Ryan Theriot is my favorite Giant this season.
I will now attempt to explain why. I don’t plan to succeed, but I’ll try.
Buster Posey is such a trendy pick. So is Pablo Sandoval, or Matt Cain, and even Sergio Romo. I still love those guys, don’t get me wrong, but for different reasons. I love them for their on-field performances. Theriot wasn’t doing much on the field.
He is an everyman. He’s about as far from a prototypical DH as it gets – Theriot had an OPS of .637 and hasn’t hit a home run since June 9 … of 2011. But he’s the class clown; the kid you picked last in kickball. He is like me, and that’s why I love him.
There isn’t a single sport that I was ever good at. Even today, I’m an average baseball player at best with a noodle arm. I’ve got no skills on the basketball court whatsoever. I was a 155 lb nose tackle in high school because I was slow and couldn’t catch the football. Still, I had heart and I loved to play.
That’s what 5’11” 185 lb, 17-career home run-hittin’ Ryan Theriot is. All heart.
The guy is a cult hero, and he’s also the most .GIFable figure on the Giants this year. Actually, scratch that. Theriot is the most .GIFable Giant ever. Perhaps the most .GIFable ATHLETE ever. Exhibit A (this, and all .GIFs, via @gidget):
I’ll never forget when he photobombed BASG’s Javier Lopez interview during my first trip into the Giants’ clubhouse, or when his ass broke Aubrey Huff’s hand.
Remember when Theriot was the everyday second baseman for the Giants this year? Seems like a decade ago. Marco Scutaro showed up at the trade deadline, and got a hit every time he stepped into the box. There was just no way that Theriot would supplant that. He had his hot streak midseason, but with the emergence of Scutaro and his unstoppable bat, Theriot became an afterthought … on the field.
What we overlook is how tough it is to take a backseat like that. These are guys that love to play ball. The new guy came into town and Theriot stepped aside without an issue. Never a complaint. Never a bad word said. The guy must have been dying to play with his team, especially down the stretch towards the playoffs and into the World Series.
Instead, he hung on the same part of the dugout railing for every game. He kept the team loose. He kept us all laughing and he cheered every player’s accomplishments; even the guy who replaced him. He stayed ready for his name to be called. Then Bochy named Theriot his DH in Game 4 of the World Series and I was ecstatic.
Trying to tell people why that excited me was difficult. Everyone’s calling for Joaquin Arias, and there I am, going nuts over Theriot appearances:
“Dude, I just know it. He is going to do something – SOMETHING WEIRD – to help the Giants win this game!”
Theriot went 0-for-3 as a DH, and I was all like:
But then he hit a bloop single in the 10th and got knocked in by Scutaro, and the kid inside of me – the one that used to get stomped in dodgeball everyday – jumped over the dugout railing and was all like:
See, Theriot scored that winning run for average guys everywhere. I can’t relate to Posey’s pure abilities, or Pablo’s power hitting or Cain’s perfect pitching. I can relate to being knocked down. I can relate to being replaced. I can relate to not hanging my head and coming through when it counts.
Plenty of folks will buy their Scutaro jerseys to remember this year’s championship. I can’t blame them. It makes perfect sense. But I’m weird, so maybe I’ll get myself a Theriot jersey instead. I don’t really care how people look at me or how obscure it is; I’ll never forget the quiet, hilarious hero that lifted the Giants to a 2012 title.