Books | Sports

March 30, 2009

Controversial Memoir's Slice of Minor-League Life

Medical intern Matt McCarthy chronicled his year in the minors, stirring debate about his accuracy.

dan fleschner

Last month, former minor-league and Yale pitcher Matt McCarthy published Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit, a memoir of his 2002 season with the Class-A Provo Angels. It turned out to be his only season in professional baseball before he headed off to Harvard Medical School. (McCarthy is now an intern in internal medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.) McCarthy's performance on the mound wasn't particularly noteworthy—he compiled a 6.92 ERA in 15 appearances—but his experience on and off the field offers readers an inside look into the life of a struggling low-level minor leaguer playing alongside and against glittering first-round draft picks and future major league all-stars such as Joe Saunders and Prince Fielder.

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- Books
- posted on Mar 30, 09
Stephen C. Smith

Thanks to Dan Fleschner for posing these questions. Mr. McCarthy continues to explain away the "inaccuracies" as simple chronological errors, but the facts show it's much worse than that.

I've been chronicling this story on the Blog. The permalink that gets you all the stories is:

Specifically, though, I want to draw your attention to an article I did about one key incident which shows it was more than a chronological error:

There's no doubt that the game described in the book was June 22. McCarthy described himself as being the starting pitcher the night before, and he only started a couple games before his demotion to the bullpen. He said Hector Astacio was the starter in the game in question. And he said his buddy Brian Barnett, a third-string catcher, made an emergency relief appearance in the game. Barnett pitched only once all season -- on June 22.

I also happened to be at the game, doing photography during the series.

As Mr. Fleschner notes, McCarthy wrote that Provo shortstop Erick Aybar was hit twice by pitches. The box score (in my article) shows that never happened.

McCarthy may claim he simply got a date wrong, but that's debunked because he claims that Aybar being hit twice was the reason why manager Tom Kotchman ordered Astacio to hit the next Ogden batter in the ribs with a pitch. McCarthy claims that Kotchman yanked Astacio when he refused.

If Aybar wasn't hit, then why would Kotchman order a retaliation pitch?

And if you check the box score, NO OGDEN BATTER WAS HIT IN THE GAME. The batter hit by a pitch was Ogden's Prince Fielder.

There's more that doesn't add up.

McCarthy started the night before. The typical routine in the minors is that the starting pitcher from the prior game is in the stands behind home plate, charting or working the radar gun.

Now, I can't say if McCarthy was in the stands or not, but if he was then there's no way he was able to hear Kotchman order a retaliation pitch.

McCarthy claims he went to the visitors clubhouse to use the bathroom, where he consoled Astacio.

Well, again, that doesn't make much sense.

The visitors dugout at Ogden is on the first base line. But the visitors clubhouse is accessed through a door in the left-center field wall.

For McCarthy to use the clubhouse bathroom, he would have had to run across the field in the middle of the game, which certainly would have been noticed by Kotchman and pitching coach Kernan Ronan.

If McCarthy was charting behind home plate, then he was leaving his post to use the bathroom. Nature calls, we understand that. But if he's in the stands, why not just use the mens' room on the concourse rather than go all that distance to the visitors clubhouse?

It's possible to reach the clubhouse without running across the field. You have to walk up the concourse into the front office, hang a right, and enter the clubhouse. But in doing so, you pass the mens room on the concourse.

McCarthy continues to rationalize indiscrepancies such as these by simply saying he got a date wrong. Baloney. There's no way a tale like this reconciles.

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