Gelf Magazine has a lengthy interview with Odd Man Out author Matt McCarthy. Click Here to read the interview.
McCarthy continues to peddle the line that any inaccuracies are simply mistaken dates. But as I documented on March 6, it’s a lot more than the wrong date on the calendar. Key events in the book simply couldn’t have happened.
Angels minor leaguer Chris Rosenbaum comments on “Odd Man Out” in his latest blog entry.
Angels minor league catcher Chris Rosenbaum kept a blog journal last year during his season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. It was widely acknowledged by fans of the Angels’ minor league system as a humble yet honest insight into the life of a minor leaguer.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that Chris would comment on Odd Man Out, the book published by former Angels minor leaguer Matt McCarthy. Click Here to read Chris’s comments on the book.
This paragraph pretty much sums up his sentiment:
I have not read the book, and have no intentions of reading it. However, I have read excerpts and spoken to individuals surrounding the stories told within the covers, and have formed my opinion that this work was an attempt to hurt people for personal gain. Many things discussed in this book, whether true or not (and much evidence is piling up suggesting the latter), occurred in the inner sanctum of a clubhouse or related team functions.
Strictly my opinion, those on the Internet defending this book want to see athletes knocked off their pedestal. Never mind the athletes never asked to be placed on that pedestal. But there will always be those who are jealous of people who are successful in life. A “tell-all” book, accurate or not, that claims to reveal the foibles of athletes might give comfort to those who feel inferior and insecure about their own lives.
Unfortunately, that goes with the territory on the Internet. People can hide behind the anonymity of their modem and attack others with behavior that would get a punch in the nose if they tried it in public.
Come to think of it, McCarthy may have thought he could embellish his book without consequences, because he’d never run across the people whose integrity he attacked in the book. It remains to be seen if any of the people named in the book will take legal action.
Blogger Jon Greenberg has posted a review of Odd Man Out on the Huffington Post. Click Here to read Mr. Greenberg’s review.
Greenberg chooses to defend Matt McCarthy, downplaying the inaccuracies as “sloppy,” “mundane” and “trivial.”
He’s entitled to his opinion, although the overwhelming evidence suggested by those (such as me) who have done their homework is that the word “fabricated” better describes several passages.
Greenberg appears to be guilty of his own sloppiness. He writes:
The anger and accusations have come from several fronts. A relentless Angels blogger engrossed with the team’s minor league system has hammered the book for a month, admittedly before he even read it.
Apparently I’m the “relentless” blogger in question. But Greenberg is flat wrong when he says that “admittedly” I have not read it.
Those of you who are FutureAngels.com readers know that I received an advanced copy in January and posted a review on January 30. That was more than two weeks before the Sports Illustrated issue hit the magazine racks with the Odd Man Out excerpt, and more than three weeks before the book itself went on the bookshelves.
In fact, to my knowledge, the only review to appear in print before mine was the Orange County Register review by Sam Miller on January 29.
I’ll also note that in mid-January McCarthy’s publisher promised me an interview with Matt, but asked to postpone it until the week before the book’s release in late February. After I posted my review on January 30, I never heard from the publicist again about the interview. I said I wanted to interview McCarthy with a recorder on the line so all of you could hear for yourself his answers in his own voice, so there would be no disputing what either of us said. I asked her to forward an e-mail from me to Matt so I could contact him directly. She said she would; if she did, Matt did not respond.
Strictly my speculation, but my guess is that once they saw my review, and Sam Miller’s, they knew people were out there fact-checking and the jig was up. McCarthy well knows I was around Provo in 2002 — which is why there are plenty photos of him in the FutureAngels.com Photo Gallery — so perhaps he decided to duck an interview with me, knowing I’d ask hard questions about events in the book I knew didn’t reconcile.
Greenberg buys into McCarthy’s claim that any errors in the book are merely chronological slip-ups.
But back on March 6, I posted this article about a game at Ogden which clearly showed one incident described in the book was more than a chronological slip-up.
In summary, McCarthy claimed that manager Tom Kotchman ordered pitcher Hector Astacio to deliberately throw at an Ogden batter after Provo shortstop Erick Aybar was twice hit by pitches. Right away, I thought that didn’t sound right — (1) because I’ve heard Kotchman many times tell his players the best way to retaliate is to win the game, and (2) it’s against Angels policy to throw at other teams’ batters because beanball wars can result in an injury.
Looking into the facts, I found that Aybar had not been hit by a pitch at all in the game. Neither had any Provo batter. I posted the box score in that blog so you could see for yourself.
McCarthy claims he heard Kotchman order Astacio to throw at the Ogden batter. But that also doesn’t ring true. McCarthy was the starting pitcher the night before; the usual routine for a starter is that he spends the next game in the stands behind home plate charting batters or working a radar gun or just chilling out. If McCarthy was in the stands, not the visitor’s dugout, then he couldn’t have possibly heard Kotchman order Astacio to throw at an Ogden batter.
The next inconsistency has to do with McCarthy’s claim that Kotchman pulled Astacio from the game when Hector refused to throw at the batter. Well, look at the box score and you see that Astacio was getting lit up — he’d already given up five runs in four innings. This game was in the second week of the season, when Rookie-A managers usually have their starters on a relatively low pitch count that works out to three or four innings. So it looks to me like Astacio was done.
In any case, McCarthy claims he went into the visitors clubhouse to use the bathroom and found a distraught Astacio. McCarthy claims he consoled Astacio.
Well, again, this doesn’t make much sense to me. In Ogden, the visitors clubhouse is accessed through a door in the left-center field fence. The visitors are in the first-base dugout. So for a player to use the bathroom, he’d have to run all the way across the field between innings. Presumably Kotchman and pitching coach Kernan Ronan would have noticed a pitcher on his off-day sprinting across the field.
If McCarthy was charting behind home plate, though, he would have been in civilian attire and easily could have used the bathroom on the concourse beneath the stands, which would have been much closer. Having been to Ogden many times myself, I know that it’s possible to access the clubhouse by walking up the third base concourse into the front office, then hang a right and pass through a door into the clubhouse. But that’s a long way to go for a pee, especially when a bathroom was right below you on the concourse.
Greenberg apparently doesn’t see any harm in McCarthy embellishing his stories, but I can see plenty of harm in this one tale. For openers, it makes Kotch look like a head hunter. What if an Orem pitcher this year uncorks a wild pitch and accidentally hits a batter? The opponent’s manager may think Kotch ordered a purpose pitch and may order retaliation. Such retaliation often comes at the expense of a team’s top hitter. Do we want to see an Angels’ top prospect break a hand or worse because McCarthy chose to embellish? What if an umpire tosses an Orem pitcher and Kotchman because he thinks a wild pitch was a purpose pitch? Not to mention that Kotchman could get suspended and fined by the league for ordering such a pitch.
The review in today’s Los Angeles Times quotes Howie Kendrick as saying that McCarthy’s claim he went to dinner with Kendrick and Casey Kotchman was also false. Reviewer David Davis wrote, “[McCarthy] says he was inspired to write Odd Man Out after former colleagues began making contributions on the field. Guys like pitcher Joe Saunders and second baseman Howie Kendrick, who now play key roles for the big-league team in Anaheim.”
Given that McCarthy apparently made up the spring training friendship with Howie Kendrick, and the many denials by other players mentioned in the book who are now in the big leagues, I have to wonder if McCarthy simply used their names to embellish the book to make it more attractive to a potential publisher.
Alan Schwarz, The New York Times sportwriter who wrote the authoritative dissection of McCarthy’s claims, replied yesterday on BronxBanterBlog.com to McCarthy’s claim that Schwarz refused to accept McCarthy’s “point-by-point rebuttal” of the inaccuracies Schwarz questioned. Schwarz said that McCarthy’s claim is “not only preposterous but adds to his growing list of outright falsehoods.” Schwarz has an audio recording of his conversation with McCarthy which he offers to “make available to any interested party” to prove McCarthy is lying. I’ve left a message to take him up on the offer, although I suspect he wrote that in anger and the Times lawyers will stop him.
Finally, on a personal note … As to Greenberg’s claim that I’ve been “relentless” in hammering the book — guilty as charged.
The book is untrue. I don’t like lies. This happens to be a subject about which I’m very knowledgeable, so I can speak with some authority as to the truthfulness of the book.
McCarthy now says he should have used a fact-checker. One reason I wanted to talk to Matt before publication was to offer to fact-check the manuscript for him if there was going to be a revision. I knew right away when I read it that it had a lot of mistakes — some of which were trivial, but others that would be damaging to the reputations of many people. Tom Kotchman can take care of himself, but what about the many guys named in the book who long ago left baseball and now work in blue-collar jobs while trying to feed a family and pay a mortgage? McCarthy alleges underage drinking, attempts to seduce underage girls, and players offering to peddle illegal druges. These are all crimes. The statute of limitations expired long ago, but nonetheless both employers and spouses are going to question if the player actually engaged in these illegal behaviors.
If Greenberg doesn’t like me standing up for the truth and for what’s right … too bad.
The least he can do is post a correction admitting his accusation that I hadn’t read the book was false. It would be even better if he’d post where he got that lie from.
UPDATE March 13, 2009 11:00 PDT — I posted a comment at the end of Mr. Greenberg’s blog entry asking him to retract his allegation that I haven’t read the book yet criticize it anyway. That comment was deleted within a half-hour after I posted it. Read into that what you will.
On February 19 BronxBanterBlog.com author Alex Belth posted a favorable review of Odd Man Out, after interviewing Matt McCarthy. I posted a reply warning Mr. Belth that the book had credibility issues, but he blew me off with a post accusing me of being “self-serving.”
Two weeks later, The New York Times published its review exposing all the inaccuracies in McCarthy’s book, and I waited to see if Mr. Belth would do the right thing.
It took a while, but he finally has.
Belth published a blog today that first allows McCarthy to respond to the NYT article, but then gives NYT reporter Alan Schwarz an opportunity to respond to McCarthy’s claims that Schwarz wouldn’t allow McCarthy to offer a “point-by-point rebuttal.”
Here’s what Schwarz had to say about McCarthy’s repeated claims that he wasn’t allowed to defend himself:
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.
Schwarz goes on to accuse McCarthy of lying about their conversation, and notes that he has an audio recording of it.
It appears that the jig is about to be up for Matt McCarthy.
David Davis adds to the critical chorus in his review of Odd Man Out for the Los Angeles Times. Click Here to read the review.
Davis interviewed McCarthy the day afterThe New York Times published a scathing review that concluded many parts of the book were “incorrect, embellished or impossible.”
Much of the article covers familiar territory for those of you reading my posts covering the Odd Man Out controversy. What’s new are previously unrevealed details about how the book came to be published:
He says he was inspired to write “Odd Man Out” after former colleagues began making contributions on the field. Guys like pitcher Joe Saunders and second baseman Howie Kendrick, who now play key roles for the big-league team in Anaheim.
The book, McCarthy says, came from two Mead notebooks of material he kept during the 2002 season, writing at night and during mind-numbing 17-hour bus trips. Four years later, he began to shape the narrative. He showed a draft to a college friend, Sports Illustrated staff writer Ben Reiter, who gave it to Chris Stone, the magazine’s baseball editor. Stone steered McCarthy to Scott Waxman’s literary agency, which sold it to Viking.
Reviewer Davis posed this question:
Still to be determined is McCarthy’s legacy. Will he be remembered as this generation’s Jim Bouton and Pat Jordan, authors, respectively, of the baseball classics “Ball Four” and “A False Spring”? Or, is he the latest iteration of James Frey, author of the faux memoir “A Million Little Pieces”?
His answer came at the end of the article:
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 “False Spring.”
UPDATE March 14, 2009 11:00 PM PDT — Los Angeles Times blogger Carolyn Kellogg comments on why “memoirs should be honest,” to use her words, citing McCarthy’s book as an example.
Click Here for some R-rated humor from Sportsman’s Daily.
Matt McCarthy told USA Today that he had been “careless” with some of the details in Odd Man Out, but stands by the “crazier stuff” that has raised the possibility of litigation by those he named.
“It bothers me to have been careless on some of these small details, especially when I was painstaking about most others,” McCarthy wrote in an e-mail. “I trusted my notes and my memory on some smaller details, and there were obviously a few instances in which I didn’t have things quite right. That’s my fault, and I’ll take the blame. … But if people are waiting for me to break down and confess that I made everything up, it’s not going to happen.”
I documented on March 6 one incident that’s beyond a “small detail,” in which he claims that Provo manager Tom Kotchman ordered a pitcher to throw at an opposing batter after shortstop Erick Aybar was hit twice by pitches. Aybar wasn’t hit at all in the game — no Provo batter was — and the Ogden batter McCarthy claims was the target of retaliation wasn’t even in the lineup. In any case, if no Provo batter was hit by a pitch in the game, then there would be no reason for Kotchman to order retaliation, which not only is against Angels policy but would also get him a fine and possible suspension by the league.
More importantly, McCarthy’s claims that the book is backed up by detailed notes in his personal journal are starting to ring hollow. The New York Times reporters said they asked to see the journal, but McCarthy refused. McCarthy said in interviews on KPCC FM and NECN TV that he had offered a “point-by-point rebuttal” to the Times, but the reporters refused.
The article quotes McCarthy’s publisher as saying that “it’s likely a revised version of the book will be released.”