THE SITUATIONAL: Become Ungovernable

By Ramzy Nasrallah on October 11, 2023 at 1:15 pm
JTT x Sonny Styles

Been thinking about Randy Johnson and Urban Meyer a lot lately.

Not individually - Randy Johnson and Urban Meyer, together. Two obscure baseball teenagers passing each other like ships in the night 40 years ago during the MLB Draft.

Baseball drafts have like a million rounds and don't hold the appeal the NFL and NBA supply chain spectacles do, at least for sated attention spans like mine. Only recently have I realized the fine wine that is the MLB Draft.

It's undrinkable until it sits in a barrel for at least a decade, and 1982 MLB is without peer - basically a 1950 Château Lafleur. The first pick went to the historically abysmal Chicago Cubs, who took Shawon Dunston. Held down short at Wrigley for a decade. Solid player, fan favorite.

urban wearing blue, what the hell man
Braves Gulf Coast League SS Urban Meyer, 1982.

Other 1st rounders included Doc Gooden - the most 1980s baseball player ever - Ron Karkovice and David Wells. Future cyborg Barry Bonds, eternal cyborg Bo Jackson and Michigan Man Barry Larkin went in the 2nd round. Legends. But all MLB Drafts are boring up top. The real spice is the sediment at the bottom of the barrel.

In 1982 this sludge included 818th pick Dave Martinez, who pitched in the bigs 15 years and currently manages the Washington Nationals. Kenny "not that Kenny" Rogers (815th) played two full decades and threw one of MLB's 24 perfect games. About 780 inferior players were taken ahead of him.

And nearly 500 picks earlier, Urban was taken by the Braves at 322nd, joining Johnson in Atlanta's draft class. They were colleagues for a minute. Urban played a couple of years before landing on Earle Bruce's football staff in Columbus with Jim Tressel.

Johnson never signed with the Braves. He went to college instead, playing at Southern Cal with Mark McGwire (drafted by the Expos, didn't sign) Jack Del Rio (yeah the football guy - Blue Jays, didn't sign) and Rodney Peete (ditto, ditto).

Wow so how many Pac 10 titles did those guys win dear reader, USC did not win a single conference title in baseball during the 1980s - arguably the program's worst decade ever. You simply can't apply a value to how much fun those guys must have had instead of winning. Baseball games are interchangeable; legendary college bangers are irreplaceable.

And speaking as a native Ohioan and Midwest caricature - no one gives a shit about college baseball titles anyway. Those players were just wasting time before accumulating generational wealth, which is what college is for anyway.

The point is Randy Johnson and Urban Meyer were both Atlanta Braves for a day, and that's a sentence I only recently discovered was true. Kind of like Ohio State-Purdue is streaming exclusively on Peacock.

Young readers, you can expect a frantic phone call from at least one confused older relative this Saturday at oh around 11:55am. Be prepared. Let's get Situational.


Oct. 7, 2023; Columbus, Oh., USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord (6) is tackled by Maryland Terrapins linebacker Kellan Wyatt (45) during the first half of Saturday's NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium.
Kyle McCord is tackled by Maryland LB Kellan Wyatt Saturday's game at Ohio Stadium. ©Barbara J. Perenic/The Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

You don't need All-22 film or a C-Deck seat to see Ohio State's rushing offense is clunky. The sum of the parts along the offensive line is not a sum at all - this group hasn't quite figured out how to operate as a unit yet.

They're all very good at being large. Blocking is fine art, requiring more than just size.

The Buckeyes have had trouble running the ball consistently going back to 2017, with a handful of exceptions - the entire 2019 season with JK Dobbins, the end of the abbreviated 2020 campaign with Trey Sermon and a handful of 2021 green shoots. Otherwise it's looked a lot like what you've been seeing through five games.

Last year was rough on the ground and this year is already worse. The reason fans are angsty is Ohio State enters Game Six with its bye week spent and no sign of gelling with an historically spooky road trip this weekend and a formidable visitor coming up right after that.


This offensive line is presently OSU's weakest edition since 2004. Future Hall of Famer Nick Mangold was center, flanked by sophomore Doug Datish and former walk-on Mike Kne. Tackles were junior Rob Sims and freshman Kirk Barton. That unit was managed by Jim Bollman, which means those guys were each other's backups. Good times.

It was rough for awhile - that team lost three in a row coming off a bye week and appeared to get worse as the season reached its halfway point. Neutron Man literally died during their skid. The 2023 unit has shown bad posture, worse form, no real anger and a penchant for only being able to block the guys directly in front of them, sometimes. Linebackers are feasting on Buckeye running backs.

And that's all been amplified by play calling. Obnoxious self-reference warning:

If you haven't solved the puzzle yet, Ohio State's offense favors the right side of its flimsy offensive line. This generally sends the game to the right side of the field, places the ball on the right hash and produces stretch plays almost exclusively to the short side. It should set up play-action to the field side, but they don' it that often?

It's the play calling equivalent of Charlie Brown holding the ball for Charlie Brown to kick. Ask your older relative who calls you Saturday morning about getting Peacock to explain this reference if necessary.

so much space for activities!
Running to the Field > Running to the Boundary

This high drag coefficient play calling makes the O-line look worse than it is. It comforts Ohio State's opponents and nourishes their confidence. If you inhale a big hit of copium and think ah ha ha, the Buckeyes are simply lulling Penn State and Michigan into a false sense of security that might be relaxing for one minute.

Unfortunately dementia has not robbed you of last year's memories yet - this is not a rope-a-dope. This is who they are and what they've chosen - a weekly, misguided exercise in futility and misguided geometry. This offensive line in its current condition represents a team which will finish third in the East Division if there's no improvement in performance or change in strategy.

Barry Sanders was in the stadium on Saturday. He was the type of slippery jump-cutter who could survive this type of line. He's out of eligibility. Barry Sanders in his prime could make this work is the reddest flag I think I've ever typed about an Ohio State unit. Fortunately we'll be talking about bourbon in a moment.

Penn State and Michigan have the two best FBS defenses by a significant margin. The Buckeyes have no choice but to solve this with haste. Stubborn isn't a winning strategy.


The Solo

CONTENT NOTE: This season Situational enthusiasts are controlling the Intermission jukebox, and as is the case in your local tavern - nobody knows who's choosing the songs. You have the right to get mad. If this goes off the rails, good.

Take On Me is the greatest music video ever created or produced. Arguing this is futile

The combination of elements is without peer: Timeless one-hit-wonderment. Special effects inexplicably superior to every major motion picture of that decade. A complicated love story elegantly told through sketch drawings and campy g-list acting. It is the only perfect video. Category of one. Every other video competes for No.2.

A few years ago a-ha re-recorded their business card and meal ticket in an unplugged session which transformed their frenetic new wave synth-pop anthem into a slow, haunting and almost creep ballad.

The eponymous version features a synth solo, but unplugged is a lethal affliction for synthesizer participation. Let's answer our two questions.

Is the soloist in this video actually playing the piano?

I need to shout SHUT UP NERD up front before a former trumpet player from TBDITL C-Row texts me to say actually it's a riff not a solo. He's right, but accuracy has never been the point of this intermission or any other intermission. This is a time to chill, and in this case - listen to sweet, dripping piano sadness.

It's Mags Furuholmen, a-ha's OG keyboard player and song co-writer. VERDICT: Yes

Does this piano solo slap?

[camera pans to audience openly weeping during solo] yeah we're done here. VERDICT: Slaps

hey kids looks what's back in stock in all sizes

The Bourbon

There is a bourbon for every situation. Sometimes the spirits and the events overlap, which means that where bourbon is concerned there can be more than one worthy choice.

Panty melter. You're welcome.
Smoke Wagon. Gambler's juice.

Ohio State's stubborn rushing strategy is reminiscent of the classic degenerate gambler parked at a Blackjack table absolutely determined to break his losing streak and win a hand his way (e.g. hitting on 17) or die bankrupt.

In completely unshocking news, there's a bourbon for that. Smoke Wagon is a high-rye Vegas blend finished in #4 charred barrels, caramelized wood sugar. That sounds sexy but it's unadulterated marketing, pure Vegas.

I'm not an arborist or a pyromaniac but this is what happens to wood when you burn it to aid in brown liquor production. Since Vegas is utterly hilarious, Smoke Wagon is prohibited from tours and tastings due to some weird permitting rule so I'll be unable to ask them about their wood when I'm back in town later this month.

Despite its Vegas HQ, MGP handles all production - think about the impact desert heat would have on evaporation vs. doing it in Lawrenceburg, IN. If you enjoy toasty, syrupy whiskey then you'll love Smoke Wagon's nose and viscous palate. It's named for a gun, but the flavor fits the name on the label.

Smoke Wagon finishes with the rye bite you'd expect, plus hints of that caramel. If you're new to bourbon this is a pretty good first-bougie entry into what exploring the category beyond the second shelf. Ironically, it's a safe bet.


davon hamilton is a gymnast
Davon Hamilton's attempted punt block in 2018 did not go the way he intended it to.

The List is real. This List is no fluke. The List does not discriminate. The threat is real.

When we last saw Ross Ade Stadium, the eventual Rose Bowl victors were 13.5-point favorites and lost by 29. In 2011, the visitors were favored by a touchdown and lost in overtime. And the 2009 Boilermakers were on a five-game slide when they put the eventual conference champions and Rose Bowl winners in a trash can.

Championship aspirations, rebuilding years and everything in-between is susceptible to Purdue students storming the field when Ohio State visits Purdue. That's the trend.

The Buckeyes are just 3-5 at Purdue since 1999, favored every time. This record would be 2-6 if this play didn't exist - no other B1G opponent comes close to what the Boilermakers have consistently done to the Buckeyes. 

If Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor, Braxton Miller and Dwayne Haskins CAN LOSE TO PURDUE, SO CAN KYLE MCCORD.

The List has no rationale. West Lafayette swallows the best and worst Columbus has to offer.

If Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor, Braxton Miller and Dwayne Haskins can end up on the losing end against wobbly Purdue teams, you had better believe Kyle McCord can join them in the pantheon of infinite sadness. This should be a high alert game, and it doesn't seem to be getting that treatment.

I get Purdue is broken and bad. That has never mattered. It's the air up there.

The Buckeyes don't need everything to go wrong to lose on Saturday, but giving opponents unwarranted confidence seems to be their bad habit. Purdue is young and has a new coach - this is rancid upset brew, especially with Penn State up next week and a trip to Madison after that.

Purdue's inexperience and mediocrity matter far less than Ohio State's history in that building. This is the toughest three-game stretch of the regular season schedule, and while the OSU defense has been excellent its offense seems to spend a half toiling in the danger zone. This would be a nice opportunity to break that trend.

This matchup always stinks. The List is real. The List is merciless. The List must be destroyed.

Thanks for getting Situational today. Go Bucks. Beat Purdue.

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