While colleague Neil Best was reduced to quoting Foghat, Newsday’s Wally Matthews drew the short straw and had to attend Alex Rodriguez’ signing session for the newly released kiddie tome “Out Of The Ballpark” at Coliseum Books yesterday, and from his account, it wasn’t nearly as boring as you’d expect.
Rodriguez is sitting at a table signing books and chatting with a long line of fans and a small group of reporters who have been instructed to stand behind him. Everyone is having a pleasant time when suddenly, a flack from Harper Collins flakes out and decides the interview session must end. Now. No matter that A-Rod seems to be enjoying the conversation or that we of the media have had the pleasure of his company for exactly 3 minutes and 35 seconds.
The game is over, she says, and before we know it, there are cops in the place, security is out in force – who knew bookstores even had security? – and Newsday reporter Jim Baumbach is being manhandled by an NYPD sergeant auditioning for the lead in the next “Robocop” movie. As reporter-security confrontations go, it is fairly minor, although despite thousands of books on the shelves, no one seems familiar with the First Amendment.
All the while, Rodriguez is looking on helplessly and his personal representative, Steve Fortunato, is trying valiantly to keep the scene from degenerating into a free-for-all.
“Alex wants to talk to you guys,” he said. “This is not his doing at all.”
And so it wasn’t, but since he’s A-Rod, of course it appeared as if it was.
In fairness, things got off to a shaky start an hour earlier when some clown posing as a press photographer flipped a baseball toward Rodriguez, sparking a momentary panic. Luckily, the errant toss caromed off the ceiling and fell harmlessly, or you know A-Rod would have been charged with an error.