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Fallout From a Ryan Theriot Column

As of last Thursday, the realms of sublime and real finally merged in baseball. We didn't know it beforehand, but the article that brought those two worlds together would appear in the Chicago Tribune, and it would accuse a light hitting shortstop of using steroids.

More amazingly, the article in question -- this piece by Sun Times columnist Rick Telander -- makes a case that seems utterly plausible.

In Telander's story, he cast aspersions on the career-best power surge of Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot, who has hit five home runs in only 33 games this year after entering the season with seven in his career.

That's right, within the first third of a season, Theriot has nearly matched his career total of homers. As Telander points out, Theriot has anything but the typical physique of a power hitter. He has no track record of explosive power, and he entered the season with plenty of questions about whether he could fill the void in the lineup left by Mark DeRosa's bat.

To say that he has, and then some, is an understatement. Theriot is hitting .297. His slugging percentage and OPS are higher than at any time in his career when he's played more than 50 games.

So how is Theriot doing it? It's not like he has more protection in the Chicago lineup; he has less. It's not like Theriot is suddenly swinging with a golfer's drive, he's still swinging for contact.

What's the difference?

I sure can't tell, and neither can Telander. That's why he wrote the piece. Understandably, Theriot is none too happy that he was the primary focus of a piece dedicated to how all baseball players could be drug cheats. To its credit, the Sun-Times ran a piece the next day detailing Theriot's criticism of Telander and the article itself.

Yet in the end, even Theriot seems to understand that this entire era of players are doomed to perennial doubts about their achievements.

"It's more what the game has come to." Theriot said. "The headline could have been written differently. When you read something like that, it associates you with something you don't want to be associated with."

By Cameron Smith  |  May 18, 2009; 2:02 PM ET
Categories:  Cubs  
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