NARDIL AND ASU
The beleaguered athletic program at Arizona State is in the news again because a psychiatrist hired as a consultant by the university has prescribed an antidepressant, Nardil, for some baseball players. The psychiatrist, Dr. James Gough, says the drug is effective in combating the kind of tension that brings on batting slumps.
Nardil is a dangerous, potentially lethal medication given mainly to severely depressed persons to keep them out of asylums. But Gough, who is paid $24,000 a year in consulting fees by the university, apparently views the medication as a remedy for much less serious stress and anxiety. With Nardil, he says, "We are able to teach people who 'choke under pressure' to overcome their fears in a very short time." Over the last eight years, he has dispensed the drug to some 900 ASU students, reportedly including eight athletes.
If taken with certain things, such as beer, cheese and wine, Nardil can induce uncontrollable high blood pressure and even death. "You can get it if you ask for it, and even if you don't," one unidentified ASU ballplayer told The Arizona Republic. Upset because he wasn't hitting, the player was sent by the coaching staff to Gough for help. Gough allegedly prescribed Nardil, which the player said he thought was a vitamin. "The doctor never told me anything about it," he said. "Just that it would make me feel better."
Gough insists, however, that he scrupulously warns patients of the drug's dire side effects. Still, Dr. Robert Voy, chief medical officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee, says Nardil should be used only as a last resort in cases of extreme depression.
A panel of medical experts assembled by the university is investigating the use of the drug by ASU athletes. The Nardil probe is just the latest incident involving the school, which in the last 21 months has been penalized by the Pac-10 for violations in five sports.
The Nardil controversy played a part in the resignation last week of ASU athletic director Dick Tamburo and even had baseball coach Jim Brock thinking about resigning his job of 14 years (he later decided to remain as coach). Gough has occasionally prescribed Nardil for Brock, too.
PEDALING HER CASE
By the time Pat Hines had pedaled to Atlantic City, she was hallucinating 8-foot bunny rabbits. Mailboxes turned into surfboard-wielding pygmies and Amish farmers took on a Mephistophelian appearance. Having held the handlebars too tightly too long, her right fist was clenched in a grip that required surgery to unspring. After 12 days of last summer's Race Across America, she was experiencing the physical and psychic pain of 3,042 miles on a bike.
Though Hines finished in a tie with the other top woman, Shelby Hayden-Clifton, it didn't mean a thing. All four female entrants in the field of 23 were disqualified. A world-class cyclist and former All-America swimmer, Hines claims she and the other women were jobbed by a race rule that removes from contention any cyclist who reaches the Mississippi River Bridge near St. Louis 36 hours after the leader. Hines, who says she invested $40,000 and two years of training in the event, is threatening to sue the race organizers and ABC Sports for damages.
As Hines sees it, the race committee arbitrarily set up rules that exploited women for television glamour. "I was tricked," she says. "The Race Across America just romanced women cyclists to have them be part of ABC's cast of characters." Race officials have nevertheless invited Hines back for this year's competition. They've also divided the event into two divisions so that women will have their own champion.
NOT IN BAIN
Last week in Iowa City a jury awarded Jim Bain, a veteran Big Ten basketball official, $12,230 from a local couple who made and sold T shirts depicting him with a noose around his neck and bearing the words JIM BAIN FAN CLUB.
Three years ago Bain had called a charging foul on Iowa near the end of a game with Purdue. A Boilermaker made the free throw, which won the game. But replays indicated that Bain had blown the call. The Hawkeye coach at the time, Lute Olson, fumed that Bain and his crew "deserve to be in jail."
John and Karen Gillispie, owners of Hawkeye John's Trading Post in Iowa City, soon were selling T shirts with a puffy, red-nosed caricature of Bain, his neck encircled by a hangman's noose. Bain was pained. He got an injunction preventing the sale of more shirts and sued for invasion of privacy.
The Gillispies sued him back, claiming "referee malpractice." They alleged the foul had cost Hawkeye John's potential sales of Iowa memorabilia, but state courts dismissed their case. "It is bad enough when Iowa loses," said District Court Judge Ansel Chapman, "without transforming a loss into a litigation field day for Monday morning quarterbacks."
Bain had promised to quit officiating if he lost his suit. Though he hasn't worked a game in Iowa City since that call, he still hears cries of "Hang Jim Bain" around the conference. Of course, these fans may be jumping to conclusions. The Gillispies maintained that the likeness of Bain that graced their T shirts wasn't Bain hanging, just choking.
Passing time the other day, Dodger manager Tom Lasorda got to musing, for some reason, about what kind of salad ingredients some of his players would make. Herewith are Lasorda's fanciful conclusions: "Pedro Guerrero is the lettuce. Mike Marshall is the dressing. Mike Scioscia is the radish. Al Oliver is the anchovy. Ken Landreaux is the garlic." Lasorda's listeners chuckled politely, and the conversation rambled elsewhere. But when Landreaux heard he had been named the Designated Garlic, he complained to Lasorda that there was a bad odor to the whole thing. Lasorda, who is nothing if not flexible, cheerfully announced the next day that Landreaux had been shifted from the garlic position. He would now play the olive.
JUSTICE MAKES A PITCH
Richard Curry delivers his opinions hard but not especially fast. In the first inning of a contest to decide whether the Cubs can install lights at Wrigley Field, the Cook County circuit court judge took 89 days to retire the team, major league baseball and commissioner Peter Ueberroth in order. Curry refused to overturn state and local laws which ensure that the Cubs play their home games in the light of day.
In a sometimes grandstanding 64-page decision, Curry accused the Cubs and baseball of greedy tinkering and ignoring communities around the ball park "so that television royalties might more easily flow into the coffers of 25 distant sports moguls." He also singled out Ueberroth, who had threatened the Cubs with "drastic consequences," such as fines and the loss of postseason home games, if Wrigley were not lit. At stake is several million dollars in TV revenue if the Cubs make the playoffs and World Series, a meager reward for trashing a tradition that goes back to baseball's roots.
RUN, YIANNIS, RUN
A couple of dozen centuries after Pheidippides, another Greek has burst upon the ultrarunning scene. He's 28-year-old Yiannis Kouros, a stadium caretaker and folk singer from the Athenian suburb of Tripoli.
At the International Association of Ultra Runners' 48-hour world championship last month, Kouros ran 281 miles, 70 yards on a 400-meter track in Montauban, France. He edged his nearest competitor by 18 miles. Indeed, Kouros's winning distance was 15 miles better than his old, unofficial 48-hour record, set last July in the first two days of a six-day race on New York's Randalls Island. He took the six-day by 50 miles, piling up 635½ miles and thus establishing another world mark, while lugging a portable radio and a small Greek flag.
"I suppose his next logical step would be a world record in the 1,000-mile," says Malcolm Campbell, a Briton who finished 13th in this year's championship. "Kouros is quite a phenomenon." Campbell could hardly resist adding, "Of course, he's never run a particularly fast marathon."
But that's understandable. It takes some people 26 miles just to warm up.
THE END OF THE AFFAIR
The curious case of Hayden (Sidd) Finch, as revealed by George Plimpton in last week's issue, came to a resolution Monday in St. Petersburg. The eccentric flamethrower, whose pitches reportedly had been clocked at 168 mph, kept his promise to tell the baseball world on April 1 whether he'd join the New York Mets or concentrate on the French horn.
The Mets called a 12:30 p.m. press conference at Al Lang Stadium and formally unveiled Finch to the media. Reading from a statement written in a stilted, anachronistic style (he referred to the Mets as the Metropolitans and to Mel Stottlemyre and Davey Johnson as Melvin and David, respectively), Finch explained that the pinpoint accuracy required to harness his astonishing fastball had deserted him. "The Perfect Pitch," said the Mystic Met, "once a thing of harmony, is now an instrument of Chaos and Cruelty."
Finch thanked the team for allowing him to try out, in particular "Melvin" for showing him the slider (a phenomenon, he said, unknown in the Himalayas), and apologized to catcher Ronn Reynolds for brutalizing his glove hand.
He then gave a gallant wave and walked away, very much alone.
THEY SAID IT
•Yogi Berra, New York Yankees manager, on a fancy White House dinner he attended recently: "It was hard to have a conversation with anyone, there were so many people talking."
•Joe Meriweather, Kansas City Kings center, on the team's dwindling home attendance: "At least now I can find my wife in the crowd."