Matt McCarthy appeared earlier today on NECN TV. Click Here to go to the NECN page with the video clip.
McCarthy backpeddles on the accusation that Tom Kotchman wanted Alex Dvorsky to use steroids, saying the coaches didn’t want the players to use steroids. He also retracts his claim that he stays in touch with his teammates, saying he only stays in touch with a few former college and pro ballplayers.
Regarding the New York Times article exposing inaccuracies in the book, he repeats the same spin from his KPCC FM appearance last week. He claims that any inaccuracies are minor, just inconsistencies like who made the last out in an inning.
That is clearly a lie, because as I showed on Friday an incident he claimed happened in Ogden couldn’t have possibly happened. The Times documented many more examples, such as claims about what certain people did on a road trip only they weren’t with the team on that road trip.
McCarthy also states that he and his publisher offered the Times a “point-by-point rebuttal” prior to publication, but that the Times refused. But the Times authors wrote, “He declined to show how those journals corroborated his stories.”
McCarthy said he and his publisher stand by the book, and it won’t be withdrawn.
Hector Astacio was the starting pitcher when Provo visited Ogden on June 22, 2002.
As The New York Times amply documented earlier this week, Matt McCarthy’s Odd Man Out is facing a serious credibility problem. The Times documented several inaccuracies, some of them simply mistakes about game events, others more significant because they claim certain individuals behaved in a certain way when the evidence shows they weren’t even present.
On Page 107 of the book, McCarthy details a late June game between the Provo Angels and the Ogden Raptors. Hector Astacio was the starting pitcher. McCarthy makes several claims about this game that have been questioned by the Times. Defending himself in recent days, McCarthy says the Times can’t possibly prove he was wrong about events because he didn’t give specific dates.
Well, neither we or the Times are stupid.
All one has to do is to get hold of Provo’s 2002 season schedule and do a little digging in statistical data to figure out the dates.
The game on Page 107 occurred on June 22, 2002. How do we know?
Simple. I looked up Astacio’s game-by-game record for that season. McCarthy writes they’d lost at Ogden the night before, 10-6. The box score for June 21, 2002 shows Provo lost that night 10-6 at Ogden. So June 22 is clearly the game described by McCarthy.
YTD YTD PROVO AB R H BI AVG OGDEN AB R H BI AVG E.Aybar SS 5 0 1 0 .407 N.Carter CF 5 1 1 1 .150 J.Sugden DH 5 1 1 0 .333 J.McClanahan LF 4 2 2 0 .444 D.Gates LF 4 0 1 0 .333 M.Mendez RF 3 4 2 1 .519 M.Perdomo RF 4 1 1 2 .444 C.Soriano RF 1 0 0 0 .333 J.Guzman CAT 4 0 0 0 .200 P.Fielder DH 3 0 1 0 .500 J.Gray 1B 4 0 1 0 .240 M.Serafini 1B 4 1 0 0 .235 J.Hancock 3B 2 0 0 0 .263 J.VandenBerg CAT 3 1 1 3 .364 W.Selmo 2B 4 0 0 0 .000 J.Eure CAT 0 0 0 0 .235 Q.Cosby CF 3 0 1 0 .350 K.Bohanan SS 4 0 0 0 .176 H.Astacio PIT 0 0 0 0 .000 P.Bell 3B 3 1 0 0 .182 K.Sisco PIT 0 0 0 0 .000 C.Crabbe 2B 3 1 2 0 .353 J.Torres PIT 0 0 0 0 .000 C.Carpenter PIT 0 0 0 0 .000 B.Barnett PIT 0 0 0 0 .000 C.Breslow PIT 0 0 0 0 .000 G.Desalme PIT 0 0 0 0 .000 TOTALS 35 2 6 2 TOTALS 33 11 9 5 PROVO 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0- 2 OGDEN 2 0 3 0 2 4 0 0 X-11 E--J.Hancock, H.Astacio 2, C.Crabbe, C.Carpenter. DP--PROVO 0, OGDEN 0. LOB--PROVO 11, OGDEN 6. 2B--J.Gray (1), J.McClanahan (2). HR--M.Perdomo (2), J.VandenBerg (1). SB--M.Mendez (3). HBP--P.Fielder. SF--J.VandenBerg. SH--J.McClanahan. YTD IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA PROVO H.Astacio (L,0-1) 4.0 5 5 4 1 5 1 5.63 K.Sisco 1.0 1 2 1 2 1 0 22.50 J.Torres 2.0 3 4 3 2 1 0 12.00 B.Barnett 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 OGDEN C.Carpenter (W,1-0) 5.0 4 2 2 2 6 1 3.38 C.Breslow 3.0 2 0 0 1 3 0 0.00 G.Desalme 1.0 0 0 0 2 1 0 4.91 HB--J.Torres. WP--H.Astacio 3, J.Torres, C.Breslow. PB--J.Guzman 2. SO--J.Sugden, D.Gates 2, M.Perdomo, J.Guzman, J.Gray 3, J.Hancock, W.Selmo, N.Carter 2, C.Soriano, M.Serafini 2, P.Bell 2, C.Crabbe. BB--D.Gates, M.Perdomo, J.Hancock 2, Q.Cosby, M.Mendez, P.Fielder, M.Serafini, P.Bell, C.Crabbe. T--2:36. A--4381
McCarthy tells us that Astacio gave up three runs in the first inning. As you can see, it was actually two.
No big deal, but it’s just the start of the inconsistencies.
McCarthy writes that Provo shortstop Erick Aybar made a hard tag on Ogden DH Prince Fielder to end the bottom of the second inning. “When Aybar led off,” McCarthy continues, “he was hit with a 90-mile-per-hour fastball between the shoulder blades. No one thought much of it as it was likely retaliation for a hard tag on their best player. But that all changed two innings later when Aybar was again hit with the first pitch he saw.”
Okay, time out.
Look at the box score.
Only one batter was hit by a pitch in that game, and it was Prince Fielder.
According to McCarthy, Aybar was hit the first time in the third inning, and the second time “two innings later,” which would have been the top of the fifth.
McCarthy claims that Provo manager Tom Kotchman told Astacio, “I want you to bean the leadoff hitter next inning. Do you hear me? Hit him in the ribs with the first pitch.”
Astacio took the field to begin pitching the bottom of the fifth. “We all looked on as Kennard Bibbs, an outfielder from Houston, Texas, stepped into the batter’s box,” McCarthy wrote.
Time out again.
The above box score shows that Kennard Bibbs wasn’t even in the lineup.
McCarthy wrote that Astacio defied Kotchman, threw a fastball down the middle for strike one, and was promptly lifted from the game. At least that part seems to reconcile, in that the box score shows Astacio pitched only four innings. If he came out for the bottom of the fifth and didn’t record an out, he’d be credited with only four innings.
Astacio “grabbed a bag of ice and headed for the showers,” McCarthy wrote. “When I walked into the clubhouse an inning later to use the restroom, I saw Astacio sitting alone at his locker with his head in his hands.”
Um, that would be a neat trick, because the clubhouse is nowhere near the visitors’ dugout or the visitors’ bullpen. For McCarthy to have visited Astacio in the clubhouse in the middle of the game, he would have had to run across the field to get to the entrance door which is in the left-center field fence. I would think that Kotchman and pitching coach Kernan Ronan would have questioned where he was going.
You can see this long walk for yourself. In 2005, I did a video documentary about the four-year history of the Provo Angels. Click Here to watch the video; you need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection to watch. At the nine-minute mark begins a segment on Ogden I shot in 2003, the year after McCarthy was in Provo. At the eleven-minute mark, you’ll see the Provo players walking after the game from the visitors’ dugout all the way out to the clubhouse in left-center field.
McCarthy writes on Page 110 that Kotchman brought in third-string catcher Brian Barnett to pitch the bottom of the eighth, with Provo down 11-2. That reconciles.
So what we have is McCarthy claiming an incident that simply didn’t happen, according to the official record.
Matt McCarthy was interviewed yesterday on KPCC 89.3 FM, one of the National Public Radio affiliates here in the L.A. market. Click Here to visit the AirTalk web site. Look for the March 5 show; you’ll see a listing for “A Year On The Mound With A Minor League Misfit” with a Listen icon; click on that.
You need to have RealPlayer on your computer to listen. If you don’t have RealPlayer, scroll to the bottom of the AirTalk home page. You’ll see a link titled, “Get the RealAudio Player.”
If the March 5 show is no longer on the AirTalk home page, click the Archive button on the upper-left corner of the page and select March 5.
On his blog, host Larry Mantle wrote that he recorded an interview with McCarthy only to have Matt tell him at the end about the New York Times article questioning the book’s truthfulness. Mantle insisted he be allowed to read the critique and re-record the opening to the interview so he could question McCarthy about the allegations.
McCarthy told Mantle in the re-recording that he offered a “point-by-point” rebuttal to the Times reporters, but that they refused. As for why so many of his teammates have come forward to say these incidents never happened, McCarthy said it’s because seven years have passed and they don’t want these embarrassing allegations to come out.
Yesterday I posted a blog entry that listed various other blogs commenting on Odd Man Out. One of the blogs was written by Jeff Bercovici of Portfolio.com.
Bercovici is back tonight with another post, this time on how Sports Illustrated got taken into publishing an excerpt without properly vetting the article.
Chris Stone, the magazine’s baseball editor, says SI conducted its own, independent fact-check of the excerpt, but that its fact-checking doesn’t routinely extend to calling up people who are quoted and reading them back their quotes. (Some other magazines, including The New Yorker, do fact-check quotes.)
Stone says he’s troubled by the discrepancies brought to light in the Times but doesn’t think the book should be written off as a fraud. In the excerpt, he says, “there were some facts that needed to be amended and corrected, but not enough to suggest that this book was fundamentally wrong. These errors certainly speak to sloppiness and carelessness with the facts, and it’s inexcusable, but to compare it to the James Frey memoir — that’s a big leap.”
Bercovici quoted the lawyer for manager Tom Kotchman as saying that a lawsuit is under consideration.
Matt McCarthy, the author of Odd Man Out, is scheduled to appear in Fullerton tomorrow March 4 for a book signing.
The event according to the web site is 7 PM at the Barnes & Noble at 1923 W. Malvern Avenue in Fullerton.
Several professional blogs have reacted to the story. Here are a few.
Regarding the latter, blogger Jeff Bercovici wrote:
Of course, for now, the author is sticking to his script, insisting there were, at most, a “handful of details” he might’ve invented to fill in memory gaps. But we’ve all seen how this plays out. The publisher — Viking, in this case — will dig in for a couple days as pressure mounts; then it will flip, toss McCarthy overboard and apologize to all and sundry.
Some of these bloggers have referred to A Million Little Pieces, author James Frey’s biography about his recovery from supposed alcoholism, drug addiction, and crime. The 2005 book, which earned Frey an appearance on Oprah, was exposed by TheSmokingGun.com to be a fraud.
Police reports, court records, interviews with law enforcement personnel, and other sources have put the lie to many key sections of Frey’s book. The 36-year-old author, these documents and interviews show, wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw “wanted in three states.”
Bercovici wrote last December about a phony Holocaust memoir and commented:
With the book business in a deep swoon, no one is going to seriously consider adopting measures that could add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of publishing a title. And the lesson of Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” was that readers don’t necessarily care whether a memoir is true as long as it packs a punch.
Still, while across-the-board fact-checking may be off the table, publishers interested in avoiding future humiliations would do well to take a page from the world of journalism. Here’s a little piece of advice every reporter hears not long after starting out: When a story sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Bercovici noted that the fake Holocaust book and another work about life in gangland L.A, that also turned out to be bogus were both published by Penguin — the same subsidiary of Viking that published Odd Man Out.
His December column was titled, “Phony Holocaust Memoir Won’t Be the Last.”
He was right.
UPDATE 7:45 PM PST — More articles on the New York Times revelations:
Along with plenty of posts on amateur blogs across the nation …
Today’s New York Times weighs in on the Matt McCarthy controversy. Click Here to read the article.
… Statistics from that season, transaction listings and interviews with his former teammates indicate that many portions of the book are incorrect, embellished or impossible … When presented with evidence of his book’s wide-ranging errors and misquotations in an interview Monday morning, McCarthy said that he stood by the contents of “Odd Man Out.” He said the book, which was published last month by Viking Press and was ranked No. 29 on the most recent New York Times nonfiction bestseller list, was drawn from detailed journals he kept during his year in the Angels’ minor league system. He declined to show how those journals corroborated his stories.
There’s also a lengthy sidebar documenting many of the discrepancies; Click Here to read the sidebar.
Alan Schwarz, who co-wrote the article, is a longtime sportswriter for The New York Times and Baseball America.