Hey, Fred Segal, you forgot a few!
Like this, from May 30, 2009: “In two years will people make fun of Twitter as a fast-fading fad or will it be a long-term part of our cultural fabric? I know how I’d bet.”
And this, from July 12, 2009: “Been on vacation two weeks. Is the Twitter fad over yet?”
And this, from Oct. 30, 2009: “I still say Twitter is a fad. Someday soon, we all will look back and this stuff and laugh.”
Turns out the joke was on me, of course, and those old Twitter posts — including a typo in that third one — might have been a tad misguided.
I share them here because eventually Segal would have found them anyway, so why not get ahead of the curve?
Not that he is in danger of running out of material anytime soon. Segal, 34, is a South Florida lawyer who last autumn hit upon sure-fire Twitter gold: Unearthing hilariously misguided thoughts and re-sharing them with the world.
As his Twitter feed, “Freezing Cold Takes” (@OldTakesExposed) describes itself in its profile, the idea is “Funny tweets & other quotes of archived unprophetic & non-prognosticative takes from (mostly sports) media experts & others.”
Some are just too easy, as when on Saturday night he dredged up a classic “SportsCenter” post from 2009:
Stephen Curry declared for NBA Draft. Doug Gottlieb “He doesnt have the upside of Rubio. Jennings, Flynn, Mills, Teague all more athletic.”
Gottlieb is far from alone. Pro drafts and free agency are gold mines of wrongness.
And it’s not only social media that gets the cold takes treatment. How about this from a 1979 Associated Press story quoting Salt Lake Tribune sports editor John Mooney about the Jazz:
“If they are here three years from now, I’ll buy anybody a steak dinner. I think their first mistake was not changing the name. The Utah Jazz doesn’t mean anything. It’s a joke.”
We could go on, and on, and on. The beauty of modern technology is that it offers endless opportunities to share opinions publicly for anyone with an Internet connection or smart-device data plan. Alas, those opinions live forever.
So, please do dive into — and inevitably get lost in — Freezing Cold Takes and behold our collective cluelessness.
Back to Segal: How did this happen? It started as a lark for a sports fan who grew up in North Miami Beach with a fascination for the decades of inaccurate sports predictions he read in his father’s collection of old books and magazines.
He took to Twitter in November strictly as a hobby for a busy attorney in Coral Springs, Florida, with a wife and two young children.
In early January, ESPN New York Radio’s Michael Kay mentioned the Twitter account on the air, and it had 200 more followers by the end of the night.
“That was the point where I really felt like this had the potential to be a very popular feed,” Segal wrote in an email interview.
At that point, he had about 1,100 followers. By the time Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch wrote a story about him last Wednesday, he was up to 2,500 or so. By the end of the day Thursday that figure had risen to about 11,000.
ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike” morning show discussed the feed Friday morning, adding another 3,000 followers.
As of Tuesday morning, he was well over 16,000 and was picking his spots in accepting or turning down interviews because, well, he has a real job and a real family. (Chatting with Newsday piqued his interest in part because when you grow up in South Florida and attend the University of Florida, you end up with lot of Long Islanders as friends.)
“The beauty of Twitter is that you can take a break and jump on for just a few minutes and engage in a lot of activity, then get right back to work,” said Segal, who specializes in transactional and regulatory healthcare issues.
“With such a busy work and personal life, I would never be able to do something like this on any other medium.”
Segal’s friends and relatives find all this “hilarious” but he is keeping it in perspective.
“I don’t consider myself to be some sort of real celebrity,” he said. “It’s not like I am walking around wearing sunglasses inside and taking selfies with strangers.”
The reactions have been more mixed from the people whose cold takes have heated up the site. Most seem to have embraced the idea and been willing to poke fun at themselves, others less so.
“Many media members enjoy the feed,” Segal said. “Some interact with me. I’ve also noticed some real high-profile media personalities who have not interacted with me, but have followed.
“Andy Roddick made a positive tweet about the feed, and has retweeted some of my tweets. Danny Kanell likes the idea and spoke highly of the feed on the ‘Mike and Mike’ show.”
Early on, prominent media figures were more likely to block Segal on Twitter, perhaps, he said, “because the folks weren’t concerned about looking petty and thin-skinned because the reaction wouldn’t reach very many people.
“Now that the feed has 16,000 followers, many folks are a bit more cautious.”
These days, some media members voluntarily send Segal their cold takes so he can post them and they can “laugh about it with their followers.” (See me, above.)
Segal finds local sports radio personalities far less sensitive as a group than national writers about “getting zinged with a cold take.”
With the feed growing in popularity, Segal has been getting more and more outside suggestions, at least 10 to 15 per day. “I love it,” he said. “That’s my favorite part. Interacting with other average fans like me.”
As for his own research, Segal said it is a “myth” that he scrolls through hundreds of feeds to find old tweets. He said most of the time he simply recalls having previously seen or heard such takes.
“I have a very high explicit memory and remember opinions expressed by people dating back years,” he said. “These opinions are expressed either through the Internet, on TV, or in person.
“I also have become pretty skilled at searching topics on Twitter and finding tweets that way.”
Segal, who grew up a Dolphins fan, said his favorite cold take was a 1993 column by the Miami Herald’s Greg Cote suggesting the Dolphins trade Dan Marino and install Scott Mitchell as their franchise quarterback.
He also is fond of a 2011 Jason Whitlock column for Fox Sports after the Heat lost the 2011 NBA Finals to the Mavericks suggesting Miami abandon the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh experiment.
“It’s over,” Whitlock wrote. “Wade’s brainchild and Pat Riley’s free-agent coup is a failure. The right thing to do is to blow it up before it dies as a result of friendly fire.”
The Heat won NBA Championships in 2012 and 2013.
As for critics who say that if one looks long enough at the utterances of people who express opinions publicly, some clunkers are inevitable, Segal said:
“I’d say they are 100 percent right. But, to that end, it is not my intention to go to great lengths to make someone look incompetent. It’s really just to entertain people by poking fun at media and others.”
Mostly, he added, it is “harmless fun. I’m not trying to ruin anyone’s careers or viciously attack anyone. I do think some people in the media take themselves a bit too seriously.
“The way I see it, a person’s reaction to someone unearthing his or her bad prediction will define the person more than the prediction itself.”