Baseball's Million Little Pieces - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Baseball's Million Little Pieces

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    Baseball's Million Little Pieces
    McCarthy played for the Angels, but they don't find his writing heavenly.

    Matt McCarthy's baseball career didn't amount to much. A graduate of Yale, McCarthy was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels as a pitcher and spent a year with their Provo affiliate before moving on to medical school. He wrote a book, "Odd Man Out," about that year. It caught the eye of Sports Illustrated, which published an excerpt, and sits at number 29 on the New York Times' nonfiction bestseller list.

    That may not be the right list for it, though. The Times has uncovered numerous errors in McCarthy's book, revelations that threaten to turn the author into the sports world's version of James Frey, the author of "A Million Little Pieces" who admitted to fabricating much of a moving memoir about his battle with drug addiction. In addition to the factual errors, which the newspaper compiled in painstaking detail, several people quoted and described in the book have taken issue with the way they were presented.

    Those issues, many of which have to do with derogatory language and bad behavior, are to be expected. Many of the men McCarthy played with in 2002 have washed out of baseball, and are likely envious of the bountiful career McCarthy, whose Ivy League education made him an outlier among his peers, has ahead of him in medicine. It would be easier to dismiss those complaints, however, if there weren't so many errors surrounding the offending dialog.

    When confronted with one inaccuracy that placed a player on Provo when he wasn't yet called up to the team, McCarthy responds that “It was my recollection that he had been called up.” When told that pitcher Joe Saunders was accused of making fun of disabled children after he'd left the team, a promotion the book recounts, McCarthy has no comment, but says he stands by everything in the book. He does admit to re-creating dialog six years after the fact, so why not put a disclaimer on the book that warns that the author has done such things?

    More significantly, why didn't anyone fact check the details of McCarthy's account to make sure that the book was accurately representing the whens and whats of Provo's season? Memory is a tricky thing, even if you're keeping a daily journal, and you'd think a publishing industry that's been racked by fictional memoirs would be more careful.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.