Hot Take

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the worst take in sports history

July 3, 2019
New York Yankees
The Stanley Weston ArchiveNEW YORK, NY - JULY 4: Lou Gehrig #4 of the New York Yankees is shown before the mic delivering his farewell speech on Lou Gehrig Day on July 4, 1939 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. (Photo by Stanley Weston/Getty Images)

The nonsense that's daily emitted from the likes of Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless may seem fit for a diaper. But that garbage is discarded tissue paper compared to the Pacific trash vortex that was this take down of Lou Gehrig.

On, um, Lou Gehrig Day.

It was 80 years ago that the "Iron Horse" said farewell as a mystery illness was rapidly siphoning his vitality, a disease so rare that it came to bear his name. Between a doubleheader against the Washington Senators, Gehrig gave what's known as "baseball's Gettysburg Address" to a sold-out Yankee Stadium.

According to the New York Times, the moment was "one of the most touching scenes ever witnessed on a ball field." Gehrig was shaken, wiping tears from his face. The crowd chanted "We love you." Babe Ruth, who had a somewhat acrimonious relationship with Gehrig throughout their careers, came over to deliver a hug.

And a sequence far from the mind of UPI writer Jack Cuddy.

The day before Gehrig's celebration, Cuddy wrote the hottest of hot takes, which have thankfully been archived so they can warm us in the future.

Off the jump:

The whole business seems goofy and uncalled for to me. I see no reason for pulling a pall over a holiday when everyone should be having lot of fun and peanuts, popcorn, crackerjack and hotdogs. Particularly I see no reason for pulling this Yankee publicity stunt about Gehrig, who is the last man in the world who would go for it unless the Yankee brass hats and New York baseball writers snaffled him and forced him into it.

Gehrig knows -- and so should everyone else connected with baseball -- that the 36-year-old first baseman of the Yanks was through with top-flight play, just as soon as he showed up at the Yanks' training camp at St. Pete. But because Lou was the iron horse, the man who had written into the records that all-time mark of 2,130 consecutive championship games, his fade-out had to be different from that of the ordinary player.

Accordingly Gehrig was sent to a nationally known Center of Health Investigation, to see what was wrong with him. I'll guarantee that if 90 percent of the men, women and children in America were sent to that particular spot, we would learn that each and all had something wrong with them -- even if it were only halitosis, athlete's foot, warts or B.O.

Woah, not great! Even Reddit is like, "Dude."

But don't worry, it gets better. And by better, we mean worse:

I've forgotten exactly what they said was wrong with Gehrig. Oh, yes! I do recall that the first hospital report indicated infantile paralysis of a very vague breed. But later the experts explained it wasn't infantile paralysis at all. It was something else. The ailment had one of those high-falutin' names that only people with plenty of dough or prestige can have.

Personally, I don't care what Gehrig has got. But I'd like to exchange my body for his during the next 40 or 50 years, let us say. And I'm pretty sure I'd do all right regardless of the experts' argument over the Latin or Greek declensions of what Laruping Lou may or may not have.

It seems to me that Gehrig was merely getting too old to play hell-for-leather baseball and that the scientists of ailments or advertising gave him a graceful exit.

(Slaps forehead)

Maybe he was trying to get fired? Had to be, right? Or at least that was the goal of his editor? It's one thing that a grown man had the audacity to compose this crap. That another, higher-ranking man read this and thought, "Yep, this will work," shows our society was crumbling well before this millennium.

Here's the kicker:

But what really brings water to my eyes on this particular Fourth of July is the plight of Monty Stratton, a lad who was right in his prime -- only 25 years old -- a lad who never had the chance to amass the fortune that must be Gehrig's.

Gehrig -- too old for championship baseball -- will be out there tomorrow with his mysterious ailment able to get about as actively as anyone of his piano-legged build should at 36. But poor Monty Stratton is hobbling about the coaches' box of the Chicago White Sox with an artificial leg clinking about where his own right leg should be.

There is no question about what happened to Stratton. He shot himself himself in the leg accidentally while hunting down Texas way last Novermber. And the right leg had to be amputated at the knee. At the time this accident happened, Stratton stood out as one of the best right-handed flingers in the American league. They gave him a "Stratton Day" in Chicago this season, and he got about twenty grand out of it about the same as his salary for a year.

Gehrig has been named non-playing captain for the All-Star inter-league game at Yankee stadium a week from Tuesday along with tomorrow's "Gehrig Day." But it seems to me that poor Monty Stratton, could have been appointed batting practice pitcher at least for the All-Star game. And if we've got to shed tears tomorrow for some afflicted ball player, let's give them off for poor Monty, instead of for Lucky Lou.

Imagine having more sympathy for a dumb-dumb who shot himself on a hunting trip than a model citizen visibly decaying to an unknown sickness. That is a special kind of stupid.

So the next time a talking head's jabber makes you shake your head in shame, take solace that, as bad as it may be, there's no chance it comes close to touching Jack ******* Cuddy.

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