John Rolfe, of Sports Illustrated, on A-Rod’s new book:
As for Mr. Rodriguez, his tale of struggling to deliver under the crushing pressures of a youth league championship game is the very grit and gristle of Poe. One envisions the author, empty bottles of absinthe scattered about his squalid apartment, eyes wild spirals, hands feverishly clawing his cauliflowered ears at the sound of the heart beating under the floorboards while the wind moans in the eaves and the raven in the corner cackles with scorn. Symbols of torment can be found everywhere: young Alex’s best friend is JD (Derek Jeter in reverse) and his brother is Joe. Tory might have been too obvious, but one nevertheless begins to scan the crowd scenes for a scowling, grumbling fat man named George in a navy blue turtleneck.
It’s all a little too real for comfort — and it might have been even more real had young Alex simply disappeared the day of the big game. As it is, Out of the Ballpark is still the stuff of rancid nightmares as less confident tots will surely lie awake wondering, “If the supremely gifted A-Rod can get up at 5 a.m. to practice and still choke under pressure — never mind that bogus Hollywood ending — what hope have I?”
The story is steeped in a sense of weltschmerz so overarching that younger readers, at least those who don’t revel in schadenfreude, might be better off waiting for Thomas Harris to produce Young Hannibal Learns to Cook or the illustrated children’s editions of the works of Bret Easton Ellis. In the meantime, parents of impatient offspring can keep them pacified by handing them a copy of Stephen King’s Misery.