Our Daily Dread: ‘Women’s problems’

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Jelena Jankovic had ‘em at Wimbledon on Saturday.

“It’s not easy being a woman sometimes,” the former world No. 1 tennis player admitted.

She just lost to 17-year-old American out-of-no-where qualifyer and 124th-ranked Melane Oudin in the fourth round, 6-7 (8-10), 7-5, 6-2. But apparently Oudin wasn’t the one giving her problems.

“I had some women’s problems,” explained Jankovic. “All these things happen. What can I do? I tried my best. I’ve never had problems like that with my monthly cycle in the past. That was a first experience for me.”

In a 24/7 news cycle, this story still seems to have some legs.

We all remember our first experience with this sort of thing. It’s an embarassing moment. We’re with our friends. We don’t know how or what to do. We run to the bathroom, sobbing. Or we just gut it out.

For me, it was probably right in the middle of a Little League game. I’d just got into a fight with my girlfriend — that can be tramatic for an 11-year-old. My head wasn’t into the game when I went out to the park that day. Coach gave me the ball to pitch, but I couldn’t find the plate. I made a couple errors when I got sent to the outfield. I threw my glove under the dugout bench and almost started crying.

What’s the matter, son? Coach looked concerned, in a fatherly sorta way.

“Nuthin’,” I said. But I knew — it was women’s problems. I stayed silent. I kept the pain inside.

Janovic was on a much bigger stage. She won the first set against Oudin, but then she had to take a medical timeout. She couldn’t keep it secret.

“I was like a ghost, white in the face,” Jankovic said. “I didn’t know where I was. The physiotherapist came out and she asked me, ‘Do you know what your name is?’ I just saw blurry. I didn’t know. It was a really strange feeling. I was scared and started to cry.”

Tell us about it.

“After the first set, I felt really dizzy, and I thought I was just going to end up in hospital. I started to shake,” she added. “I was losing consciousness.”

Sounds like more than “women’s problems.”

Yet, if women only knew how much men would love to use the excuse of “women’s problems” whenever something went wrong with their game.

What Alex Rodriguez has been able to do on the field despite all his “women’s problems” is Hall of Fame stuff. How Dirk Novitski was able to perform on the basketball court this past season with all his “women’s problems” is remarkable. And that has nothing to do with Violet Palmer officiating a Dallas Mavericks’ game.

Sean Avery … we’re not even sure how he functions.

Don’t even go down the path of Manny Ramirez and his fertility drug addiction. We’re cramping up just thinking about that one.

I was late for high school basketball practice one day. My coach pulled me aside and asked what was up.

Women’s problems, I said.

“You’re afraid of getting your girlfriend pregant?” he asked.

No, but I am now. Thanks for putting that extra stress on me.

If more male athletes used the “women’s problems” explanation as to why they didn’t perform well, fans would understand.

Honestly, who hasn’t been there? You can say you’re leaving your personal life off the field, or court, or rink, to find the peace and serenity of focusing on the game or match. But then try it.

In the NFL, a women’s problem usually starts with Paris Hilton. Matt Leinart and Brian Urlacher can attest.

Around Major League Baseball, it’s Alyssa Milano. She somehow avoided Derek Lowe when he tried pitching for the Dodgers the last two seasons, but he had other women’s problems.

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Remember Anna Benson? Maybe the reason why Kris Benson , the first pick of the 1996 MLB draft, hasn’t done much in his big-league career since 2007 is because of a torn rotator cuff. The fact he’s still sitting on the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A roster these days waiting for a call-up that probably won’t happen …

We’re not ruling out women’s problems.

Especially in an IndyCar Race, when Danica Patrick cut them off coming out of the pits, and then she stormed over to scream at them afteward. What’s Marco Andretti going to say? It’s not a women’s problem?

>(Someone told us the other day that to eat in the press room at Staples Center before a WNBA Sparks’ game, the price went up from $7 to … $20. And that’s without a chef’s carving station. … Here’s women’s sports creating problems).

For at least a weekend, Jankovic’s problems made Oudin an American tennis idol. She joined Venus and Serena Williams as the only U.S. women’s players in the Round of 16.

Until today. Then Oudin had women’s problems. It was named Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat the 5-foot-6 Georgia teen in straight sets.

When Oudin gets back stateside and starts to explain what happened to her — the good and the ending, just as her parents were jetting in to see her play on late notice — she would be wise not to use the reason “women’s problems” to explain the end of her Wimbledon run.

She’s still a teenager, with plenty of teenage problems in her life ahead. Save “women’s problems” for when more believeable.

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Your playoff-bound Lightning keep striking

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The Los Angeles Lightning of the International Basketball League head into its final regular-season game Tuesday night in Tacoma before beginning the playoffs with a best-of-three series in Monroe, Wash.

The winner goes to the IBL championship on July 18 at a site to be determined.

A season-best 28 points from former UCLA and NBA guard Darrick Martin, plus three others scoring 20 or more points, pushed the Lightning (14-3) to their sixth win in a row, 132-111, over the Nevada Pride on Sunday at Cal Lutheran. (Box score linked here)

Center Adam Parada was 10-of-12 from the field to score 25 points with 15 rebounds. Chris Ayer had 22 points and 15 rebounds. Juaquin Hawkins, one of six former NBA players on the team, had 21 points, nine rebounds and three steals off the bench. Former UCLA standout Toby Bailey had 13 points, 12 assists and six rebounds.

Martin, the former Clippers point guard, was 7-of-13 from 3-points and scored 20 of his 28 in the final two quarters.

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Roll out the bloglinks — find the stories from the newspaper … that made it into cyberfodder

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In our latest edition of sports blogrolling today (linked here), we’ll give you further access to the blogs we were referring to:

== Kobe vs. Villaraigosa:
At LAObserved: (linked here)
At the Los Angeles Wave: (linked here)
At NBCLosAngeles.com: (linked here)

== Blake Griffin vs. the purple shirt:
At The Wall Street Journal’s “Daily Fix”: (linked here)

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== Jarrett Stoll vs. Rachel Hunter
At TheHollywoodGossip.com: (linked here)
At WonderWall.msn.com: (linked here)

== Bill Simmons vs. Mike Dunleavy:
Simmons’ latest column on the Clippers and Dunleavy at ESPN.com: (linked here)
At Emptybackfield.com (linked here)
The Dunleavy interview with Colin Cowherd (linked here, via ClippersTopBuzz)
Also, how Simmons now sponsors Dunleavy’s page on Basketball-Reference.com (linked here)

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Lou Gehrig stole home how many times? No, not 2,130

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Fifteen. For real.

All were on the back half of a double-steal, where the Yankees’ Hall of Famer also known Piano Legs and Biscuit Pants happened to be on third base, and the runner from first took off and stole second. Leaving Gehrig to sprint home. Fifteen times. And hit six inside-the-park homers.

Lou Brock never stole home.

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That’s just one of the 101 things worth pondering from the new ESPN-compiled book, “The Mighty Book of Sports Knowledge: 101 Things You Need to Know about the Games We Love,” edited by Steve Wulf (Ballantine Books and ESPN Books, $25, 210 pages).

Wulf calls the book a “kind of a flea market” full of “anecdotes, arguments, quotes, quizzes, lists, lessons, histories, mysteries, speaches, facts, curios.” Contributions come from all the ESPN campus, and the art work, plus photographs of neat artifacts (some from Wulf’s private treasure) are just worth admiring all the same.

Aside from the Gehrig gem, here’s the rest of our Top 10 list of things we really didn’t know that much about, but do now, and may be better for it, after finding this new release at our local chain bookstore (apparently, it’s not even up yet on ESPNbooks.com, so go figure):

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9. Howie Schwab, ESPN’s resident know-it-all, is asked to pick his all-time uniform numbers, from 0 to 99 and beyond.

For No. 65, he took Gary Zimmerman. The former offensive lineman from the USFL’s Los Angeles Express. Who ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, mostly for his performance with the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos. Back in October, 2007, when we did our list of the All-Time Southern California sports roster, listing those from 0 to 99 who belonged best with a certain number, Zimmerman wasn’t even on our radar for No. 65 (linked here), who we assigned to former L.A. Rams great Tom Mack. Did Zimmerman even wear No. 65 with the Express (when he blocked for quarterback Steve Young)? We’re trying to find out.

Also — and mind you, this is an all-time list, not just L.A. — for No. 71, he took Tony Boselli, the former USC Outland Trophy winner, while we took Joe Scibelli, the former L.A. Rams star.

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8. Former Dodgers third base coach Rich Donnelly explains how simple it is to give signs to hitters.

“There are 12 areas you can touch without going to jail,” he says. “What I try to do is touch all thos espots at least once, giving the sign in the middle. You don’t want to go too fast or too slow.”

Donnelly says that he practices giving signs all the time — at red lights, even at his house of worship.

“In church, people think I’m blessing myself. I’m not. I’m giving the sign for a hit-and-run.”

7. You can have your own one-name Brazlian soccer name.

Go to the website minimalsworld.net and click on the Brazlian soccer name generator (linked here). Enter your first and last names, as well as your favorite jersey number. For example, Landon Donovan and No. 10 would be: Donovisco.

We came out: Hoffinhosa. That’s my Brazilian name, or my porn name?

6. Where did the catchphrase “Boom Goes the Dynamite” come from?

This video clip of Ball State University fill-in sports anchor freshman Brian Collins’ 3 minutes, 54 seconds of hell:

5. If Cy Young had a chance to win the Cy Young Award, how many would he have?

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Four, according to someone who compared his stats to those against the others he competed against in 22 seasons between 1890 and 1911.

That’s it, just four? He was going up against Christy Mathewson, you know. But Cy would have probably lost out to Amos Rusie in 1893, to Chick Hoffer in 1895, to Kid Nichols in 1896 and ’98 and to Jay Hughes in 1899. Guys who shouldn’t even be in the same sentence as Cy Young.

So why hasn’t the name of the thing been changed to the Roger Clemens Award (since he’s won seven Cys)? Oh, right …

4. Staph infections can be a killer. It’s when bacteria grows in the pads or equipment of athletes, makes ‘em sick, and can lead to … bad things.

How does an athlete make sure he doesn’t get a staph infection from his equipment? The New York Rangers equipment manager Acacio Marques says the key is drying everything out, hanging the gear up (not leaving it in the equipment bags) and cranking up the heat. There’s also a “sani sport machine” that disinfects things with bactericide and ozone gas. And there’s some germ-killing stuff that goes in the washing machines with all the towels and underwear.

PU.

3. Ever hear of Lou Novikoff?

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He was a Chicago Cubs outfielder (1941-44) (linked here) known as “The Mad Russian” who thought the outfield wall at Wrigley Field was lined with poison ivy, so whenever there was a ball to chase against the fence, he’d veer away. They say even his wife, Esther, booed him for doing that.

They say that when he died in 1970, he was “buried in a leafy Los Angeles cemetery.”

We did some more checking. The name was too familiar.

He was buried, according to the baseball-alamac.com, at the Russian Molokan Cemetery in the City of Commerce (linked here).

He was a four-time minor-league batting champ, and the 1939 Minor League Player of the Year when he split time with the Los Angeles Angels of the PCL and Tulsa Oilers of the Texas League (linked here). In 1940, he won the PCL’s Triple Crown — batting .343, with 171 RBIs and 41 homers with the Angels.

So if he played with the Angels, at Wrigley Field in L.A., it also had ivy. Right?

By the way, Novikoff made the Hall of Fame. In softball. After he left the big leagues after five years, he became a fast-pitch softball player (under the name Lou Novik) and is in the International Softball Congress Hall.

2. A list of the “five best sports leads” — that is, opening paragraphs to a sports newspaper story — has two from Red Smith, one from Grantland Rice (about the Four Horseman), one from Jim Murray and the last from Peter Pascarelli.

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From Murray, the late Los Angeles Times star, previewing the 1975 Muhammad Ali-Chuck Wepner fight:

“For those of you who missed the Russo-Finnish War, the Johnstown Flood and Custer’s Last Stand, be of good cheer. Muhammad Ali is going to ‘fight’ Chuck Wepner, Type O. Like the Titanic fought that iceberg.”

As for his best line (which wasn’t the lead), I’dl still go with the one he wrote before the 1966 Indianapolis 500 (linked here): “Gentlemen, start your coffins.”

1. On page 158, there’s a list of the five biggest sports movie errors.

Did you know, for example: In “Rudy” (1993), in the scene that takes place right before the game where Rudy plays, the Notre Dame Stadium shows the Penn State band on the field playing the Penn State fight song. Then Notre Dame comes out and takes on Georgia Tech.

And Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) bats right handed in “Field Of Dreams” (1989), when the actual Shoeless Joe was a left-hander.

And … you can look it up. You can’t make it up.

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The Media Learning Curve: June 19-26

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What we know, and what we think we know … and what we’re still waiting to find out, OK?

== Bob Raisman of the New York Post didn’t think the national coverage fit the crime in the Manny Ramirez trip through Albuquerque this week (linked here)

== Will Tim McCarver and Joe Buck get you to watch “Mr. 3,000″? (linked here)

== What is ESPN doing in the soccer business? (linked here)

== Is one-time sportswriter (UCLA Daily Bruin, The Oregonian) David Kahn, now GM of the Minnesota TimberWolves, “drunk with power”? (linked here).

== Does FoxSports.Net really need a makeover (linked here)? The boss says so.

== Blind as we try to be to this, we could have just regurgitated this list about the ESPY Award nominees, but let someone else do it (linked here).

== Who’s covering Wimbledon, from the U.S. newspaper guild? (linked here)

== AND FINALLY:

== Why we’re supposed to be watching ABC’s “The Superstars” for the foul-mouthed supermodel ripping Terrell Owens (story linked here):

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The Media Learning Curve: More Manny media madness

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Manny-querque has pulled up its tent. It’s a day off — a pregnant pause, if you will — before finding Lake El-snore. Then San Bernardino. Then … San Diego. For the real deal.

Lewis and Clark never had an easier “rehab” assignment West of the Rockies.

Before Manny qualifies for the Triple A All-Star Game and an induction into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame, we pause to consider his affect on the media around the country.

Steve Hurlbert, the director of media relations for the ‘Topes, said the team issued an extra 65 credentials for this “Manny” series (adding to about 30 credentials that it has already issued to local media affiliates).

Let the circus continue (after today’s media column linked here):

== Confederations Cup Final: U.S. vs. Brazil, live on ESPN, Sunday at 11 a.m. with the pregame, 11:25 a.m. bootoff, from Ellis Park in Johannesburg. A prediction from ESPN’s John Harkes: A 1-1 tie, with the U.S. winning in a shootout and “Tim Howard comes out the big hero.” An Alexi Lalas prediction: “They (U.S. Team) have a chance of winning. A final is a final, anything can happen.”

== Interleague play ain’t over: Fox takes the Angels’ game Saturday at Arizona (Channel 11, 1 p.m., with Kenny Albert and Mark Grace). The New York Yankees-New York Mets series sees time on the MLB Network (Saturday, 4 p.m., with Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds) and ESPN (Sunday, 5 p.m., with Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips). TBS has Boston at Atlanta (Sunday, 10:30 a.m.)

== NBC has the U.S. Track and Field Championships from famed Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. (Sunday, 1 p.m.), including Beijing medalists such as former L.A. Baptist High star Allyson Felix (100 and 200 meters), Angelo Taylor, Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson (400 meter hurdles) plus Tyson Gay (100 meters). Tom Hammond, Ato Boldon, Lewis Johnson, Dwight Stones and Bob Neumeier call it.

== HBO has the Victor Ortiz-Marcos Rene Maidana bout from Staples Center on delay (Saturday, 10 p.m.) with Bob Papa, Emanuel Steward and Max Kellerman on its “Boxing After Dark” series. The previously announced co-feature showcasing Chris John and Rocky Juarez has been cancelled due to illness. Meanwhile, the four-episode series “Mayweather/Marquez 24/7,” originally scheduled to debut prior to this bout, has been delayed due to the postponement of the July 18 pay-per-view bout.

== Variety reports that Columbia Pictures, unhappy with a script rewrite, has dropped the ball on “Moneyball,” the Steven Soderbergh-directed film starring Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane that was supposed to start shooting this week in Phoenix. The movie is now being pitched to Warner Bros. and Paramount. Soderbergh is using real and former players such as Scott Hatteberg, David Justice, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry.

== Check in on the Golf Channel’s new series, “Golf in America” (Tuesdays, 10 p.m.) as it tries to capture “the never-before-told stories, larger-than-life characters and inspirational people” who have “the spirit of the game of golf,” according to the network release. Actor Anthony Anderson hosts, with interviews by Rich Lerner, Kelly Tilghman, Brandel Chamblee and John Feinstein.

== Fox Soccer Channel airs the movie “Goal! The Dream Begins” on Sunday (5 p.m. and 8 p.m.) about the young soccer player Santiago (played by Kuno Becker) from East L.A. who plays in England. Cameos by David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane.

== With the Tour de France approaching (July 4), the Sundance Channel has the U.S. TV debut of “Blood, Sweat & Gears: Racing Clean To The Tour De France” on Monday (10:30 p.m.), which follows Team Slipstream-Chipotle (now Team Garmin-Slipstream), a young Colorado-based pro cycling team that pioneered the most progressive anti-doping system in all of professional sports and used it during the 2008 race. The movie has several repeats, including Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and beyond July 4.

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A sniff at the new book on Beckham

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“The Beckham Experiment: How the World’s Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America,” by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, has a July 14 release date — two days before David Beckham makes his first appearance of 2009 for the MLS’ Galaxy, and almost two years to the day when the team held its introductory press conference at the Home Depot Center amidst confetti and fanfare.

Yes, the timing is right.

According to the publisher (book linked here) and publicity maker generating interest in the project, Wahl “went behind the scenes from Day 1 with truly unprecedented access to players, management, handlers and Beckham himself to bring readers the real story behind this intricately managed fiasco. The book is sure to raise more than a few eyebrows and shed new light on the relationship between the increasingly uncomfortable bedfellows of sports and the entertainment industry.”

The book is scheduled for release to reviewers by July 6 “because of the controversial nature of the book.”

More from the Crown publishers’ pub:

Continue reading

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Our Daily Dread: The maple bat that just nicked Nick Green … for real, not on a video game

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AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Boston Red Sox’s shortstop Nick Green looks back to second base as he runs near a broken bat by Washington Nationals’ Elijah Dukes during the second inning of Wednesday’s game in Washington.

UPDATED: Thursday, June 18:

We saw the replay of this near ugly impaling incident on the MLB Network (check out the clip yourself at this link), nearly a few minutes after it happened. And Elijah Dukes was credited with a base hit for what was an otherwise routine grounder to Nick Green in Wednesday’s game. The reason: Green was busy trying to avoid the spiraling sharred end of the barrel of the bat that was coming at him and he let the grounder go into left field.

Again, someone barely avoids getting speared.

On the Red Sox’s website story (linked here), Green, who turned to see the broken bat lodged into the outfield grass after the play ended, said:

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“It hit me in the forearm, but it was the barrel, so it was all right,. It happened so fast, you don’t really have time to react. I did what I could do to get out of the way of the bat. That’s all you can do. I didn’t have time to get scared. [It's] just one of those things that happens and you try to get away as quick as we can.”

Said Washington manager Manny Acta: “Lord, that was very scary. We have seen bats split in two in the last couple of years, but I’ve never seen a bat travel that far and that fast toward that guy. What came to my mind was, ‘What if it was toward the mound, which is only 60 feet, six inches [away]?’ It was scary, but I think they are doing some studies on that. Hopefully something good will come out of it.”

Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester: “I thought we put a whole lot of money and time into researching how that doesn’t happen, but we’re still getting a lot of bat heads that break and go flying. There’s nothing you can really do.”

The video clip made for some interesting replays on ESPN’s yackfest shows in the days that followed. Among the reactions that seemed to border only on common sense:

Tim Cowlishaw on “Around The Horn” said: “There’s no need for this. Just make guys use ash bats. End of story. Get rid of maple.”

Tony Kornheiser on “Pardon the Interruption” said: “When you ask Bud (Selig) a question, he forms a commission, he studies it for 10 years, he delays and delays and delays and tells you sometime in the future he’s going to come out with a decision. You can’t have this. When one of these bats splinters and hits somebody in the head, and he looks like a visadop, because he’s got something sticking out of his head, you can’t have that. Ban maple.”

Added Michael Wilbon: “For 80 years they used ash baseball bats. How many bats did (DiMaggio) break during the 56-game hitting streak? Babe Ruth, it seems, used the same bats for an entire season. They didn’t break … and the solution is so simple. Ash baseball bats. Just do it already.”

Yes, this is the first time in the discussion that we’ve been on since 2007 that the word “visadop” has been dropped into a sentence. And I can’t even begin to figure out what kind of thing that is. I can’t spell it. I’ve never heard of it. I have no idea what that would even look like, except to imagine it based on his description.

You know how “normal” these broken bats now seem to be? They’re included in video games:

Add to this, a story this week about an 8-year-old fan hit by a broken bat in a minor league game in Toledo (linked here):

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Obama may take the final punch for Jack Johnson

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By Frederic J. Frommer
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Senate urged President Barack Obama today to pardon the late black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, who was sent to prison nearly a century ago because of his romantic ties with a white woman.

Senators approved the resolution by voice vote; it now goes to the House.

Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion in 1908 — 100 years before Obama was elected the nation’s first black president. The boxer was convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for immoral purposes. The law has since been heavily amended, but has not been repealed.

The resolution was sponsored by Obama’s 2008 opponent, Arizona Republican John McCain. Similar resolutions offered in 2004 and last year failed to pass both chambers of Congress.

“One down, one to go,” said the House sponsor, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., in a telephone interview tonight. “The fact that John got it through the Senate is great.”

He said that there would be “tremendous historic significance” in the nation’s first black president pardoning the nation’s first black heavyweight champ. King added that he hoped the House will take up the resolution early next month.

Neither McCain nor the White House immediately responded to requests for comment Wednesday night. But in unveiling the resolution in April, McCain said, “We need to erase this act of racism which sent an American citizen to prison on a trumped-up charge.”

He also said he was sure that Obama would sign the legislation.

McCain and King are advocating the pardon along with filmmaker Ken Burns, whose 2005 documentary, “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson,” explored the case against Johnson and the sentencing judge’s admitted desire to “send a message” to black men about relationships with white women. Burns helped form the Committee to Pardon Jack Johnson, which filed a petition with the Justice Department in 2004 that was never acted on.

The resolution approved today says that the boxer should receive a posthumous pardon “for the racially motivated conviction in 1913 that diminished the athletic, cultural, and historic significance of Jack Johnson and unduly tarnished his reputation.” It says a pardon would “expunge a racially motivated abuse of the prosecutorial authority of the federal government from the annals of criminal justice in the United States.”

Johnson, a native of Galveston, Texas, won the 1908 world heavyweight title after police in Australia stopped his 14-round match against the severely battered Canadian world champion, Tommy Burns. That led to a search for a “Great White Hope” who could beat Johnson. Two years later, Jim Jeffries, the American world titleholder Johnson had tried for years to fight, came out of retirement but lost in a match called “The Battle of the Century,” resulting in deadly riots.

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Hold the Mayo (legally): New evidence may change … I forgot, what were we talking about?

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The Associated Press

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A suspended Grand Rapids Press sports columnist accused of growing marijuana at his home has turned down a plea agreement.

David Mayo tearfully issued a statement Tuesday outside Kent County Circuit Court, saying new information has come to light in his case and he has opted for a trial.

He declined to provide details.

Mayo was suspended from his job after being charged in February with a felony drug-possession count that carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

Police say a January raid on his home netted 71 marijuana plants and 32 ounces of pot in canning jars.

Prosecutors offered to let him plead guilty to a reduced felony drug charge that carries up to four years in prison. A misdemeanor drug charge would have been dropped.

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