Truth In Sandwich Advertising, With Rohan Nadkarni

It is for the best that podcasting is not a visual medium, and the filmed podcasts that pad out the dayside on sports television and crop up in stilted little clips on social media are proof of this. Listening to your podcast buddies riff and fulminate and say a bunch of stuff that they’d probably not otherwise put under in print their byline is fun, although you should probably wear headphones; watching a cranberry-complexioned Pat McAfee heave damply between exclamations while A.J. Hawk does his singularly NPC-scented thing in an adjacent window is a notably more shameful experience. I mention all this for two reasons. One is to confirm that when our guest Rohan Nadkarni pointed out that Drew was really close to his computer’s camera early in the episode, he really was. The other is to note that, later in the episode, when Rohan said that the famous Mexican chef and unfortunate sports media sibling Rick Bayless could “eat [his] shorts,” his face was perfectly calm. He really meant it.

A lot of ground got covered between those two moments, per the usual. Rohan, like dozens of other talented people, is still in employment purgatory at Sports Illustrated while its deeply dispiriting and wildly overcomplicated ownership situation sorts itself out. As Rohan notes, the site and magazine is still posting good stories like Steph Apstein on those diaphanous baseball uniforms and what they say about the present state of the sport, and Chris Mannix on Damian Lillard’s lonesome and fraught transition in Milwaukee. But, as he also notes, he and the rest of the union is in a difficult spot—eager to get to work and stay there, hopeful about being a part of Sports Illustrated‘s future, and frustrated by the completely extraneous obstacles thrown in their way. This led Drew and I to do one of our classic Making It About Us maneuvers, as we talked about our somewhat different perspectives on the end of our Deadspin experience and the abstraction of trying to negotiate, as a union, with owners who do not respect or care about what you do, or even want to be in the same business. There’s a brief sighting of Jacobin Drew, and a few words on solidarity, and then, blessedly for Rohan and perhaps listeners alike, it was time for sports.

It had been a minute, honestly, as our last few episodes had focused mostly on expressing our profound misgivings about basically everything currently happening in the world. So a spirited round of NBA chat seemed like it would be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, there is no way to talk about the NBA right now without talking about how incredibly good the Boston Celtics have been all season long. We strategized on ways to live with that—they are kind of a fun watch, distaste for their broader thing aside; there is the possibility that hyping them up enough that anything short of a championship would read as a disappointment, which could be fun; Rohan appreciated the preemptive cope of the Boston sports media industrial complex. But at some point, with a team that could beat down the Warriors the way the Celtics did and have it somehow be representative, all you can really do is tip your cap.

So we did that, and served up a round of cap-tips around the rest of the league, from the Nuggets to the daringly constructed and ascendant Wolves and Thunder, and to a somehow slower-than-ever Kyle Anderson, whose play Rohan memorably described as “like stirring a jar of tahini.” The basketball chat wound down from there, if not before Rohan aired an esoteric beef with Caitlin Clark driven entirely by grumpy Northwestern bias. We talked a bit about the Russell Wilson endgame in Denver, mulled the worst trades in NFL history, and Drew and Rohan griped about their teams’ respective quarterback situations, and then finally turned to the Funbag.

Which, ordinarily, is a sign that the podcast is winding down. On Rohan episodes, though, this is more or less when things get started. And so it was here, as a pair of very good questions—one was about songs ruined by having appeared in commercials, and another about which pairs of siblings have been most accomplished in wildly divergent fields of endeavor—sent us off on a super-sized nonsense session. We sang jingles that stuck in our childhood brains; I imitated the guitar riff from Van Halen’s “Beautiful Girls”; we groused about the omnipresence of Jake from State Farm in basketball spaces; Rohan spoke his spicy truth about Rick Bayless and I spoke my less-spicy one about how happy I am to encounter a Potbelly sandwich shop in an airport. We closed with Rohan’s father’s longstanding vendetta against a local Subway franchise, and Subway in general. I could tell you how we got from one to the next, I think, but it’s probably better if I don’t.

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