About Last Night: The Critic’s Corner

Bryce HarperIn case you were out living a life of leisure, here’s what you missed in sports on Wednesday.

Good morning. In today’s installment of About Last Night, we’re lucky enough to have renowned sports comedy critic Fenwick Vaughnagan on hand to analyze and critique every one of Ryan’s jokes. Vaughnagan was born in Caerwys, Wales, and earned international fame for his controversial first book, “You Can’t Joke About Rugby, Mate.” He moved to America in 1985, and has worked for the Miami Standard-Tribune ever since. Last year, he won the Chloe Herbst Memorial Humour Award for his debut novel “Field of Screams: A Murderous Romp Through America’s Ballparks.”

Note: Due to space limitations, we weren’t able to include Ryan’s joke and Vaughnagan’s critique, so the actual jokes have been omitted.

  • Bryce Harper hit two home runs and was ejected for spiking his helmet — both career firsts — as the Nationals ended a five-game losing streak with an 8-4 win over the Marlins. CRITIQUE: “Ryan starts out a bit weak here, it must be said, with a tenuous and rather offensive connection between Harper and former president Jimmy Carter that wouldn’t have drawn a laugh even among the yokels at the 1980 Republican convention. And at the risk of sounding like a prude, was it really necessary to use the word f— 18 times in one sentence?”
  • Evan Longoria hit two homers of his own as the Rays salvaged an 8-4 win in the third game of their series against the Rangers. CRITIQUE: “Yes, yes, we get it, Evan Longoria is just one letter away from Eva Longoria. How that weak comparison segued into speculation about the love life of each is still difficult for me to decipher, and frankly, I’m not sure it’s worth my time. What’s next, a wry quip on the phonic similarity between American game pioneer Milton Bradley and the volatile slugger? Ryan is a loathsome hack, and has all the maturity of a pun-obsessed 10-year-old boy who has just discovered his father’s stash of pornography.”
  • Wandy Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings to earn his first win as a Pirate, beating the Cardinals 5-0 in a battle for the NL wild card. CRITIQUE: “A brilliant recovery from Ryan, who proves in 10 short sentences that yes, perhaps baseball would be better off in the hands of the physically infirm. Who knew a tangential joke about the elderly could feel so … young? Pardon the wordplay, but he has single-handedly turned geriatrics into merry-atrics.”
  • Indiana radio analyst Allen Pinkett has come under heat for insisting that, in order to win, college football teams need “a few bad citizens,” and that excellent teams of the past always included “a couple of criminals.” CRITIQUE: “Uproarious! Ryan turns Pinkett’s words on their very head, satirizing the concept of criminality with a linguistic turn of the knife. I haven’t seen such a skewering of the American justice system since Sean Connery defied years of prison wisdom by breaking into Alcatraz. And yet I have to wonder, yet again, if Ryan was absolutely obliged to use the word ‘fuck’ 14 times in such a short span.”
  • Mat Latos (7 IP, 2 R) and Chris Helsey (2 HR) helped Cincinnati maintain baseball’s best record in a 6-2 win over Arizona. CRITIQUE: “Perhaps I’ve lost my discerning instincts, but at 700 words, the previous ‘joke’ seemed more like a detailed complaint about the local grocery store Ryan attends. I couldn’t detect anything resembling a setup or punch line, except maybe when he referred to the obese man he calls the ‘deli bastard.’ Are there any standards in this column?”
  • As the NFL Referees Association lockout continues with no collective bargaining agreement in sight, replacement refs will take the field in Week 1 next Sunday. CRITIQUE: “I suppose Roger Goodell is fair game here, though the concept of a penile replacement in the man’s sex life was perhaps more than I cared to envision on a Thursday morning.”
  • Lance Armstrong introduced himself as a seven-time winner of the Tour de France at a cancer conference, despite the fact that his titles were recently stripped due to doping allegations. CRITIQUE: “Once again, Terrence the Grantland Robot outclasses Ryan in every way. If the poor bugger could only learn to type in lowercase letters, he’d immediately become an American humorist on the level of Mark Twain.”
  • Tennis legend Kim Clijsters said good-bye to the U.S. Open crowd following a second round loss in what will be her final competitive singles match. CRITIQUE: “I’m not sure I see the point in ranking famous female tennis stars in terms of which ones would make the best sister, but I do agree that Clijsters falls somewhere far below the delightful Mary Carillo.”
  • Roger Clemens announced that he will make a second start for the Sugar Land Skeeters following his strong performance last week. CRITIQUE: “Dreadful stuff from Ryan, who has failed to do anything but prove that several filthy words rhyme with Skeeter. And while I’m no fan of the unseemly Mr. Clemens, some of Ryan’s unfounded claims about his personal habits stomp grotesquely on the line between humor and libel.”
  • Jaguars GM Gene Smith announced that the team has no plans to trade holdout running back Maurice Jones-Drew. CRITIQUE: “A blazing finish! Ryan has me questioning everything I know about comedy as he closes with a structurally perfect treatise on the very essence of what it means to be a fan. This is pure Asimov, if Asimov wasn’t such a sci-fi dullard. Here, Ryan has shown the most incisive, wicked intelligence of his career, and all 24 instances of the word fuck were sublimely placed. A tour de force!”

Filed Under: About Last Night, Bryce Harper, Cincinnati Reds, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Marlins, NFL, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, U.S. Open, Washington Nationals

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Shane Ryan is a contributing writer for Grantland. His book about the young stars of the PGA Tour will be published by Random House in early 2015.

Archive @ ShaneRyanHere