So, last week, after hitting his fourth and fifth home runs of the year, and just after the Manny Ramirez saga broke and was chewed into media cud, Ryan Theriot was accused of using steroids. Sort of. The accusations came from generally respected (if occasionally loopy) Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander, who wrote that thanks to baseball's code of silence and cloud of cheating, Theriot too was a steroids "suspect."
Telander probably doesn't really believe that. What he does believe -- what his central point was -- was that this sort of rampant suspicion is what baseball has wrought on its fans. That now, even when we think performances are legitimate, there will always be that lingering suspicion, that shred of doubt. It's a valid point. It could have been more responsibly made.
In any case, Telander paid a visit to a miffed Theriot and wrote about it in his column today. The headline? "He hates it, but he gets it." The verdict? Ryan Theriot is a pretty reasonable, nice dude:
''I didn't like it very much,'' he said when asked about my piece. ''My obvious response is it's unfair, kind of hurtful, just because of the work I've put in and the way that I've gone about my business, the way I've lived my life to this point.'' But he knew what the larger point was. ''I understood the article itself,'' he said. ''The article does have a lot of validity to it.''
Theriot goes on to have a talk with Telander about how any baseball player can prove he's clean, and Theriot says "I guess you can't," which is not exactly true. For example, you could pay a doctor to independently administer blood tests for you, and you could publish the results. You could do this monthly. It may not be a 100 percent guarantee of cleanliness, but if we were Albert Pujols, we'd be doing this every day. It is possible to clear one's name preemptively. It's just not in baseball's culture to do so.
In any case, this was one of those athlete-columnist situations that most athletes would have been justified in freaking out over. Theriot, to his credit, didn't do that. We'll never know if cheats, but at least his "polite young man" status remains untainted.
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.