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Telander's Theriot Column: Much Ado About Nothing?

By Marcus Gilmer in Miscellaneous on May 16, 2009 3:15PM

If there's one things Cubs can get excited about this Spring, it's the emergence of Ryan Theriot as a power force to be reckoned with. As of today, Theriot is tied for second on the team with five homers and 17 RBIs, plus he boasts a .297 avg, a .372 slugging, and he is tied for first on the team with 38 hits. All five home runs this season have come in May and he only hit one all of last year. But at least one Chicago sportswriter is murmuring with concern.

In his column yesterday, Rick Telander makes a tenuous connection between Theriot and the likes of Manny Ramirez.

To wit, Theriot -- no disrespect, but if he's 5-11, I'm 6-12 -- hit two home runs Wednesday night at Wrigley Field against the Padres, giving him five times more home runs in 33 games this year than he hit all last season.

Brrinnnng! Eee -- ah! Eee-ah! Zzzt! Zzzzt!

That rings the steroid/HGH/ whatever-designer-drug-is-in bell, doesn't it?

Now, Telander - who we quite like, especially when he battles Mariotti - never accuses Theriot of taking steroids. In fact, later in the column, he says, "The whole proposition may be ludicrous. In fact, I'm pretty sure it [is]." So...what's the point? Well, in the end, Telander makes a bigger point of how Theriot's power surge is more indicative of the cynicism grasping baseball fans these days. In the era when even A-Rod and Manny are (allegedly) dirty, it's logical to question a tiny shortstop with a sudden power surge, right?

As for Theriot, he dismissed the allegation. Talking yesterday to the Tribune, he said, "I kind of laugh a little bit. I guess everybody is entitled to their own opinion. It's unfortunate, like I said the other day, that it has come to this. But I guess you can write whatever you want to write, and it's up to the readers to formulate their own opinion." Pitcher Ryan Dempster said, "I know it's all in fun, and 'Ha, ha, ha,' but in today's game ... to me, I think that's just a poor way of [making the point], because somehow, someway, someone will take that article seriously." In fact, the longer the Trib article goes, the more defensive the Cubs seem.

Ultimately, Telander doesn't accuse Theriot of 'roiding and, if anything, is simply guilty of using a bad example to make (if not necessarily rehash) a point. After all, four of Theriot's homers have come against two teams and everyone who watches baseball knows it's a game of streaks. And yet, the Trib article goes overboard in defending Theriot and the end result of all of this is to completely undermine Theriot's accomplishments. The battle between the papers (the Trib doesn't mention Telander or the Sun-Times by name) is nothing new and the fact it undermines an accomplishment of a solid player is likewise nothing new. It's the kind of things media of all ilk (yes, blogs included) has done since...well, since the invention of the medium. And, sadly, it'll continue, especially with a topic as controversial as steroids.

Whatever the case, we're still behind The Riot and hope his surge continues.

On a related note - Swing by our sister site Houstonist for a chance to question Roger "The Rocket" Clemens, a player who's more at the center of the steroid controversy than Theriot ever will be.