This is what steroids do. Forget all the records. They're just numbers in a book. Lose your outrage. It's bad for your health. What steroids really do, where they really hurt, is in the way they corrupt every player merely by suspicion. The more we learn about the steroids era, the more we're inclined to believe everyone was using something, but the problem is that some players weren't. Some players don't. And for those players, the ones who deserve a clean reputation, there's no recourse.
Which brings us to Ryan Theriot. The other day, the Sun-Times' Rick Telander wrote the following sentence, partially in jest:
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.
Naturally, this amounts to an accusation of steroid use -- whether joking or not -- and Ryan Theriot is not too pleased about that:
"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."
A fair response. Theriot seemed to handle the questions well, seeing as the questions basically were "Hey, this guy says you're on 'roids. Care to discuss?" The problem with Telander's column is not his point (that everyone is a suspect in Major League Baseball now, thanks to the league and its players) but the way he makes it. Calling Ryan Theriot out in your first paragraph, accusing him of "devious things," -- these are great ways to get people fired up but not so great ways to responsibly discuss a somewhat serious topic.
Instead, Telander's point is lost in this Theriot hubbub. He has no one to blame but himself. It's a shame, too, because the point is valid. This is what steroids cost us. We should probably spend less time pointing disingenuous fingers and more time reflecting on the ways to beat this psychological nonsense. That is, if we even care anymore. Steroid outrage is so last year.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.