A Twitter account that holds pundits accountable for takes gone wrong is rapidly growing into a mini-media empire dubbed “Freezing Cold Takes” that has grabbed the attention of the sports industry.
Attorney Fred “Frizz” Segal launched @OldTakesExposed less than two years ago and has amassed over 78,000 followers, many of whom are influencers in the media industry. He now has a website and podcast to go along with the Twitter account that he started as a hobby to point out when hot takes turn cold. Segal simply searches Twitter for predictions gone wrong, takes a screen grab and posts it with a humorous or snarky comment.
The website features headlines such as “Here are ESPN’s The Magazine’s 10 most regrettable covers ever,” “Some proclamations from July that the Warriors would not win the championship with Durant” and a collection of pundits saying the upcoming Floyd Mayweather- Conor McGregor fight “will never happen.”
Another enlightening post recalls “At this time a year ago, some people thought the eventual-world champion Chicago Cubs were doomed.”
“Freezing Cold Takes filled a niche that was being done in piecemeal by others but wasn’t in one place. It’s such a simple idea, and makes so much sense, which is why so many have gravitated to that account,” ESPN sports business analyst Darren Rovell told TheWrap.
Segal was an “avid Twitter user” who got most of his political and sports news from the platform. Around Thanksgiving 2015 he noticed that journalists and television personalities “pat themselves on the back” when they’re correct, but ignore predictions when they turn out to be wrong.
“I have a good memory … I always remember when they get it wrong. I just decided one day, ‘I’m going to start something where I just post all their wrong predictions,” Segal told TheWrap. “I didn’t think anything of it.”
Segal was quickly noticed by local radio show hosts, who offered the new account some free publicity. It only had 2,500 followers in February 2016 when Sports Illustrated published an article about it.
“That’s when it took off … it just kept growing,” he said. “It’s become a big thing, in terms of Twitter. In the sports Twitter world, it’s become something that people know of.”
The account gained roughly 12,000 followers as a result of the Sports Illustrated piece and Segal was eventually mentioned on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike,” which added a few thousand additional followers. Segal has since appeared on the NFL Network and been featured in a variety of publications.
“I’m kind of enjoying the ride,” he said.
A quick glance at his feed features misleading or premature ESPN news alerts, a three-year old tweet noting that NBA analyst Jay Williams once preferred now-mediocre Chandler Parsons over superstar James Harden, and even decades-old newspaper columns that didn’t particularly age well.
In an era where highlights and news are accessible on mobile devices, the sports media industry has become obsessed with “takes.” ESPN has “First Take,” Barstool Sports’ signature podcast is “Pardon My Take” and Fox Sports 1 has done everything in its power to lure personalities who specialize in hot takes, namely former “First Take” co-host Skip Bayless. ESPN’s “The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz” has even rebranded an hour of its program as “Wake and Take.”
Segal said he “feels bad” that media members who strive to deliver original reporting are being replaced by commentators who say whatever it takes to stir the pot.
“People who work hard in journalism, and they’ve gone through a path and are good at their craft are getting laid off. There is less and less of a demand for it,” he said. “People want to be entertained quickly … now, all these shows where people give hot takes are the type of things that people want to watch or listen to.”
Segal thinks in the era of social media and the modern “hot-take culture,” it is inevitable that the trend will continue — which is good news for his brand. While many media members are fans of the account, there are plenty of pundits who don’t appreciate being held accountable.
“I’ve had one guy threaten to block anyone who mentions me,” Segal said. “I suspect the most annoying thing for reporters is that anytime they make a prediction or give a take, 15 people will tag me. They’ll post a reply and just tag me.”
Segal has been blocked by plenty of media members who don’t want him to find their inaccurate predictions. However, he has noticed several pundits re-follow and unblock him as the account gains notoriety. One of the people is ESPN baseball writer Keith Law, who recently explained his decision on the “Freezing Cold Takes” podcast.
Segal is still a practicing attorney in South Florida and runs the Twitter account on the side. He credits being “really good” at searching for takes gone wrong on social media but admits his followers do a lot of the work. Whenever a “hot take” turns cold, hundred of followers typically tag Segal in a response, which alerts him to the pundit’s mishap.
Segal, who specializes in transactional and regulatory healthcare issues, calls his budding brand “a hobby that took off” but doesn’t plan to stop practicing law anytime soon.
“I would be able to produce a significantly more amount of content if I wasn’t working [as a lawyer],” he said. “That’s the way it is… what I have to do.”
Segal partnered with TheComeback.com for the website version of his Twitter handle, where a team of writers helps deliver the message he conveys on the original @OldTakesExposed, while he continues to run the social media account himself.
Segal is on pace to surpass 100,000 followers before the end of the year and the industry’s most prominent personalties are wary to predict anything except success for “Freezing Cold Takes.”
“I would offer up a prediction about how the account is doomed, but I know it would be held up against me years from now when the site keeps crushing it and people,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter told TheWrap.