Quantcast

We’ve all said it.

When Ryan Theriot started hitting bombs this year, we all made the same joke: he’s on the juice!

Naturally, we didn’t actually believe it, but it was of course the first thing that popped into everyone’s head during these days of the steroid culture. And it’s made its way into the headlines, as the Sun Times recently comment that Ryan Theriot is now under a cloud of suspicion, which blew up into the hottest story around town yesterday and today.

Theriot, of course, did not take too kindly to the insinuation. But was there really an insinuation at all?

Responding to the article titled, “Small hitter, big problem,” Theriot had a lot to say.

“I kind of laugh a little bit,” Theriot said. “I guess everybody is entitled to their own opinion. It’s unfortunate, like I said the other day, that it’s come to this. But I guess you can write whatever you want to write, and it’s up to the readers to forumlate their own opinion.”

Theriot said he stopped drinking protein shakes in 2005, and stopped using supplements as well, because he feared having some wrong ingredient show up in a test.

“For me, the risk-reward was never worth it to even take that chance on a protein shake,” he said. “My supplements for the last 4-5 years have been Gatorade and water.”

Theriot found is insulting to think he was a suspect just because he hit a few home runs.

“Last time I checked, I was a professional athlete who’s put up some decent numbers,” he said. “I guess anybody can do anything if you set your mind to it. I’ve always been under that belief. To be honest with you, I feel like I can go out there and pitch if I wanted to, so a few homers here and there…And remember, it’s only a few. It’s not like I’ve got 30.” Hardball.

Wow. Awfully defensive.

Of course, I do not say this in the methinks-thou-doth-protest-too-much way. I say it in the wow-whatever-the-Sun-Times-wrote-must-have-been-pretty-bad kind of way.

Except, the article was obviously written to make a larger point – not to inculpate Theriot for using substances. The writer was being ironic. Judge for yourself; emphasis added.

Sorry, Ryan Theriot, you’re a suspect. Forget Manny Ramirez and Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi and Mark McGwire and all the other hulking, accused performance-enhancing drug users.

You, sir, all 5-11, 175 pounds of you, are doing devious things.

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?

Well, yes, ”The Riot” hit only one dinger in 2008 and only five so far this year.

But if he were, say, Manny Ramirez (37 home runs in 2008), he would have just hit his 185th homer of 2009.

OK, the math is ludicrous. The whole proposition may be ludicrous. In fact, I’m pretty sure it [is].

But this is what baseball has wrought.

Rick Telander proceeds to indict MLB for its lax testing/caring/whatevering in the past 20 years. He’s saying that because of what MLB has allowed to happen, we are now forced to be suspicious of everyone.

And aren’t we?

The point being made was no more about Ryan Theriot as it was about Derrek Lee’s absurdly huge 2005 season, and subsequent falling off the map, for example.

So before you jump on the bandwagon, it might be worth reading articles with a critical eye. The headline – though intended to be eye-grabbing – does not tell the whole story. The article is actually a well-written, thoughtful piece that was thrown under the bus in the name of a scoop by rival publications. Lame.

  • http://www.anothercubsblog.net MB21

    I disagree. This article was about how Telander doesn’t believe a player can perform at a certain level over a small sample and that since he can’t believe it then he thinks it’s in some way tainted. That article was about Theriot. The bulk of the article was about Theriot. He actually provided what he thought was evidence to support his claim. Were this about the larger picture, that would not have been included. Besides, you don’t have to write the majority of what Telander did if he wants to talk about the larger issue. All he’d have to do is tell us the truth about what he knows and what he saw while covering this game. He’s too much of a coward to do that though.

    MLB has not forced us to be suspicious of anyone. Our own need to explain that which we find unbelievable has done that. Our own need to impugn the accomplishments of others has done that. Saying we should be suspicious of all MLB players is essentially the same as saying we should be suspicious of all Muslims. I’m far more concerned about a pitcher doctoring a baseball since doing so affects every single pitch he throws. There are ways to cheat that would be far more beneficial than steroids, but too many people ignore it. Fortunately, in a recent survey on The Book Blog, steroids concerned baseball fans barely at all. That’s a good sign. We’re moving in the right direction now and Rick Telander isn’t.

    Furthermore, Telander’s piece shows a complete and total lack of understanding about the game he is being paid to write about. Tuffy Rhodes had 6 home runs at the end of April and ended up with 8. Some of the best power hitters in the game have gone a month or longer without hitting one out of the park and then hit 10 in 15 games. Neifi Perez played at an all-star caliber level for 5 weeks in 2005. Over 45 plate appearances (the same as Ryan Theriot), a hitter can bat .450/.600/.1.500. Nobody is going to say anything about a batter hitting .450 over 45 plate appearances. We know it won’t continue. How is it that a man paid to write about the sport can’t figure out that if it’s true of batting average then it’s true of home runs, slugging, on-base, errors, wins, losses, etc?

    I actually don’t care so much about Telander writing about Theriot. I expect that kind of idiocy from the media. What angers me is that this man is being paid to write about baseball and shows in this article that he’s as qualified to do that as I suspect he is qualified to perform brain surgery later this afternoon. I’m fairly certain that no hospital would employ Telander today to perform one. Why is some newspaper employing him to write about something he is equally unqualified to write about? That’s what frustrates me. There are qualified sportswriters out there, but the old white media employs the ones who aren’t. It’s truly amazing.

  • http://www.hgh-supplements.us/ MB21

    I disagree. This article was about how Telander doesn’t believe a player can perform at a certain level over a small sample and that since he can’t believe it then he thinks it’s in some way tainted. That article was about Theriot. The bulk of the article was about Theriot. He actually provided what he thought was evidence to support his claim. Were this about the larger picture, that would not have been included. Besides, you don’t have to write the majority of what Telander did if he wants to talk about the larger issue. All he’d have to do is tell us the truth about what he knows and what he saw while covering this game. He’s too much of a coward to do that though.

    MLB has not forced us to be suspicious of anyone. Our own need to explain that which we find unbelievable has done that. Our own need to impugn the accomplishments of others has done that. Saying we should be suspicious of all MLB players is essentially the same as saying we should be suspicious of all Muslims. I’m far more concerned about a pitcher doctoring a baseball since doing so affects every single pitch he throws. There are ways to cheat that would be far more beneficial than steroids, but too many people ignore it. Fortunately, in a recent survey on The Book Blog, steroids concerned baseball fans barely at all. That’s a good sign. We’re moving in the right direction now and Rick Telander isn’t.

    Furthermore, Telander’s piece shows a complete and total lack of understanding about the game he is being paid to write about. Tuffy Rhodes had 6 home runs at the end of April and ended up with 8. Some of the best power hitters in the game have gone a month or longer without hitting one out of the park and then hit 10 in 15 games. Neifi Perez played at an all-star caliber level for 5 weeks in 2005. Over 45 plate appearances (the same as Ryan Theriot), a hitter can bat .450/.600/.1.500. Nobody is going to say anything about a batter hitting .450 over 45 plate appearances. We know it won’t continue. How is it that a man paid to write about the sport can’t figure out that if it’s true of batting average then it’s true of home runs, slugging, on-base, errors, wins, losses, etc?

    I actually don’t care so much about Telander writing about Theriot. I expect that kind of idiocy from the media. What angers me is that this man is being paid to write about baseball and shows in this article that he’s as qualified to do that as I suspect he is qualified to perform brain surgery later this afternoon. I’m fairly certain that no hospital would employ Telander today to perform one. Why is some newspaper employing him to write about something he is equally unqualified to write about? That’s what frustrates me. There are qualified sportswriters out there, but the old white media employs the ones who aren’t. It’s truly amazing.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  • Ace

    I agree with a lot of the substance of what you’re saying, MB, but obviously we just totally disagree on the point and tone of Telander’s article.

    I might be giving him too much credit, but the veiled idiocy in the article, to me, is intentional.

    I’m glad to hear that fans are getting past the steroid thing – it’s just a matter of time, and it’s for the better. But the thing is, when a guy like Manny Ramirez (regardless of how suspicious we should have been) tests positive, it’s huge. It brings it all back. And it sucks.

    Oh, and I’m with you on the guys who get paid to write about the Cubs. Some are good, some are merely ok, and some are terrible and make me wish one of the major publications would stumble onto this here web site sometime.

  • http://anothercubsblog.net MB21

    I think it’s pretty sad, but Carrie Muskat is the best Cubs beat writer. she does more with her access than all the others combined. Bruce Miles is occasionally OK, and rarely as bad as Paul Sullivan or Gordon Whiitenmeyer, but he’s still not very good. Neither is Muskat.

    If Theriot hitting 5 home runs in may is what got Telander to write the article he did about the bigger picture then he just isn’t very smart. I don’t really think it matters why he wrote it. I think it was because of theriot and you don’t, but the end result is the same: it proves Telander is an idiot.

    If he wrote it for the reasons you suggest then he’s an idiot because he hasn’t the foggiest clue about sample size and somehow compared what Theriot is doing to that of Bonds and McGwire and A-Rod and Manny.

    I don’t think telander is smart enough to do what you suggest. His past wok suggest someone who isn’t very bright and someone who has no understanding of the game.

    • Ace

      And I will totally confess that I don’t know Telander’s work from Adam (that is to say, I don’t know his work as well as others), so I’ll defer to you on that one.

      Muskat is not as terrible as folks in the Cublogoverse make her out to be. I think she’s constricted by her contacts. I think I’d give the nod to Miles as my favorite Cubs beat writer. Of course, I think there are several bloggers that I would put above all of them, but that’s another story.

      • pmayo

        Ace, the source of my criticisms of both Telander’s articles on this subject is Telander’s past. He was writing about steroids in 1988, then in 1989 he writes this glowing piece about Mandarich for the now infamous SI cover, when anyone with eyes could tell that Mandarich’ physique was straight out of a bottle. Then he’s largely silent on the topic until 99-00, when it became fashionable for sportswriters to write critically about steroid usage.

        Telander likes to arrogate a certain authority to himself in his writings, but if he knows so much, it seems odd that he wasn’t so boldly suspicious in 1989, whe, as we know from the Mitchell Report a “serious” steroid problem existed in MLB, and as an SI reporter, Telander had sufficient access to break that story. But remained silent, and now that it’s en vogue to be a skeptical sportswriter, he sees fit to smear Theriot (whether intentionally or not, it’s how his poorly argued and even more poorly researched article works) and blame MLB and the players while ignoring the role that the silence and “see no evil, speak no evil” approach of MSM sportswriters played in the steroid era. His piece in clumsy, inaccurate, and alarmingly myopic. A serious topic deserves serious argument. His piece doesn’t rise to that standard.

        • Ace

          I appreciate the background, pmayo. My reaction was a quick one, based only on the strict language of his original article, and the harsh reactions to it. I still feel fine about what I wrote, but I also feel like I have a whole lot more context now. My post was (intended to be) more a criticism of some of the reactions than to be a support for Telander’s article.

          Still, I’m learning.

          • pmayo

            Fair enough. I pretty much agree with what you wrote, although I do think Telander did accuse Theriot of using, albeit in a very veiled manner. Like I said, my stance is that if Telander wants to write about steroids, he should–but he needs to tell the whole story, including the role he played in it with the Mandarich article. But he doesn’t really want to talk about steroids; he wants to traffic in cheap innuendo that will drive up page hits.

            I think you’re right to caution against knee-jerk defenses of Cub players just because they’re Cub players, though. Close reading and thinking critically is something we should all encourage, because God knows the beat guys won’t!

  • http://anothercubsblog.net MB21

    The problem with bloggers is that they don’t have access. As far as analysis goes, there are numerous bloggers that are better than any of the Cubs beat writers. It’s not even close. The unfortunate part about this is that few of them use their access and instead try to analyze something, which they just aren’t competent enough to do. If they stuck with reporting and talking to the athletes, I’d be happy.

    • Ace

      In addition to the access issue, I would add the fact that most bloggers can’t do it as a full-time job – and speaking personally, that hurts the analysis, too. I wish I had more time to go into things than I do.

  • http://anothercubsblog.net MB21

    It hurts the analysis for sure, but it’s still significantly better than you’re going to read in the Tribune, Sun-Times or Daily Herald. The truth is that I don’t even bother to check those places out anymore unless a headline grabs my attention or someone posts a link. And even when I do read that stuff, I mostly skim it because it’s written at such a level that is quite frankly pathetic for someone who supposedly has a college education.

    I’m generally against any kind of analysis until there has been around 100 games played too. I think at that point we have a decent idea how that specific team is going to perform over the next 60 games. You still have to regress quite a bit, but at that point there is a decent amount of information available to perhaps influence opinions you may have had before the season began. Anything prior to that is, in my opinion, relatively ignorant to do because it shows little grasp for statistics and the importance of small sample sizes.

    I’ve been thinking about writing something on Mike Fontenot, but each time I start I’m led to the same place immediately: I simply don’t have much additional information now than I had before the season began. It’s true that at this point Fontenot’s production is more than 1 standard deviation away from what we expected, but it’s still not statistically significant difference. In other words, his production is still within what we know what his true skill level prior to the season. He’s underperformed, but there’s still no reason to adjust what we thought going into the season.

    I don’t write about Fontenot because although he’s not performed anywhere near expectations, he’s still performed within a range that makes it statistically insignificant. To add numbers to this discussion, Fontenot’s wOBA is .307. .300 is replacement level so he’s played quite poorly. .335 or so is average. He’s had 130 plate appearances. The variance in that amount of plate time from his true skill level is about 0.050. Fontenot’s true skill level prior to the start of the season was about .350. He’s performed within expectations. Anywhere from .300 to .400 is where we would expect Fontenot to be after 130 plate appearances. He’s sucked for sure, but it’s not surprising because of the sample.

    Many people would jump at the idea of analyzing him through this much of season and it’s not only the wrong thing to do, it also shows us that someone doesn’t understand statistics and/or this game.

    This is why I despise beat writers. All of them. Yes, Bruce Miles is better than the others, but being the best of the beat writers in Chicago is like being the tallest midget.

    Sorry for rambling.

    • Ace

      No sorry at all – I love the ramble. I learn every time you comment (or write – excellently – on ACB).

      I think avoiding biting analysis too early in the season is a great aspiration, but I know that I personally couldn’t do it. I may recognize that, intellectually, it’s unfair – but it’s just the nature of the fan beast. I’m not saying I want to be the guy who talks about something (or bitches about something) because he needs something to talk about, but it’s probably my message board background. Ironically – given this post – I’m a knee-jerk kind of guy. I try to fight it, but if a player – *cough* Milton Bradley *cough* – is sucking balls through five games or fifty games, I’m gonna get grouse-y.

      This is not, of course, a defense of the beat writers.

Bleacher Nation Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Bleacher Nation is a private media site, and it is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball or the Chicago Cubs. Neither MLB nor the Chicago Cubs have endorsed, supported, directed, or participated in the creation of the content at this site, or in the creation of the site itself. It's just a media site that happens to cover the Chicago Cubs.

Bleacher Nation is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Google+