If you’d like to know why steroids make a great story, ask the Chicago newspapers this week. They’ve taken one tiny insinuation made completely tongue-in-cheek by one columnist and turned it a tempest in a Theriot-sized teapot.
That Theriot would be petite Ryan Theriot, female fan favorite and infielder for the Chicago Cubs. He’s rattled off five home runs this spring after one all last year in a performance that reeks of small sample size. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES columnist Rick Telander then (mostly) jokingly accused The Riot of being juiced up because we can no longer trust anyone in baseball and so on.
Then the crosstown rival CHICAGO TRIBUNE asked Theriot and his teammates about the story and all hell broke loose.
It’s fair to say his Cubs teammates didn’t take well to the SUN-TIMES column, even understanding its intentions of highlighting cynicism in baseball. To quote:
“I think it’s insulting,” (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.
Manager Lou Piniella called it “absurd” and down the line the TRIBUNE went, roiling the masses and creating chatter for the local sports cognoscenti for another day.
(Best of all, the TRIBUNE refused to name the SUN-TIMES or Telander in their reaction piece. Catty.)
Of course, the most cynical action in all of this has to be Telander’s tack in writing the article, knowing he could get the reaction he did and roll on another news cycle or even two, ending up on “The Sports Reporters” or “Outside the Lines” or at least a local sports show.
After all, this is the same Chicago sports media that invented a story about a second NFL team in the city this week while safely hiding behind the notion that the discussion was merely theoretical. And then we’re off again.
So Rick Telander gets more news cycles than Theriot ever gets PED cycles and it’ll be Telander with the gleaming knight’s shield and Theriot back with his bat come Monday and we’ll ask the following theoretical question: can Chicago handle two newspaper sports departments or can both survive only if they use each other to fill newspaper inches?