Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Minor League Roid Perspective

In his very entertaining book, Odd Man Out, Yale graduate Matt McCarthy describes his year in the minor league system between 2002 and 2003. The intellectual wasteland, living in Provo, Utah and the shenanigans that occur in the clubhouse are explored fully as well as the pressure that some minor leaguers felt to make it to the big leagues.

The pressure to make it included roiding up. After all, he was in the minors during the height of the roid era. While McCarthy does recount a drug test, the players know that there are two tests per year and can roid out their minds once the unannounced test comes and goes.

In describing the ongoing dilemma with PED’s, McCarthy writes:

“His reaction reflected the dilemma that many players in baseball faced at the time, when the whiff of steroids was always in the air. What might have been nothing more than an innocent suggestion from a coach that a player needed something extra to make the big leagues could be misinterpreted as a coded message to look for chemical assistance.”

The players get into a debate as to whether or not one should juice. The argument to juice is simple: take this product, perform better on the field. The argument against: side effects are worse and unknown. The counter to that discussion is that I chew tobacco, smoke and drink; activities that are all bad for my health, but this product, also bad for my health, will help my game. To that line of thinking, it’s a no-brainer.

Perhaps it's his Yale background coming out or giving the baseball lifers a free pass when he implies that only players are hearing "coded messages" to seek out PED's.  Only players are to blame for the PED problem?  Management needs to share some of the blame during this period since they were more concerned with what kept the turnstiles moving than doing the right thing.  


Stephen C. Smith said...

You should know that this book has been largely debunked by The New York Times and other media outlets. Many parts appear to have been embellished, if not outright fabricated. The link to the NYT article is:


Although the publicity material with advance copies of the book promised it would expose "rampant steroids," the truth is that it did nothing of the sort. All it says is that the third-string catcher who McCarthy says told tall tales claimed he could hook up players with steroids, and that he knew five teammates who were doing steroids.

That's pretty thin evidence for claiming "rampant steroids."

As for the dinner at Applebees, the principles involved -- manager Tom Kotchman and catcher Alex Dvorsky -- heatedly deny McCarthy's version of events.

Given all the other documented inaccuracies in the book, it's hard to take McCarthy's steroids tale at face value.

I also documented another "inaccuracy" on my blog:


The entire episode where McCarthy claims Kotchman ordered Hector Astacio to hit a batter also appears to have been fabricated. Very little of what he claims happened in the game actually occurred.

Shaun E in PC said...

Excellent points Stephen. Good work in finding another inaccuracy in the book.

I was aware of the controversy that various outlets raised regarding the book. McCarthy responded to the firestorm that these were his recollections, for better or worse.

S.B. McD said...

There's a rumor going around that McCarthy has taken out a restraining order against Stephen C. Smith.