The Cloud Over Carlos

adderall1Writing in the student newspaper of the University of Richmond, Liz Monahan pointed out several years ago how rampant the use and abuse of Adderall was becoming among collegians.  The amphetamine is prescribed legitimately for select students with ADD.  But the drug’s name begs its own question, ADD … er … all?

Amphetamines have been around in sports for a much longer time, and the suspension of the Phillies catcher, Carlos Ruiz (aka Chooch) by MLB for the unprescribed use of Adderall is not the first time that this cloud has hung around the City of Brotherly Glove. Controversy visited the state of Pennsylvania in 1985 during the trial of Philadelphia caterer Curtis Strong, who was evidently catering to appetites stronger than food. Although no baseball players were indicted, having been granted immunity by the prosecution for their testimony, many reputations were called into question.

Lonnie SmithPhilly fans of that era will recall that Lonnie Smith was a speedy left-fielder whose feet often came out from under him while chasing down balls, or even getting set for a throw.  As much as his speed was an asset on the basepaths (he had the 7th highest base stealing total of the 1980s), helping him finish with a hefty batting average for the 1980 Champeen Phils, he was a defensive liability and not much of an upgrade over Greg the Bull Luzinski.  A big reason why Smith’s feet came out from under him was that he was a drug addict, and there is a thing as too much speed.  Somehow Smith managed to hold it together well enough to part of three World Series winning teams in a six year span.  But he never lasted long in one place.

During the Curtis Strong trial, Smith reportedly testified that Phillies teammates Dickie Noles and Gary (“Sarge”) Matthews used amphetamines.  Though Sarge has denied the allegations, Noles has dedicated his post playing career to drug rehab and counseling.  He works with Phillies ballplayers at the major and minor league levels, and one wonders what advice he may have given to Chooch about amphetamine abuse.  During the trial, Smith identified Mike Schmidt, Nino Espinosa, and Bake McBride as amphetamine users. Smith also testified that St. Louis teammate Keith Hernandez, a talented first baseman now a broadcaster for the Mets, was a fellow cocaine user.  Under cross examination, Hernandez admitted his cocaine addiction and named Bake McBride, Nino Espinosa, Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinkski, Randy Lerch, and Pete Rose as players who allegedly used amphetamines, widely known as greenies.  All this gives new meaning to the ball and stick model of amphetamine.


ChoochChooch was interviewed by reporters in Clearwater after pitchers and catchers reported, and it’s fair to say that he was evasive about his amphetamine use.  “It’s something between me and my doctor” is all he would say.  We don’t know if he’s been diagnosed with ADD, with or without the H, and we don’t know why he continued to use Adderall even after he was caught green-handed the first time.  What we do know is that a record 116 major league players including Shane Victorino filed for a therapeutic use exemption for ADHD drugs last year, and Carlos was not one of them.  Get caught a third time, and the Phils would be Sans Carlos for 80 games.  If you’re all All-Star, baseball has been very, very good to you.  It’s time to be good back to baseball.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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4 Responses to The Cloud Over Carlos

  1. doctuhdon says:

    The excessive use and abuse of “legal” drugs is now the new normal for the <35 generation. From Red Bull to Adderall, this is a "speedy" generation.

  2. Sure is, though athletes may have been cheating for much longer than we realize, or would like to admit.

  3. Dean Shissias says:

    Here, here. Well said

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