 194
Phil Mushnick – 164
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
Michael Wilbon – 12
John Middlekauff – 11
Michael DeCourcy – 11
Keith Olbermann – 11
Bill James – 10
Jason Smith – 10
Joe Simpson – 10
Bob Brookover – 10
Jeremy Roenick – 10
Berry Tramel – 10
Kristine Leahy – 10
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo  – 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
Damien Cox – 7
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
Jon Steinberg – 5
Bill Welt – 5
Jack Todd – 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
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
Malcolm Gladwell – 4
That’s Kappy – 4
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
Jim Brady  – 3
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.