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 been just about three weeks since Jay Mariotti “resigned” from his columnist gig at the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, and they’ve been an odd three weeks for Chicago sports fans. Without Mariotti telling them why all Chicago teams suck, fans are actually enjoying their team’s division races in baseball, and there is even some optimism about the Chicago Bears after the way they beat the Indianapolis Colts in week one of the NFL season.
When Mariotti did leave the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES he did so because he said it was his belief that newspapers were a dying business (though there are conflicting stories going around that Jay threw a hissy fit over Rick Telander getting to write a Barack Obama column and threatened to leave for the millionth time, and this time the SUN-TIMES just called his bluff).
I believe his exact words were: “I’m a competitor and I get the sense this marketplace doesn’t compete. Everyone is hanging on for dear life at both papers. I think probably the days of high-stakes competition in Chicago are over. To see what has happened in this business. … I don’t want to go down with it.”
So that must be why Jay was in negotiations with the CHICAGO TRIBUNE until lawyers from the SUN-TIMES threatened to sue.
If the fine folks at the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES knew that all it would take to get rid of sports columnist Jay Mariotti was to send him halfway around the world for an assignment, it would’ve happened long ago, I suspect.
Seventeen years later, and fresh off a stint in Beijing to cover the Olympics, one of the angriest, most vindictive, frullet-ed (and some say talented) journalists to ever to grace the pages of the Chicago paper, has resigned. (Going-away parade starts promptly at 5 PM. Pre -parade keg stands in Rick Telander’s office begin at noon).