Alaska's Prince William Sound, 125 miles east of Anchorage, is so teeming with wildlife that one local says boating on it "is kind of like sailing through a zoo." In declaring the sound a disaster area on Sunday, two days after a 10-million-gallon crude-oil spill covered 100 square miles of water with patches of oil. Governor Steve Cowper said, "This may well be the greatest disaster to hit Alaska since the Good Friday earthquake."
That earthquake struck Anchorage almost exactly 25 years before last week's spill and killed 131 people. No human beings died in the oil spill, but the toll on the environment promises to be catastrophic. It began when the 978-foot tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef, 25 miles southwest of Valdez, and sustained punctures in eight of its cargo holds. Prince William Sound is largely enclosed, which should prevent the oil from floating out to sea, where it might do less damage. Each year the sound supports a $100 million fishing industry. Fred Tiedeman, a fisherman from the soundside town of Tatitlek, spoke for his colleagues when he asked, "Who is going to buy my fish when they know where I got them from?"
In addition to fish, thousands of seals, porpoises, ducks and gulls populate the sound. The area is also home to bald eagles, and in a few weeks about 10 million migratory birds and waterfowl will begin arriving. But biologists were most worried about three species: sea otters, whose fur, once it is fouled by oil, loses its ability to insulate; young salmon now leaving their native streams for the sound, where they are apt to feed on oil-contaminated plankton and die; and spawning herring, whose eggs might be smothered by the oil.
April 2, 1989
The spill resulted from human error. According to the Exxon Shipping Company, which owns the tanker, Exxon Valdez was at least a quarter-mile out of the shipping lanes when it hit Bligh Reef, a well-marked navigational hazard in the sound. Further, the tanker was being guided by the third mate, Gregory Cousins, who was not licensed to pilot the ship in the sound. Captain Joseph Hazelwood was reportedly in his cabin at the time. After the accident Hazelwood, Cousins and the ship's helmsman, Robert Kagan, were given blood-alcohol tests. The results were not available as SI went to press.
Cleanup operations were agonizingly slow getting started. The Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, which is responsible for the first response to spills in the area, was supposed to have oil-containment equipment on the scene within five hours. Alyeska took 12 hours to arrive at the spill. "On this one occasion, I'd have to say yes, we were behind," said an Alyeska official.
The spill—the largest ever in U.S. waters—is too large to contain and skim up. Some of it will be burned off. By last Saturday Exxon had begun testing chemical dispersants, which bond to the oil and sink it as well as dilute it. But dispersants often present a cruel trade-off: Though they may keep the oil from reaching beaches, their solvents could leave a compound in the water that is toxic to creatures living in and on the sound. Exxon has reassured local fishermen that it will compensate them for their losses. Of course, such promises are no solace to dead and dying wildlife.
Much ado resulted when Prince Charles's thoroughbred. Devil's Elbow, won a hurdles race in December in Worcester, England. The win appeared to have broken His Royal Highness's long string of horse racing misfortunes. Allibar, Charles's first steeplechaser, died during a training gallop. And as a jockey, the Prince has suffered numerous nasty falls.
Alas, after reviewing the results of a postrace drug test, Britain's Jockey Club erased Charles's victory. Devil's Elbow had apparently been under the influence of three banned stimulants: caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. Charles and his trainer were absolved of responsibility—the Jockey Club deemed that Devil's Elbow had been fed the drugs inadvertently, in a dose of medicine. The Prince was, however, asked to return the $1,156 winner's purse. Perhaps His Royal Highness should stick to polo.
Fordham University's baseball season is 49 games long. As we shall see, it is probably a good thing for freshman Santy Gallone—and his loved ones—that it is not longer.
On March 14, in his first at bat against Fairleigh Dickinson, Gallone, a righthanded hitter who plays third base for the Rams, was hit below the left eye. He refused to leave the game and went 2 for 4 on the day.
Against Rider College the next day, Gallone, who had donned a clear plastic protective mask, was plunked on the left shoulder. Against Fairfield on March 18, he was hit on the left hand. In the first game of the next day's doubleheader, also against Fairfield, Gallone stopped a fastball with his chest. In the nightcap, Gallone, who by now had scrapped his protective mask—it interfered with his breathing, he said—was again hit below the left eye. And again he refused to leave the game. But he was not above redonning the mask.
In the top of the seventh inning of that game, Gallone was barreled over by a base runner who was coming into third. Then, while trying to score from third on a ground ball that same inning, Gallone hit the Fairfield catcher so hard that Gallone cracked his own helmet and cut his face in three places. Gallone was nailed at the plate, but Fordham won the game 4-3, and Gallone finished with four hits in five at bats.
There's more. Against Hofstra on March 22, Gallone was hit three more times, on the left forearm, left triceps and left calf. He hasn't been hit since, but still sports traces of a nasty black eye. "It hurts on occasion," says Gal-lone, who crowds the plate something fierce when he's at bat. "It all depends on where they get you. But my main objective is to get on base. It doesn't matter how."
THE SOGGIEST SEASON
Eighteen games into the University of Washington's baseball season, the Huskies were undefeated. That was the good news. The bad news was that the team's record was only 1-0. The other 17 games had been postponed because of rain or snow.
"The players took it well," said coach Bob MacDonald before the Huskies left sodden Seattle for California to play eight games during spring break. "They wanted to beat somebody. They were really anxious to get their feet wet."
Pause. "I guess I shouldn't have said that."
A CLOSE CALL
Clint Malarchuk was incredibly composed, all things considered. The Buffalo Sabre goalie had just had his external jugular vein opened by a skate blade in a goalmouth scrum in the first period of Buffalo's 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. After kneeling on the ice for some 15 seconds, as his blood gushed in an arc and created a pool in front of him, Malarchuk skated off the ice under his own power. "I have three minutes to live," he told Buffalo trainer Jim Pizzutelli.
Pizzutelli applied pressure to the six-inch wound to stanch the bleeding, and Malarchuk was rushed to The Buffalo General Hospital, where his jugular was sewn back together. The next day, Malarchuk was conducting interviews at bedside.
Two nights after his near-fatal accident, Malarchuk, dressed in street clothes, waved to the Sabre crowd before Buffalo's game against Vancouver and received a standing ovation. He could be back in goal as early as the first round of the playoffs.
Malarchuk, however, wasn't the night's only casualty. Medical personnel at Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium treated nine people who fainted and dozens of others who became queasy at the sight of his blood.
Two weeks ago, by a vote of 5-2, the school board of Georgetown, S.C., approved the hiring of a new football coach at the high school. Last fall, the Bulldogs finished 0-11, so the board members were on the lookout for someone who could turn things around—fast. They think they have their man in Lou Saban.
"I've been doing it all my life, resurrecting teams from the dead," said the 67-year-old Saban. "I find it most enjoyable."
Saban's last stop was at South Fork High—that's in Florida, not Texas. Under Saban, South Fork was 3-7 in 1988. Lest you conclude that Saban has lost his touch, consider this: The team had won only two games in the three seasons going into '88.
Saban is best known for his nearly 15 seasons in the NFL, during which he coached three teams. But since 1950 he also has coached eight college and two high school teams, to say nothing of a 19-day stint as athletic director at the University of Cincinnati and one year as president of the New York Yankees.
Will Saban cut and run after one or two seasons, as he has from his last three jobs? The Nomadic One says no: "I don't think there are any moves left for me to make. It's time I put down some roots."
WAS THE X FACTOR A FACTOR?
Right now, there's an X factor. You don't know what the X factor is, but you do know you re reaping the benefits.
—STEVE COURSON (SI, May 13, 1985)
With the story from which the above quotation was taken, Steve Courson became one of the first NFL players to acknowledge publicly that he used steroids. At the time, Courson had just stopped using anabolic steroids after a physical exam revealed that his standing heart rate was an alarming 150 beats per minute.
Then an offensive guard with the Tampa Bay Bucs, Courson was as unapologetic as he was frank in detailing how and why he had taken Dianabol, Anadrol-50, Anavar and Winstrol. "In order to compete in this business, you absolutely have to know the pluses and minuses that come along with using steroids," he said. "Maybe kidney and liver disease when you're older."
Maybe worse. Courson, who retired at the end of the 1985 season after nine years in the NFL, now has dilated cardiomyopathy, or, as his cardiologist, Richard Rosenbloom, says, "Steve's heart is stretched and dilated. It is flabby and baggy and doesn't pump as a normal heart should." This week, Courson was to undergo tests to determine whether he needs a heart transplant. "His long-term prognosis is better with a heart transplant than it is in his present condition," Rosenbloom told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week. Although Courson may take experimental drugs for his heart, Rosenbloom told SI that he thinks Courson will need a transplant.
Rosenbloom doesn't link Courson's heart disease to his use of anabolic steroids, but the cardiologist refuses to rule the drugs out as a contributing factor. "I'm more suspicious of a virus," says Rosenbloom, pointing out that steroid use usually results in "a thickening, hypertrophying of the heart"—the opposite of what has happened to Courson's heart. "But we don't know that Steve's condition is not the result of many years of heavy anabolic steroid use. We just don't know. There's not that much research."
A number of Courson's former teammates in Pittsburgh, where he played with the Steelers for the first seven years of his career, have set up a fund to help defray his medical expenses, which will be considerable if a heart transplant is necessary. "My support group—my folks, my friends, my girlfriend—has been unbelievable," says Courson. "I was pretty depressed for a while."
Before announcing his retirement at last week's NFL meetings, commissioner Pete Rozelle strengthened the league's antisteroid policy. Beginning at this summer's training camps, a player testing positive for steroids faces a suspension of 30 days for a first offense; for a second breach he will be out for the season. Heretofore, the NFL had no official policy for punishing steroid users.
"But those tests can be beaten," says Courson, who has almost finished writing a book describing his use of steroids in the NFL. He hopes it will make high school students fearful of taking the drugs. "What we really need is additional research on the effects of steroids," says Courson.
Until that research is done, steroid users must continue to coexist uneasily with the X factor.
THEY SAID IT
•New York Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly, before facing the Mets' Dwight Gooden in an exhibition game: "His reputation preceded him before he got here."
•Jacksonville (Ala.) State basketball coach Bill Jones, when asked if his Gamecocks' 37-point win over Kentucky Wesleyan in the NCAA Division II tournament was beyond his wildest dreams: "My wildest dreams don't have basketball in them."