UPDATE: Thanks to Anonymous below for pointing me in the direction of these two damning articles about the book. Looks like McCarthy's version of events is not trustworthy--and often impossible. In my eyes, the New York Times has eliminated McCarthy's credibility. I no longer recommend this book.
I've just finished reading Matt McCarthy's book Odd Man Out. Sports Illustrated ran an excerpt I liked recently, so I grabbed it right before Hedgehog was born and have managed to read it over the last few days. It helps that it's a fun read.
McCarthy profiles the only minor league team he ever played for, the 2002 Provo Angels in the Pioneer League (Rookie level). The Yale-educated McCarthy is a little different from his teammates. In the tradition of lefty pitchers everywhere, he views the world through his own, unique lens. I'd say that he mulls over the conflicting motivations and goals of the players and coaches he spent that summer with, and the result is several very interesting character sketches.
But man oh man. I never thought that ballplayers were choirboys. But McCarthy lays out all the icky misogyny, racism, sexism, and homophobia that happens everywhere he goes. I'm sure that the 2002 Provo Angels (including those who have since attained fame in the majors--a surprising number, actually, for that low level of ball) are angry at McCarthy for the same reason that people were angry at Jim Bouton for Ball Four. He broke the sacred clubhouse tenet of keeping everything on the inside, blah blah blah. But Bouton's revelations--that players liked to scope women out, particularly through binoculars--were pretty damned tame compared to the exploits of these guys. It's not the exploits that bother me, of course, it's the horrific way they speak of the many women they bed (or seek to). The racist attitudes of the Caucasians towards the "Dominicans" (their catch-all term which includes any player from anywhere in Latin America) are also quite ugly. The homophobic bullshit that the players and their manager speak and say is awfully disgusting.
I guess none of that surprises me, because while I haven't been in a pro locker room, I have been in a locker room, and men tend to act like misogynist homophobic assholes in there, from junior high all the way up to (I assume) the senior center. I was surprised, however, by the contempt with which the Angels--both players and staff!--treated the Mormons in the Provo community. The team has since moved a few miles down the road to Orem and renamed itself the Owlz, but if the field staff is still the same, I wouldn't be surprised if the Provo/Orem community, once they get around to reading this book, demanded an apology or even a removal of the team. When the team trainer, Clayton Wilson, says (according to McCarthy) "Remember, we're in Provo, and these people walk around with sticks permanently jammed up their asses," and when, speaking of players' possible host families, he says that "you'll stay at their home, likely for free, and they'll cook for you and some will even clean your shit for you...but these fuckers are Mormon, so be prepared for that..." well, I'm glad that's been aired.
Wilson is now the trainer for the Binghamton Mets, so Orem/Provo doesn't have to deal with him anymore, and all the players are long gone, but one wonders if they'll decide that an affiliated minor league team is worth it when they have overt contempt for their community and its people. Maybe, at the very least, the community will encourage the Angels to look elsewhere for their rookie affiliate and seek out a team that doesn't tacitly approve of this crap.
I wouldn't be surprised if McCarthy is facing blowback from his book, like Bouton did. There's probably more than a little anger from players who were presented negatively or who were called out for steroid use (quite common in 2002, of course). The dude violated the sacred code of the locker room.
My response: Good.
When you've got a code of silence, it's because something is rotten at the core of it that people don't want to be heard. This book proves it.
Anyway, it's a fun ride. McCarthy lays it all out there, and if you're a fan of minor league baseball, it's worth a read.