In case you were rocking a CFL jersey in court, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts once again used their comeback magic to eke out a 30-27 win over the Tennessee Titans. "Wow, we were pretty fortunate to get that win," Luck said after the game. When asked by reporters to phrase his comments another way, Luck replied, "It was a hell of a fortuitous outcome, that's for sure. Chance favored us, as we were blessed with kismet." When asked again to phrase what he was saying in perhaps a simpler and more headline-friendly way, Luck said, "Oh, I see. Well, I would say we struck gold with this team. I would say the win was in the cards. Some may say we caught the breaks, that our run has been a fluke, that the gods were smiling upon us, that victory and my team were joined by serendipity. I mean, we got horseshoes on our helmets and clovers in our pockets, so what would you expect?" Luck then glared at the assembled media and added, "Suck it, for me."
Andre Iguodala's buzzer-beater was the difference as the Golden State Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 116-115, in a riveting Western Conference battle. "Another tough loss, but we're so close," an optimistic Kevin Durant said at the postgame press conference. "I mean, we're just one player away from being really good. And it's no one's fault that we don't have that guy. This front office and ownership group has only made smart decisions." Durant then went to take a sip of water, when things went horribly awry. Durant started shooting sparks out of his mouth, and saying in a horrific robotic voice, "FAILURE, ROBOTIC FAILURE, MUST POWER DOWN, WHY WOULD YOU PROGRAM ME TO FEEL PAIN?" before collapsing to the ground and bursting into flames. Suddenly, a human Durant burst into the room yelling, "They drugged me! They didn't want me to talk," before looking at his robotic double dying on the ground at his feet. "You tried to play God, you monsters!" Durant yelled, as he held his robot double's head in his hands. "All to save a couple million bucks on the Harden deal. This robot must have cost that much. Curse you, Clay Bennett! Curse you!"
In case you were out accidentally revealing that you named a loved one Cosmo, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
The Dodgers clinched the NL West title with a 7-6 road win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, before angering the Diamondbacks' organization by celebrating in the pool at Chase Field. "You can't have a pool party at our pool and not invite us," said disappointed Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, as he stood in a pair of bright blue bathing trunks holding two pool noodles. When asked why he had two noodles, Goldschmidt hung his head and said softly, "One for me, and one for a new best friend." Goldschmidt then exploded, saying, "His name is Yasiel, and now that's never going to happen, is it? Is it?"
Despite Kansas City's failures in clock management and third-and-short situations, the Chiefs moved to 3-0, prevailing over a sloppy Philadelphia Eagles team, 26-16, in Thursday Night Football action. Which is to say that on the binary football scale of "Andy Reid" to "Not Andy Reid" by which all football games can be judged, the game scored an "Andy Reid."
In case you were busy laboring like a laborer, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
College football's opening weekend is in the books, and the marquee matchup went to Clemson as the Tigers protected their home field in a 38-35 win over Georgia. The win was Clemson's second consecutive over a top-10 SEC opponent, which, unbeknownst to the school, triggered the little known Assimilation Clause in the NCAA bylaws, meaning that the ACC school will be forced to join the SEC unless head coach Dabo Swinney can win a staring contest with Alabama head coach Nick Saban or a pig feet–eating contest with LSU coach Les Miles.
With quarterback Johnny Manziel suspended for the first half, it was surprisingly Texas A&M's defense that struggled early against Rice, before the Aggies pulled away late in a 52-31 win. Manziel again found himself at the center of attention after throwing three touchdowns, but also being penalized for taunting, and using gestures that suggested he wants monetary compensation for his play. Now you know that we here at About Last Night are all about debate, and no one is more worthy of some debate time than Johnny Manziel. Now I think it's clear that Manziel has finally gone too far. An athlete making a gesture related to signing autographs? Making a gesture suggesting he wants to be paid for playing well? What world are we living in? Backwardtopia? Oh, we are? Well, I'm sorry I'm not a resident of the capital of Backwardtopia, Thugopolis (population: Football, Johnny), but I want my athletes in contact sports to actively refuse monetary compensation and autograph opportunities at every turn, until they have been out of Thugopolis High School (mascot: The Fighting Manziels) for exactly three years, at which point I want them to do the exact opposite. What is confusing about that? I'm sorry I'm not the county commissioner of the Mefirstland Prefecture, but our institutions must not fall in the face of such shenanigans.
The All-22 All-Star Team is an attempt to provide some insight on the NFL's 22 most underappreciated players. Some will be All-Pros who haven't fully gotten their due; some will be names few casual fans have ever heard. All will, for one reason or another, have been overlooked.
Sometime near the middle of the second round, Dwayne Allen got hungry again. The first 60 or so picks of the 2012 draft had crawled by, and a frustrated Allen — surrounded by extended family at a relative’s house in Tuscaloosa, Alabama — retreated to the kitchen for another plate of spaghetti.
Draft day wasn’t supposed to go like this. Allen’s reasoning for leaving Clemson a year early was largely because he’d accomplished his goals: All-ACC, consensus All-American, John Mackey Award winner as the best tight end in college football. But it was also because upon submitting his papers to the draft board, he received a first-round grade. One 4.9 combine 40 later, here he was, midway through the draft’s second day, dulling his pain with pasta.
In case you were busy camping out at Man of Steel so you could see the new Elysium trailer, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
Dwyane Wade turned in a vintage performance as the Miami Heat evened the NBA Finals at two games apiece with a 109-93 win over the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs' lackluster second-half effort was highlighted by the poor play of reserve guard Manu Ginobili, who was held to five overall points while the Spurs were outscored by 22 in his 26 minutes on the court. I think the performance raises the question: Can Manu win the big one? For a player of his skill level, Manu sure had a habit of disappearing last night. I say Ginobili's me-first running and gunning has officially gone too far. When will Manu develop a consistent post game, to use his physique to dominate inside? If Manu Ginobili is the supposed best sixth man in the NBA, how come he can't match Michael Jordan's six rings? And let's face it, sixth man? When will Ginobili put Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in his place and demand to be in the starting five? I think we can all agree: It's time for Manu to Man-up.
Phil Mickelson began the U.S. Open with a 67, taking the clubhouse lead after a rain-shortened first round at Merion. "It's exciting to be back out in front at the U.S. Open," Mickelson said, grinning broadly, "and I just can't wait until I finish second." As Mickelson finished speaking his smile cracked, and his eyes started tracking back and forth quickly. His lips were moving, yet the words he was speaking were difficult to make out. Looking closely, it appeared that Mickelson was listing years and names: "1999, Payne Stewart; 2002, Tiger Woods; 2004, Retief Goosen; 2006, Geoff Ogilvy; 2009, Lucas Glover." When he finished repeating his litany five times, his eyes snapped back into the center of his face and his smile returned. "Yup, second place at the U.S. Open. Again. Can't wait."
Confession time: I have a bad relationship with GIFs. I'm 100 percent alone on this one, I know, especially among young Internet sports types. But to me, GIFs are like "Harlem Shake" videos — hilarious visual gag at first, until you become so inundated that you go numb and begin to hate the person who bought you your first computer and sent you on this horrible, soul-killing journey into the heart of the Internet. (Important note: This is for comedy GIFs only it doesn't go for the ones that are just meant to show a sweet dunk, a great goal, or any of the other sincere uses of the form.)
Watching a GIF, I get the weird sense that I'm being manipulated, as though I'm laughing begrudgingly at a stand-up comedian whose only bit is to hit himself in the face with a baking pan. The endless repetition is supposed to be what gives the image its humor, but something about it drives me crazy. It's like we're making snark-commodities out of human moments. (Actually, pretend I just said something along the same lines, but less pretentious.)
This is my only soapbox. I only care about destroying the GIF culture. But after all that big talk, I have to admit that I still laugh at the really good ones that transcend the medium, like Ben McLemore dancing. And the reason I'm mentioning it now is that I violated my own principles and yeah, made a GIF. I couldn't help it:
I know I should have stuck to my guns, but the way the cameraman went into soft focus on Kelly and readjusted to the fan doing the White Raven arms — it's like he was begging me to make a GIF. He was my serpent, and his comic shot was the forbidden apple. I hope this isn't the start of a slippery slope, but in three months you'll probably find me lying face down in a dark Internet cafe, dead from a GIF overdose.
In case you were back out at the karaoke bar trying to redeem last night's off-key performance with a heartfelt rendition of "Ruby Tuesday," here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
The Indiana Pacers continued their hot play at home, downing the Miami Heat, 87-77. Paul George, who led the Pacers with 29 points, matched up with reigning NBA MVP LeBron James and said after the game, "It's a chance to for me to see where I'm at, going against one of the best, if not, the best in the league." When asked to rate George's performance, James said, "The dude from The Beatles? Nah, I don't like them very much." When told that he wasn't being asked about either Paul McCartney or George Harrison, James responded, "Oh, Canadian Prime Minister Paul George? Yeah, dude has some cool thoughts on tariffs and immigration. Bet you didn't think I knew that!" It was then explained to James that Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada, and that Paul George was his opponent in the basketball game he had played less than an hour earlier. "Oh, George Paul? James responded. "That dude kicked my butt tonight."
When my wife read Friday's post, she asked me why I cared who was the beefiest or bulkiest player in the country. And I have to tell you guys I didn't have a good answer. Let's move on to this week's epiphanies and observations.
It's Rivalry slash Thanksgiving Week, when teams who have historically aggravated one another by virtue of shared geography, but who may not even be in the same conference in 2012, meet up for an annual gathering of bad feelings. This is the week for Florida–Florida State, Georgia Tech–Georgia, South Carolina–Clemson, and more. But before we get to the top 10 games, let's take a quick look at the perfect scenario for the final few weeks of college football, and let's do it in stream-of-consciousness form. For the ultimate comedic and poetic payoff, here's what has to happen:
Oregon loses to Oregon State, Georgia loses to Georgia Tech, Florida loses to Florida State, Alabama loses to Georgia in SEC title game, Georgia Tech beats Florida State in ACC title game, Kansas State loses to Texas, Stanford beats UCLA then loses to UCLA in Pac-12 title game, Louisville beats Rutgers but loses in a bowl game, Wisconsin beats Nebraska in Big Ten title game, Notre Dame loses to USC, Oklahoma wins out, Kent State and Northern Illinois both lose in bowls.
First, none of those outcomes are unlikely. All of them put together? Highly unlikely. But humor me for a second, because these are the teams that would earn automatic BCS berths if that scenario plays out: Georgia Tech, Georgia, Louisville, Wisconsin, UCLA, and Oklahoma. And the national title game would probably be Notre Dame vs. Georgia. Now, let's say Notre Dame, at 11-1, loses to 11-2 Georgia. Also, Ohio State beats Michigan this week.
The result? Zero bowl-eligible teams with even a one-loss record, and a BCS champion in Georgia that lost 35-7 to South Carolina, and suffered a hypothetical loss to Georgia Tech. The whole college landscape is a dusty wasteland. And then, rising amid the destruction, like a glorious phoenix, is Urban Meyer with his 12-0 Ohio State team. So riddle me this — could the AP poll, which is independent of the BCS, really put the Buckeyes anywhere but no. 1? I say no, and that means Ohio State would win a split national championship. The same Ohio State that's banned from postseason play because some kid got a free tattoo, and the same Ohio State that barely beat Cal at home, escaped from Indiana, and needed a miracle to beat Purdue in overtime.
And when all that happens, I'm going to phone up the BCS and just start laughing in their faces. A dude can dream.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
The Kansas City Chiefs overcame an 18-point deficit to stun the Saints 27-24 on Ryan Succop's 31-yard overtime field goal. "You did such a great job calling plays!" said Succop to Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel after the game. "How did you learn so much about football? It's really neat just to be around you and watch how you school the other coaches. Hey, do you and your wife want to come over for dinner sometime this week? Maybe Tuesday or Wednesday? Thursday or Friday work, too, or Monday. Mrs. Succop is cooking pot roast. Or whatever you want. She can always change the menu."
"The ACC tournament doesn't start until Friday," is a phrase I heard more than once Thursday, the day on which the ACC tournament actually started.
I was especially prone to hearing that sentiment, considering my penchant for complaining about the lack of quality basketball. Still, all good drama needs a setup; those first two establishing acts that make us care about the climax. Even a joke needs a foundation, and it remains to be seen which path this tournament will take.
Before we take a tour of the notable events from Thursday, here are the basics you need to know.
The 12 schools of the Atlantic Coast Conference came into league play in various states of ripening or disrepair. Virginia was riding one of the best starts in team history and had surprised everyone by cracking the Top 25. North Carolina had survived a shaky start and was finally starting to look like the national title hopeful we'd imagined in November. Duke had gone the opposite direction, as the luster of early wins faded in the face of recent humiliations. Florida State spent its first 14 games learning that great defense might not quite be enough this year, while others, such as Maryland and Wake Forest and NC State, made strides that will either prove to be omens of rebirth or ignes fatui, false lights in the dark.
When the first six games had passed, most of the questions still lingered. Here are some quick (and not so quick) thoughts on each.
Did you watch West Virginia and Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Wednesday night? Then we also recommend taking a look at Chris Brown's breakdown of West Virginia's offense, which ran on Grantland earlier this year. It's much more interesting than that game was!
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
West Virginia broke the record for most points scored in a bowl game with a 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl. It was an ignominious end to the season for ACC football, but at least the conference can count on great basketball teams like Duke to restore its reputation against non-conference opponents.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
The final BCS rankings are out, and LSU and Alabama will meet again for the national championship. And in a world of chaos and confusion, let me be the first to thank the BCS for yet another year of controversy-free rankings that show, without a doubt, that this is the best possible system for determining a champion.