Notes from around the Human Experience…
ADVANTAGE: MEN: Former professional tennis player John McEnroe opened his yap last week and, not for the first time, something that ended up controversial came out.
It was actually fairly innocuous, though this did not stop an awful lot of people from getting their shorts in a knot over it.
In an NPR interview, McEnroe said Serena Williams – who has 39 career Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles and may well be the greatest women’s tennis player ever – would rank “like 700th” on the men’s tour.
It was a pretty harmless remark, actually. Like McEnroe says, comparing male and female athletes is like comparing apples and oranges.
That’s Not Going To Stop Us From Doing It However: Of course a top women’s tennis champion, even one as splendid at Ms Williams, could not compete with top men’s players. Men are bigger, stronger and faster than women. It’s the way the world is built.
A Fond Remembrance: Regular readers of this crap may recall our column several years ago on what the NCAA Women’s Division I 100-meter champion’s time was and where that time would have placed her in an NCAA men’s 100-meter final. As it turned out, it would have qualified her for the NCAA Men’s Division III 100 meter final, where she would’ve finished off the medal stand.
There’s Going To Be Some Dry, Technical Matter Coming Up, Isn’t There: Inspired by that seminal work, we compared the apples and oranges that were the men’s and women’s 100-meter races at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The gold medals were won by Usain Bolt at 9.81 seconds and Elaine Thompson at 10.71 seconds.
So, what would 10.71 seconds have gotten Ms Thompson in the men’s races? Not a place in the final, where 8th place time was 10.06 seconds.
Dry, Technical Matter: 10.71 seconds – which we want to reiterate is a really, really fast time – would have gotten Ms Thompson out of the preliminaries and into the first round of men’s qualifying heats. It would not have gotten her any farther, because the slowest qualifying time for the semifinals was 10.20 seconds.
We’re Sure There’s A Point Around Here Somewhere: This is all just context, of course, because track is a sport where performance can be objectively measured. The clock doesn’t lie. Neither do Ms Williams’ 39 Grand Slam titles and it would interesting to see if she could win a match in the men’s draw of Grand Slam tournament.
BECAUSE IT WAS THERE: France’s Charles Blondin becomes the first person to tightrope across Niagara Falls on this date in 1859. 25-years-old at the time, Blondin had come to America in 1855.
Running, Er, Tightroping The Numbers: Blondin traveled 1,100 feet across Niagara Gorge, 160 feet above the water. He would traverse Niagara Falls on tightrope several more times during his career, including once carrying a contraption that allowed him to prepare and consume an omelet halfway across without falling into the water.
Editor’s Note: The following On This Date item actually happened on June 29, but Gaylon didn’t realize it until he had finished writing the item, so it is included.
Get Out Your History Books: The Chicago Cubs, then known as the Colts, defeat the Louisville Colonels 36-7 on June 29, 1897. The 36 runs established a major league record that still stands.
The Colts scored in every inning, including 15 runs they really didn’t need in the last two innings and Louisville’s defense did its part, committing nine errors
Louisville starting pitcher Chick Fraser gave up 14 runs in 2⅓ innings. He was replaced by Jim Jones, making his major league debut, and he was hardly a puzzle, giving 22 runs, 14 earned, in 6⅔ innings.
The Long And Winding Road: Jones was released soon after this and would pitch one more game in the majors, for the New York Giants in 1901 and Jones left the mound for good with a career ERA of 15.43 in 11⅔ major league innings. He would also rack up 87 games in the outfield for the Giants, where he wasn’t any good, either retiring with a .230 batting average and making 19 errors in 87 games, which is a lot, even for back then.
Great Moments In Picking Up Chicks: The first Corvette rolls off the Chevrolet assembly lines on this date in 1953. 300 Corvettes were produced that first year, and over the years almost 1.6 million Corvettes have rolled off the assembly line.
Well, This Wasn’t In The Flight Plan: Three Soviet cosmonauts die returning to Earth on this date in 1971. Flying aboard Soyuz 11, the crew was returning from a rendezvous with the space station Salyut 1. The three were found suffocated in their spacecraft after landing, and the investigation showed their capsule had depressurized on reentry.
Thought For The Day: Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not… – Patrick Henry, Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death Speech to Virginia legislature, 3/23/1775
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: In addition to its treaty with Germany, the US also signed peace treaties with Austria and Hungary at the end of World War I.
Today’s Stumper: In what year were the most Corvettes produced? – Answer next time!