UPDATED WITH FORBES' CORRECT RELATIONSHIP TO THE BOOK.
As I've blogged here incessantly, Matt McCarthy wrote Odd Man Out, a Viking Press tell-all I adored about his lone year as a lefty pitcher in the Angels minor league baseball system. Articles doubting the veracity of many salacious anecdotes have appeared all over the baseball and mainstream press diamond, with the most damning dissection coming from New York Times reporters Benjamin Hill and Alan Schwarz, who combed through old box scores and transaction listings to compile a detailed description of "facts" that are "incorrect, embellished or impossible."
This week found McCarthy on the defensive, telling USA Today he is bothered by having been "careless" with some details, "The crazier stuff would be difficult to forget, even if I hadn't taken notes." As previously reported, McCarthy has said he took detailed, daily notes while pitching for the Provo Angels, which after the 2004 season in question moved one Utah town over to become the Orem Owlz.
Providing the author the softest landing was Forbes magazine, whose polite "He's Not Baseball's James Frey" Q&A with McCarthy interestingly did not mention that Forbes posted on its website an excerpt that Sports Illustrated shared
had won exclusive rights to which after publishing an excerpt from Odd Man Out before it hit store shelves. (Viking, incidentally, says it will likely release a revised version of the book.) Forbes snidely took digs at typos and the butchering of Erick Aybar's name in the New York Times pieces.
Arriving late to this tee-ball party has been the LA Times, which just ran a piece by David Davis, who once toiled at our sister paper LA Weekly and has contributed articles to us on Chick Hearn and, most recently, USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Times' tardiness is unforgivable considering it is a minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Somesuch we're talking about here.
After Davis finally catches Angelenos up on the curveballs contained in the book subtitled "A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit" -- curveballs that have been chronicled extensively by Irvine's Stephen C. Smith on his FutureAngels.com website -- Davis concludes, "The controversy appears to be driving sales, with Odd Man Out climbing the bestseller lists. But with McCarthy's credibility undermined, it's clear that this book is no Ball Four or [A] False Spring."
Yeah, suck on that, McCarthy, on your, um, new yacht, My Viking Bonus.
McCarthy tells Davis he offered The Gray Lady's Hill and Schwarz a "point-by-point" rebuttal. Davis leaves it at that. He and the LA Times books editor obviously did not know that Schwarz had already essentially called the rebuttal claim a lie on Alex Belth's Bronx Banter blog. After a long Q&A with McCarthy, Belth encapsulates Schwarz's reaction in paragraph form:
Mr. McCarthy's claims that he was denied an opportunity to, in his words, 'rebut' his own errors are not only preposterous but adds to his growing list of outright falsehoods. Our interview spanned more than an hour and was comprised mostly of my describing to him every substantive error -- sometimes literally showing him things like transaction logs that proved he had the wrong person involved in some distasteful scene, and a copy of his own original contract that proved one quote-laden episode with Tony Reagins to be completely fabricated -- and explaining its relevance to the larger picture. He offered explanations for each of them (and I put the most relevant ones in the article so that his side was fairly represented). This went on for probably 10 or 12 of the most substantial errors, with my explaining at every juncture that, while some were clearly not that big of a deal, they called into question the veracity of many other, less provably false scenes that real people said had not happened as he described.
I said that I would be happy to quote portions of the journals he said corrorborated what he had written in the book; he declined to let me do so. I asked to speak with the teammates he claimed supported him; he declined to say who they were.
At the end of the interview, I asked Mr. McCarthy if there was anything he wanted to add, anything that was important given what the story was going to be about. He thought for a moment and said no. I then told him that if he realized there was anything he wanted to add or clarify, that he had my cell phone number and I would be available to him all day for as long as he wanted. He said OK. I have not heard from him since.
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This is getting much too serious from your man in far left field. I require the totally different take offered this week by Sportsman's Daily, which -- riffing off Odd Man Out's passages about Dominican players and their monstrous, uh, black bats -- offers "Outfielder Injures Eye in Freak Shower Incident Involving Fourteen Well-Endowed Dominicans." Set in the locker room of the Orem Owlz, the fictional tale follows a couple rooks stepping into the shower and setting upon " 14 Dominican teammates playfully brandishing their uniformly prodigious penises, as per post-game custom." But at least one errant penis injures the right eye of a newbie, sidelining him for 4-6 weeks.
"We warned him repeatedly not to go in there with the Domincans, unless of course you get a rise out of being the focus of a simulated gang rape," said Kent Butcher, the team's 24 year old backup catcher. "The good news is he got away with just an eye injury. Anything in the rectal area would be harder to explain away."
Whoever wrote it should team with McCarthy for the sequel.