In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
- Mason Plumlee had 21 points and 15 boards to lead no. 1 Duke to a 76-54 win over Elon on the same day that the nation's no. 2 high school recruit, Jabari Parker, committed to the Blue Devils. Parker is a Mormon, and sources report that his choice has given Mitt Romney a sliver of hope that someone else might take over the "Mormon Devil" nickname. Unfortunately, because Parker is a 6-foot-8 post player, it has already been confirmed that his nickname will be "The Hook of Mormon."
- Kevin Love had 28 points, 11 boards, and seven assists as the Timberwolves ended the Thunder's 12-game winning streak with a 99-93 victory. "What is this, Valentine's Day? Because there's a whole lot of Love going around!" said Love, drawing huge laughs from teammates too terrified of his famous rage to mention that he says the same thing after every game.
- No. 2 Michigan maintained its undefeated record in style, using 17 points and seven assists from Tim Hardaway Jr. to rout Eastern Michigan, 93-54. Upon hearing that the Wolverines had already beat Western and Eastern Michigan this season, the universities of Northern and Southern Michigan discussed forming a desperate alliance before ultimately fleeing to Ohio.
- LeBron James scored 24 points and pulled down nine boards as the Heat topped the Mavericks, 110-95, in a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals. "Um, Dirk," began Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, "I'm starting to think that maybe the austerity measures aren't working, and …" "SHUTTEN ZEE MOUTH!" interrupted Nowitzki, who was trying to focus on his latest fan letter to Angela Merkel.
- Another slow night in the NHL finished with zero goals scored.
- According to a CBS report, the NCAA has fired Abigail Grantstein, the lead investigator in the Shabazz Muhammad eligibility probe. The move may stem from an incident when her boyfriend was overheard discussing the case on an airplane. "HOW DARE YOU TELL ME I'VE HAD ENOUGH PEANUTS!" he allegedly screamed at a flight attendant. "I AM AN IMPORTANT MAN! MY WIFE IS INVESTIGATING SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD! LOOK, I WILL TELL YOU EVERYTHING IF YOU JUST GIVE ME MORE PEANUTS!" The couple will be married next February.
- Steve Nash endured a full-contact practice for the first time since breaking his leg and told reporters he could return on Christmas Day against the Knicks. "Will he be gift-wrapped?" wondered Carmelo Anthony, in his diary. "That would be strange, but also wonderful."
- San Diego State was unable to defend its turf in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, losing to BYU, 23-6. "Boy, what a game! They ought to call these guys the Mormon Dev-" began Mitt Romney, before everyone yelled at him to shut up, and that it wasn't catching on.
- Sources report that free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski has agreed to a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers for an undisclosed amount. The deal will be finalized when Pierzynski passes a physical, which, in Arlington, consists of Nolan Ryan giving him noogies for an hour to make sure he's not "some dandified city slicker."
And with that, my friends, the Shane Ryan Era of About Last Night has come to an end. The franchise will live on, returning on Jan. 2 in very good hands, but my time as curator expires today. This is a bittersweet departure, but an amicable one. It's kind of like when they get a new actor for James Bond, except without even the slightest implication of good-looking people doing anything sexy. And hey, I'll still be around to write college hoops and other fun things, so catch me there.
Anyway, I wanted to say thank you for tuning in the past 18 months. The first About Last Night was published on June 20, 2011, under the title "The Weekend That Was," and we've been cracking wise ever since. I want to acknowledge you, the silent reader, because you are the engine of this humor dirigible. To all the unsilent types who commented via Facebook, I want you to know that I really enjoyed roughly 65-70 percent of you. In these crazy Internet times, that's a high number. Hopefully, you liked 65-70 percent of my jokes. As for the other 30 percent? My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should develop a sense of humor and care for their lives.
A question I get a lot: Is Terrence the Grantland Robot really dead? Well, we held a service for him last Tuesday. It was an emotional time and, considering he was hired to replace me and other human writers, I think our relationship ended on good terms. However, I can confirm that there was no body. Maybe that's because of the force of the dynamite. Or then again, maybe it's not. One thing I've learned is that we have to live with uncertainty, but I like to imagine he's in Tortuga right now, sipping from an oil drum and letting the island sun reflect off his metal casings. He always talked about how much he loved Tortuga, and while I'm not sure he understood where it was, or even what it was, he liked how the name sounded, and for a robot, that's pretty close to actual emotion.
I also want to thank my editors and all the people who helped me write this column, including my mom, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, Mitt Romney, Terrence, Carl the Actual Human, Wilford Brimley, the mayor of Cleveland, and the various other characters that stopped in for a day or two.
I'll leave you with a final poem that expresses some of my emotions about writing sports-themed jokes for the past year and a half. I wrote it a few days ago, so some of the subject matter might not be totally applicable anymore. Even so, I think it'll give you an idea what "About Last Night" meant to me, and how much I'll miss everyone.
It's hard to believe that the end is in sight!
Of writing these jokes at the crack of first light!
Together we shared all the stories and laughs!
We shared all our triumphs, we shared all our gaffes!
But when morning breaks on the pale Twenty-First
The heart of the planet shall tremble and burst
The mountains shall crumble, the oceans shall drain
From black smoking clouds, the fire shall rain!
The world will be ruptured from surface to core
And from hidden depths shall emerge such a roar
as has ne'er been hearkened by dim human ear:
The Mayans have risen! The Mayans are here!
They've toiled for ages in kingdoms of clay
At the world's very center, awaiting the day
When all of their fetters would shatter and break
And mortals above them would quiver and quake!
Deliverance comes: The end of our days
And lo they shall conquer, ravage and raze!
AND ALL WHO BERATED AND HATED MY JOKES
SHALL BE SLAVES TO THE MAYANS, CHAINED TO THEIR YOKES!
—Shane P. Ryan
All joking aside, thank you. I will gladly take your questions in the comments.