TAKE-OLOGY 101: 8 BEST PRACTICES FOR PIPING HOT TAKERY

Many loyal readers of The Hot Takery have been asking me about what makes a take a really piping hot one. The answer is not as simple as you might think.

I tried to point out some of the nuances of hot takery in our post on Angelo Cataldi and how he hates Sam Hinkie because he doesn’t return his calls or something, but there really isn’t any comprehensive guide to what constitutes a truly hot take. Until now.

In order to promote the art that is hot takery and provide guidance for our budding hot takists, I present to you the eight best practices for piping hot takery.

1. Grabby, possibly misleading headlines

This is probably the most obvious of all the best practices, as it’s the first thing your readers will see. Injecting the hot take right into the headline will not only get you a ton of clicks, but also let people know that they definitely want to read the words underneath it.

Classic headlines like “Where are the critics of Nonis’ off-season moves now?,” “Sam Hinkie is arrogant, irresponsible,” and “Captain whine rips media” will undoubtedly land their takists in The Hot Takery hall of fame, so take note.

Strong headline writing is the backbone of any piping hot take, so practice is key. Just remember: the more outlandish, the better.

2. Factual inaccuracies

To really show your readers you mean business, it’s always good to sprinkle in a few factual errors in your takes. Being correct implies that you did research prior to serving up a take, which is a big no no in the hot take community.

A perfect example is Tim Panaccio’s recent article on how Flyers captain Claude Giroux should be publicly shamed. In the article, Panaccio noted that while the #buttgate incident happened in Ottawa, Giroux is from “nearby Hearst.” Had Timmy taken a few seconds to Google the actual location of Hearst, me may have found out that it’s, well, not so close:

 

This kind of factual inaccuracy adds a necessary spice to any take, and it’s often a key ingredient of the hottest ones.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you do decide to utilize the factual inaccuracy in your take, it’s very effective to repeat it incessantly. That way your readers fully understand that you will, under no circumstances, let facts stand in the way of your takery. Take this classic example of Stephen A. Smith arguing that the Chicago Blackhawks’ point streak in March 2013 was adulterated because hockey has “ties”:

If your utilization of factual inaccuracies gets you in hot water, just take a page from Master Hot Takist Steve Simmons‘ book and yell like a petulant child.

3. Make yourself the focus

Getting indignant in your takes is always a great way to make sure they get served piping hot, and there’s no better way of doing that than by making yourself the focus.

Did an athlete do something that you disagree with or offended you? There really is no reason to write about it in a logical, level-headed way. That athlete affected you personally, so it’s best to make sure that your take reflects that.

Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer pretty much wrote the book on this. His classic articles whining about how former Flyers captain Mike Richards didn’t like talking to a media that treated him like garbage are really quite amazing examples of hot takery. By doing this, Carchidi makes himself the center of attention, turning the scribe into the subject.

Making yourself the focus lets everyone know just how awesome you think you are. When utilized properly, it’s one of the best items in a hot takist’s toolkit.

4. No analysis allowed

 

This is the most important principle of hot takery. People don’t read the sports section to become bored by dry, reasoned analysis. They read it for the takes, and analyzing whatever sport you cover will make sure that they end up cold and brittle.

I would provide some examples here, but to be honest, there are just far too many. All the great hot takists of the world eschewed analysis decades ago, and you would be wise to not try and reverse this trend.

In fact, you should hate analysis so much that your hot takes focus on just how muchyou really hate them. This practice has made Steve Simmons (presumably) millions of dollars, so it’s kind of hard to call it silly.

And if, for whatever reason, you do decide to inject analysis into your takes, make sure you temper it with a heaping dose of factual inaccuracies.

5. Point to immeasurable, subjective concepts

Have a favorite player whose numbers just aren’t so hot? Don’t let that stop you from writing a take about him/her, but just make sure you point to plenty of nebulous concepts to make sure it comes out nice and hot.

This happens in hockey journalism all the time — the hot takists in a particular city latch onto one player who nerds like Tyler Dellow and Eric T. argue is useless, and in order to reinforce their points, they cite things like “heart,” “grit,” and “leadership.”

You should start doing this as soon as possible. That way, if someone disagrees with you, they can’t entirely disprove you. How do you quantify and compare the levels of these things? You just can’t.

And, to be completely honest, it’s a good way of convincing your readers that you’re right. Do fans like Jake Voracek because he scores goals? Hell no, but they do love Zac Rinaldo because he has a ton of heart. If you have any doubts about this, just take a look at any team’s Facebook page (a.k.a. the Realm of Hot Takes).

6. Blow everything out of proportion

 

The best hot takists realize that a reaction to a particular incident cannot treat it as an isolated and contained event. Everything you write about should be blown completely out of proportion and employ “slippery-slope” like arguments.

If a particular player was seen out on the town the night before a game, it’s probably the reason why they lost. Hell, if the team has any sense they’ll ship him out of town and make sure that the mayor publicly disavows him. This is a tactic that has been utilized by the Philadelphia hot takists, and it has undoubtedly led to some piping hot takes and helped shape their teams for the better.

If you ever find yourself thinking you might be taking things a little too far, don’t. Nothing can be blown out of proportion too much — not even if you suggest an entire country has no identity because they lost a soccer game. As with anything in life, it’s always good to think big when delivering hot takes.

7. You’re definitely right

Because hot takes are generally contentious and will face scrutiny from firemen trying to douse them with cold water, it’s important that you let your readers understand that you know you’re right. A good way to handle this is to approach your writing as if any disagreement with what you dish out is virtually impossible, especially if that’s not the case.

A good way of doing this is by presenting your case in short, pithy sentences. This lets readers know you are Very Serious, and won’t take kindly to criticism. If you can throw in a paragraph that is one sentence of three words or less, people will be effectively unable to criticize you.

It just works.

Another good practice to adopt is getting rid of indecisive words like “probably,” “maybe,” and “perhaps” from your lexicon. These are just avenues for firemen to enter to try and dismantle your take, and they’ll also cool it down a bit.

8. Je ne sais quoi

While I’ve tried my best to impart my knowledge of hot takery to you, it’s impossible for me to provide an exhaustive list of what makes a take truly hot. Remember, hot takery is an art with many nuances and opportunities for personal expression.

What I can say is that every great hot take has that little extra something that takes it to the next level. Finding the best way to do this can be hard, but there are some proven routes that you can experiment with.

Injecting moral outrage into a take usually does the trick, and if that doesn’t work, you can always posit absurd and unrealistic hypotheticals to get your point across. If you really need to make your point very clear, a tidy reference to Benghazi can really turn the heat up of any take to scorching hot.

Conclusion

I hope that this exercise has aided you in your journey to becoming a world class hot takist. Just remember that practice makes perfect, and when in doubt ask yourself: “what would Simmons do?”

Going forward, The Hot Takery will be using this lesson as a guide for our new take-o-meter. For each best practice a take exhibits, it will receive one Simmons on the take-o-meter, with the maximum set at 10. This method ensures that our assessments are as objective as possible.*

*The Hot Takery reserves the right to make totally arbitrary ratings not based on this method. 

LEBRON JAMES HAS RUINED BASKETBALL

It was fun while it lasted folks, but I regret to inform you that basketball has been completely ruined by LeBron James.

Don’t get mad at me, though — I’m just the messenger. The news of basketball’s demise at the hands of “King” James was originally reported by The Denver Post‘s Mark Kiszla in a tweet:

Now I know it might be hard to believe, but the take he linked to is even more scorching hot than the tweet. I won’t repost the whole thing here, but it really is worth a read, so go ahead and give it a click (WARNING: Please make sure your computer/phone is at the very least fire resistant before clicking through).

I mean look at how Kiszla starts this take:

The NBA has a problem. His name is LeBron James.

The league has sold its soul to the cult of King James.

Wow. Not just one extremely short paragraph, but two? In a row? Kiszla is obviously Very Serious and has many important words to write in this steaming hot take.

This take — which I file under the “Fuming Hot Stream Of Consciousness Takery” category — dips and dives in so many different directions that by the end, the reader can’t do anything but agree. It’s also executed brilliantly, positing multiple outlandish hypotheticals, allusions to popular culture, and is generally tempered with an overbearing sense of superiority.

Kiszla’s point in this take makes a lot of sense, too — everything comes to a halt when LeBron James is making a decision. And as a member of the media, Kiszla realized it was his duty to combat the laser-like focus on James by contributing 600 additional words to the already mountainous pile.

Meanwhile…

LeBron James really was quite a magnet for hot takery today. Take a look at this steamer from former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb:

McNabb was able to jam so much moral outrage and so many ad hominem attacks into this tiny (albeit searing hot) take, that I’m honestly stunned. It’s just so … sublime.

Kiszla and McNabb combined for some really aces LeBron-centric hot takery today, so I jointly award them five Simmons on the take-o-meter.

FIVESIMMONS

The Hot Takery Take-O-Meter is based on the “8 Best Practices for Piping Hot Takery”

IT’S TOUGH BEING A LAXBRO, BRO.

Sports apparel manufacturer Warrior really let the world know how they feel about silly girl sports on Twitter tonight, dishing out a piping hot take on how hard it is to be a laxbro.

Some type of stupid lacrosse event was happening tonight, and Warrior was sure as hell pissed that the dumb lady-people were getting more publicity than their laxbro brethren. Take a look at this super awesome take:

#TitleIXProblems, indeed.

Warrior makes a really good point here — there’s no way that softball is on ESPN1 because it’s more popular than lacrosse. No, this is a super deep conspiracy to promote the female athlete agenda (TM).

Congrats, Warrior, for providing the first sexist hot take this site has profiled.

UPDATE 2: Warrior has since deleted this piping hot take, but you can read the original text above or look at this screenshot courtesy of Jeff Kassouf. I guess they thought the world wasn’t ready for takes this hot.

UPDATE 1: It turns out the sexist takery runs deep with Warrior:

BERUBE DISHES OUT A SCORCHING HOT GOALTENDING TAKE

It seems that Philadelphia Flyers head coach Craig Berube is auditioning for a job at the Toronto Sun.

At least that’s the impression left by the scorching hot takes he dished out earlier this evening. Take a look at this take (but shield your eyes first, it’s glowing hot):

In case your memory is a bit jogged, Berube is ostensibly referring to this fight that occurred between Ray Emery and Washington Capital’s goaltender Brayden Holtby. Well, calling it a fight might be a bit of a stretch, considering Emery kind of jumped an unwilling opponent. Whatever, goalies that can’t and won’t fight suck anyway, so I’m not about to defend Holtby here.

Now, you and I both know that coaches are prone to saying silly things sometimes to appease the fanbase, but this isn’t one of those times. No, Berube actually believes that Emery helped the Flyers turn the season around, and he has every right to feel that way.

Think about it — that fight occurred on November 1. Before then, the Flyers had an awful record and just couldn’t get going. Well, you want to know what happened after that fight? That’s right, the Flyers coasted into the playoffs, courtesy of Mr. Emery and his ability to send his team a message. See, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Claude Giroux was in a slump or anything like that. It was all due to a lack of goalie fights, and Emery realized that.

Berube was just brave enough to say it, and we’re just happy it came in the form of a piping hot take.

BRAZIL IS LITERALLY IN SHAMBLES. LITERALLY.

We all knew that after Brazil lost to Germany in the World Cup, people were going to be dishing out some piping hot takes. Who knew it would happen so quickly, though?

Our latest installment of blowing things totally out of proportion is brought to you by Cathal Kelly, a writer for The Globe and Mail. Shortly after the Brazilian national team lost to Germany (in an admittedly devastating fashion), Kelly served us all this steaming hot take:

That tweet links to his piece on The Globe and Mail‘s website. And while I didn’t read it in it’s entirety, I can certify that it is indeed a piping hot take.

Why? Well, it’s really a textbook example of hot takery — take advantage of people’s emotions to deliver a take that is so out of proportion no one will even bother challenging you. Is the Brazilian soccer team doomed? I don’t know, but they just lost 7-1 to Germany mere hours ago so they probably are. Brazil is probably totally ashamed to be Brazil right now, you guys.

Are we overreacting? I don’t know, let’s just play on emotion for a bit.

It appears Kelly shorted analysis to go long on hot takery, and we commend him for that.

WHAT KANE AND TOEWS’ CONTRACT EXTENSIONS MEAN FOR CLAUDE GIROUX

Today, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane inked themselves some pretty hefty contract extensions, with each earning $10.5 million annually for the next eight years. Cue the hot takes.

If you thought I was about to showcase a take from a Chicago area writer, your heart is in the right place, but unfortunately, you’re wrong. Yes, it’s true, today’s hottest Kane-Toews extension take came from none other than the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi.

Obviously looking to generate some discussion in a relatively uneventful Flyers off-season, Carchidi used this opportunity to muse on what the contract extensions mean for Claude Giroux:

This, my friends, is such a subtle hot take that it almost goes completely unnoticed. But make no mistake — this one is piping hot. See, Carchidi pretty much implies that there was a point in time when Giroux’s contract was unacceptable.

And he makes a good point. What team in their right mind would pay a Hart Trophy finalist over $8 million per year — especially one that should probably be tradedbecause of buttgate?

Luckily for us, Kane and Toews make more money, and Carchidi was kind enough to let us know our outrage over the Giroux contract can be dialed back. Thanks, Sammy.

PIONEERS IN HOT TAKES: STEVE SIMMONS

When we were mulling over what #hot #content to feature on the site for launch day, it became clear that we probably needed to provide our readers with a primer on some of the people that are doing really great work in the piping hot take department. For our inaugural post, I can’t think of anybody better than The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons.

Simmons, like most hockey writers in Toronto, is a genius. I mean, just look at the guy. Standing proud, arms crossed, ready to serve up piping hot takes for anyone willing to listen. Make no mistake, this is a man on a mission. He even looks somewhat inviting with that (what I assume is an) attempted smile.

The thing that sets Simmons apart from his hot take compatriots is that his piping hot takes serve a greater social purpose. Simmons fancies himself a warrior in the battle against creeping nerdism in hockey (that is, the use of “advanced statistics” that aren’t so much “advanced” as they are unfamiliar). Indeed, this brave soldier thwarts any attempt to analyze hockey in any substantive way that deviates from pre-constructed narratives, and his weapon of choice is the piping hot take.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Simmons is that he doesn’t let pesky facts or truth get in the way of dishing out a piping hot take. Take this recent example, in which he lists a number of things that so-called “advanced statistics” in hockey can’t measure:

WHAT THE STATS DON’T TELL YOU
Why hockey doesn’t lend itself to statistical analysis the way other sports do:
There is no statistic to accurately quantify neutral-zone play.
There is no statistic that tell you which wingers gets the puck off the boards and out of their zone and which wingers do not.
There is no statistic that defines vision and creativity: That is pure subjectivity.
There is no statistic that measures play without the puck, a most important factor in most games.
There is no statistic, outside of individual team stats, that measures scoring chances which, again, is a subjective stat.
There is no statistic that separates a good dump-in from a bad dump-in. There is a difference, just as there is for a good line change and a bad one.
There is no statistic that indicates individual ability to win loose puck battles, especially in close games or the last minutes of periods or late in shifts.

Now don’t tell Steve, but pretty much every thing he listed actually can be measured by statistics that currently exist. And while the entire premise of that article is most likely made up, these facts are beside the point. Simmons, in trying to promote the social good of keeping people from understanding things better, had to stretch the truth a bit. And who cares? One of the principles of solid hot takery is to never let the truth stand in the way of dishing out a piping hot take.

You might be asking, “well, doesn’t stretching the truth leave him vulnerable to criticism?” I’m glad you brought that up, thanks, great question.

See, what makes Simmons a true pioneer of hot takes is that when some nerd confronts him with the truth, he doubles down. Listen to this recent exchange between Steve and probable basement dweller Tyler Dellow. When Dellow brings up that Mikhail Grabovski is an objectively better player than Dave Bolland, Simmons confronts him with shouting, straw men, and ad hominem attacks.

A true piping hot take pioneer does this when he’s wrong. Luckily for Steve, he’s wrong so often that he’s gotten plenty of practice and has pretty much mastered it.

(side note: both Bolland and Grabovski recently signed multi-year contracts, and Bolland gets paid more per year. Who’s the better player now, Dellow? You tried to get Steve to admit something false – Steve would never ever say that Grabovski is even worthy of playing in the NHL.)

Besides his tenuous grasp on truth and facts, Simmons’ also solidifies himself as a true pioneer in hot takes for his ability to make premature judgments that are almost always proven wrong.

See, a true hot take artist doesn’t wait for things to “pan out” or for “all the evidence to be presented” to serve up a piping hot take. Hell, sometimes the demand for hot takes is so strong (we have seen lines around the block here at The Hot Takery) that you can’t even spend time asking yourself “does this hot take sound like it was created  by someone with the the typical mental faculties of an adult male?” Simmons knows and practices all this, which makes him such a valuable member of the hot take community.

Take this piping hot example, in which Simmons asks, “Where are the critics of [Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Dave] Nonis’ off-season moves now?” on the twelfth day of the 2013-2014 NHL season. Simmons doesn’t need stupid stuff like time and evidence to hold him back from dishing up a piping hot take — the six games that the Maple Leafs had played up to that point were more than enough for him to deem Nonis’ off-season transactions a success. Nevermind that the newly acquired Dave Bolland would be limited to just 23 games, and that David Clarkson would regress to the point where his contract is pretty much a cruel joke. Those things weren’t true when Simmons wrote that piece, so you can’t really fault the guy.

And let’s not forget the now-infamous “Corsi Hockey League” tweet, in which our brave soldier boldly predicted that the Toronto Maple Leafs were doing just fine despite what nerds with calculators were saying. Of course, the Leafs ended up missing the playoffs due to a plummeting drop in PDO, but they were doing just fine on October 29. Steve was the only one out there with the cojones to say it, and that’s an attribute of a true hot take master.

So here’s to you, Steve Simmons. Your penchant for ignoring facts and shoddy analysis places you squarely in the hall of fame here at The Hot Takery. May your takes continue to be piping hot.

TIM PANACCIO: LET’S TRADE CLAUDE GIROUX

This weekend, Comcast SportsNet’s Tim Panaccio practiced the dark arts of hot takery, suggesting that the Philadelphia Flyers should trade Claude Giroux.

In a post on noted piping hot take website HockeyBuzz, Panaccio expressed outrage at the Flyers captain, who was arrested on July 1 for grabbing a cop’s butt (an incident known widely as “buttgate”). Panaccio really made sure this take was piping hot. Seriously, look at this:

Pinching a cop’s butt may be funny and lead to all kinds of double entendres, but this is not what the Flyers need right now.

Obviously, Giroux was misguided in hit butt grabbage — and he admitted as much — but Timmy is totally right here. The right thing for the Philadelphia media to do in this circumstance is to blow it totally out of proportion. That’s what hot takery is all about.

And in case you were wondering whether or not Panaccio was suggesting that the Flyers try to trade Giroux, fear not. The noted hot takist later took to twitter to provide some clarity:

 

Travis Hughes over at Broad Street Hockey tried to stop this piping hot wildfire from spreading (in a take-by-take fashion), but the damage had been done.

Kudos to Panaccio for filling the internet with a steaming pile of words.

NOTHING BAD EVER HAPPENS DURING NHL FREE AGENCY

It’s summer, which is generally accepted as “silly season” for the NHL and NBA — that is, when teams try to woo the piping hottest free agents on the market and inevitably end up doing stupid crap.

Not so fast, says USA Today’s Mark Whicker. It seems we’ve all been mistaken about how NHL free agency can get ridiculous. Nope, all the silliness goes to the NBA.

But don’t take my word for it. Read the words of the budding hot takist yourslf:

Players understand there are no significant salary-cap exemptions in the NHL. They sign long extensions to make sure they aren’t frozen out. The top free agent on this year’s market was Paul Stastny, who signed a four-year, no-drama, $28 million deal with St. Louis.

Notice how Whicker doesn’t provide anything to substantiate the claim that Stastny’s extension is a “no-drama” deal. No comparables, no analysis of the contract, just words. Steaming hot words. This, my friends, is aces hot takery.

And if you don’t think about it too long, Whicker makes a bunch of sense here. Barring Dave Bolland getting far overpaid by the Florida Panthers, Brad Richards getting bought out only a few years into a multi-year deal, and the Flyers’ trying to ship out Vincent Lecavalier to pretty much anyone, this offseason has been a shining example of how NHL teams never make moves that they later regret.

I mean, in the NBA you have the LeBron Jameses of the world teasing every team they can, which would never happen in the NHL. And even if it did, that guy would never end up being a dud and getting bought out soon after signing a really bad deal. But I digress.

Here’s to you, Mark Whicker, for putting words on the internet. We at The Hot Takery welcome you with open arms.

ANTHONY SANFILIPPO: ENEMY OF THE HOT TAKE

Former Flyers Insider blogger Anthony San Filippo tried to pour a bucket of cold water over the piping hot takists, solidifying himself and an enemy of hot takes and The Hot Takery at large.

SanFilippo, who used to provide us with piping hot takes about how Zac Rinaldo is great because he draws penalties or something, took to Twitter yesterday afternoon to express his dismay at Tim Panaccio’s piping hot suggestion that the Flyers trade captain Claude Giroux because of buttgate.

In case you haven’t kept up with the hot takes, SanFilippo is referring to Broad Street Hockey’s Travis Hughes’ hatchet job on Panaccio’s piping hot takes. To see a former beat writer try to douse a hot take is truly shocking, to say the least.

But that wasn’t enough for our misguided fireman. SanFilippo doubled down shortly thereafter, insulting pretty much the entire hot take community.

Et tu, SanFilippo? I don’t know what is up with this guy, but he seems to have decided to employ logic and rational thought when delivering his takes (which are, for the record, ice cold).

I know SanFilippo is a free agent right now, but he’s never going to get his dream job as Steve Simmons’ editorial assistant with this attitude.