Tuesday, June 2, 2015

BATTER CHATTER BOOK REVIEW: "Abused by the New York Yankees", by Paul Priore and Gary Toushek

I was approached by the co-author of Abused by the New York Yankees, Gary Toushek, a few months ago, the writer wondering if Batter Chatter might be interested in writing something about the book. In fact, I was interested. Authored by Paul Priore, former Yankees assistant clubhouse attendant, the book takes on one of the most imposing sports franchises in the world with some scorching allegations. Abused also takes on the most beloved player in franchise history, and tars him with a salacious sex scandal.
I didn’t know what to think.
And so I read.
Abused is not a good book.  First off, it’s self-published—not a surprise, given the subject matter, and not a bad thing; I’ve self published myself and tend to not discriminate against the DIY set. But it looks off-brand, more like a bound galley than a book, and reads as if it is in desperate need of an editor, in just about every paragraph. It reinforces the cynicism some readers have about self-published works.
A gay man, Priore has a giant bone to pick with the Yankees. He alleges that a prominent pitcher sodomized him with a baseball bat while several teammates cheered. He mentions walking into the clubhouse sauna and finding two of the Core Four—Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada—locked in a tangle of, shall we say, passion. (The phrase “erect paddywackers” actually sees the light of day in this passage.) He alleges a whole lot of things. Then he alleges more.
If he had spelled out a handful of incidents in which he was aggrieved, the book would’ve been much stronger. Instead, Priore blasts every darn player, manager and front office exec he ever came in contact with, which turns the book into a long-ass, scattershot screed. George Steinbrenner is “Ol’ Turkeyneck.” He suspects that two marginal players in the Nineties, both married men, share amorous affection for each other, and sees homosexual tendencies all over the game—from catchers flicking crotch-level signs to pitchers, to players joking about penis size in the shower. It becomes clear very early on in the book that he has an axe to grind with any and all aspects of the Yankee universe.
He constantly names names—players he says committed actual crimes in the clubhouse, and also others who simply acted like knucklehead ballplayers, with no idea that, two decades later, the assistant clubhouse attendant would out them for loutish behavior in a book.
In case you didn’t get your fill of dry writing across the first 500 pages, Abused concludes with a report from the man who administered a polygraph test to Priore. Included to establish Priore’s credibility, the report had the opposite effect on me—the author trying too hard to show us his far-fetched claims are legit.
Full disclosure, I root against the Yankees and, am sheepish to admit, take delight in their misfortunes. (Their best hitter is A-Rod! Hah!) But I derived no pleasure in Abused by the New York Yankees, and, in fact, found it grossly unfair.


Gary Toushek said...

When I sent Mr. Malone a review copy, it was returned because he’d given the wrong address; his excuse: “I completely dropped the ball here. We switched work addresses and I had the old one stuck in mind. Sorry for the brain freeze. Don't know what I was thinking.”

I mention it because that ‘brain freeze’ carelessness carries into his review of this book. I got the impression that Mr. Malone was so repulsed by the idea of this book that he had a negative bias before he began reading. He seems to have an aversion to the truth if the truth is ugly. This book mostly tells about the dark side of the Yankees that the public never sees, and he doesn’t want to believe they acted as badly as we describe.

He incorrectly states that my co-author Paul “had his day in court,” lost his case, and was then out for revenge “on a rampage.” That’s not what happened. The facts are that George Steinbrenner, a twice-convicted felon, a racist and a bigot, who established an atmosphere of fear, intimidation and bullying, and carried on illegal and duplicitous business practices, forced his players and managers to lie in their depositions and used his influence and powerful connections to get Paul’s lawsuit case thrown out BEFORE it got into a courtroom, because he was afraid of Paul’s evidence and determined to win at any cost to keep the truth away from the public.

Mr. Malone obviously missed the part about Paul not believing in the Yankees ‘code of silence’ – repeated several times in the book – which accepts illegal and/or immoral activities and behavior as being normal. Paul wasn’t the only Yankees employee who knew about these things, but he’s the only one with enough courage to speak up about them, even knowing how unpopular that would be. Who would dare hurl accusations of wrongdoing at certain Yankee players as well as the owner? Paul did because he has evidence of their improprieties and crimes.

I thought my editor (with 42 years of experience in editing nearly 200 published books) would be offended by Mr. Malone’s remarks about the way the book is written; instead she chuckled that he obviously didn’t read the intro which explains that it’s written in a conversational rather than literary style, and that she tried searching for his bestselling titles but came up empty.

His comments about the lie detector test in the book are confusing. If there was no such test in this book, he would easily dismiss it as a crock of lies. Since there IS a 26-question detailed test – not a polygraph as he incorrectly says – conducted by a highly-credentialed former Detective Sergeant in Major Crime in a police dept, with more than 25 years experience in conducting more than one thousand lie detector tests -- that Paul passed 100%. Mr. Malone is not satisfied with that either, although it’s not clear why.

Why would we make all of these allegations against the most famous baseball franchise in the world, why would we open ourselves up to the possibility of a lawsuit -- unless they were all based in truth, with witnesses and evidence, with proof that they really happened?

I understand that he doesn’t WANT to believe it. So he hates the book.

This book tells a serious, complicated story; Paul is a unique person, not just another gay man who was abused, albeit by ‘celebrities.’ He tells the truth and faces the consequences of doing so.

I don’t believe that Mr. Malone read the entire book, only what he perceived to be so-called highlights. His review is misleading and irresponsible and should be disregarded. Near the beginning of this book we quote Mark Twain: “Always do right. This will satisfy some people and astonish the rest.” Mr. Malone is likely astonished.

Gary Toushek

James Allen said...

The rebuttal is written better than the rebuke. Round One, easily, to Toushek.

Anonymous said...

I admire Paul Piore and Gary Toushek for telling it like is.
Mr Malone is a shill for the Yankees and MLB.
I'm most interested in learning more about the Yankee players etc betting in fixed games for them to lose (or win).
In my opinion all sports are fixed.
Thus all sports heroes are actually zeroes.

Anonymous said...

If I don't know any better, the anon above me may have been Toushek or Priore himself trying to attack whatever criticisms aimed at the book considering Toushek's posts in other blogs as well. Nice try I'll say.

Anonymous said...

Toushek and Priore are now having a fall out due to business issues, this is getting interesting.