About Last Night: Big House Party

In case you wasted your one phone call on Shane Ryan, here’s what you missed in sports on New Year’s Day:

  • It was a snowy Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, where the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2, in a shootout in front of more than 105,000 fans. “It was too cold for hockey,” complained hockey semi-purist Colby Brynner. “I like my hockey like I like my coffee: tepid, in a steel container, and with Phil Kessel swimming inside of it.”
  • Blake Bortles outpaced the prolific Baylor offense as UCF claimed the Fiesta Bowl with a 52-42 upset win. “Everybody loves to talk about Bortles’s name,” UCF running back Storm Johnson said after the game, “but my name is Storm Johnson. That’s goddamn hilarious.” When told that there was something perfect about Bortles’s name, Johnson explained, “My first name is both nasty weather and a lady X-Man, and my last name is a euphemism for a penis. Storm Johnson! Blake’s first name is friggin’ Blake. Come on.”
  • Michigan State won the 100th Rose Bowl with a gritty 24-20 win over Stanford. The Rose Bowl, of course, is known as the “The Granddaddy of Them All,” but did you know it earned that name only after having illegitimately fathering the erstwhile Chamberlain Bowl when it slept with then-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, in order to create a fitting tribute for then-British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. However, when Chamberlain resigned from office with his nation on the verge of war, the Chamberlain Bowl was discontinued before it could ever be played. The now disgraced bowl assumed the identity of a young boy in Philadelphia named Wilt Chamberlain, proceeding to sleep with 10,000 other inanimate objects including a sack of sugar, a chain of Irish-themed fast casual restaurants, and a Belk. Thus we have the modern array of bowls, each of which is a grandchild of the Rose Bowl and also the bastard son of an inanimate object that took on the identity and future sexual proclivities of a baby.
  • Tottenham Hotspur continued their surge under new manager Tim Sherwood with a 2-1 win at Manchester United. “It’s a disappointing loss,” United manager David Moyes said after the match. “Things were finally turning around enough for me to start getting a, ‘Mo? Yes!’ chant going.” Moyes then said, “Mo?” and put his hand to his ear. After an awkward moment passed, he shook his head and said, “See? Nothing. Really disappointing day for me all around.”
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a new head coach after reportedly agreeing to terms with former Bears head coach Lovie Smith. “I’m really excited to get to work with the team and the new MRSA data analysis software it developed in the locker room,” Smith said upon being hired, as team co-chairman Bryan Glazer shushed the press corps and added, “That’s right. That’s what MRSA is. Software. Nobody needs to be a hero and say that it’s something else, which it isn’t.”
  • Former A’s and Cardinals pitcher Mark Mulder has signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Angels as he attempts to come back after a five-year hiatus from baseball. When asked why he settled on the Angels, Mulder explained, “I’m comfortable in Southern California, but I needed a partner who wanted to believe, and I couldn’t handle the skepticism of Dodgers legend Vin Scully.” Mulder then took off his sunglasses and added, “Also, I feel a personal obligation to inquire with Mike Trout as to how he got so good. The truth is out there.”
  • Connor Shaw produced five touchdowns in his final game as a Gamecock, as South Carolina beat Wisconsin, 34-24, to claim the Capital One Bowl. It also marked the final game in the legendary refereeing career of Pac-12 official Jay Stricherz, better known as Glasses Ref. In his honor, I called up an old friend from my days as a contemplative astronaut to pen the following tribute song, “Candle in the Pac-12 (Good-bye, Glasses Ref)”:
  • Good-bye, Glasses Ref.
    Though I never knew you at all.
    You had the grace to ref the games,
    while wearing your glasses.
    You always looked around
    like a guy who couldn’t see so well,
    But they put you on the field
    and they made you call the game.

    And it seems to me you lived your life
    like you hated all the teams.
    Never knowing what the rules were
    or when the down was one.
    And I would have liked to see you
    at an eye exam.
    Your prescription wore out long before
    your legend surely will.

    Calling games is tough,
    the toughest role you ever had.
    Though you were also a principal
    and you probably made kids sad.
    And even when you’re right,
    oh, coaches still hounded you.
    Coaches like Jim Harbaugh
    and probably other coaches, too.

    And it seems to me like you lived your life
    fucking over the Pac-12.
    Never knowing what the rules were
    or when the down is one.
    And I would have liked to see you
    in the SEC.
    Things would have ended long before
    you forged your legacy.

    Good-bye Glasses Ref.
    Though I never knew you at all
    you had the grace to make your calls
    in a way that occasionally benefited me.
    Good-bye Glasses Ref.
    From the young man in the 22nd row,
    who sometimes saw you as just a joke
    sometimes an inadvertent hero.

    And it seems to me like you lived your life
    like a candle in the wind.
    Never knowing what the rules were
    or when the down is one.
    And I do remember seeing you
    when I was just a kid.
    You made me distrust authority,
    that’s what you really did
    You made me distrust authority,
    that’s what you really did.

    Good-bye Glasses Ref.

Filed Under: About Last Night, Baylor, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Angels, Manchester United, Michigan State, South Carolina, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Wisconsin

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Spike Friedman is a contributing writer for Grantland and makes theater with the Satori Group in Seattle, Washington.

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