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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