Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 by LibraryAdministration
Latin American names are common on major league rosters these days, but how those players end up in a Dodgers or Giants or Red Sox uniform may not be something the casual baseball fan has given much thought. Ballplayer is a gritty documentary that examines that process in the Dominican Republic, a significant source of players. Forget feel-good boys-of-summer tales. The film follows two well-regarded young players, Miguel Sano and Jean Batista, as they approach the date when 16-year-olds are eligible to sign. The trainers who have helped them develop their skills are hoping for fat contracts, of which they would receive a percentage, but the major league teams want to keep the signing bonuses down.
The resulting scheming — is the player lying about his age or are the teams colluding to avoid a bidding war — is dismaying, to say the least. Commendably, this film, narrated by John Leguizamo, sugarcoats nothing. Remarkably, everyone involved from the players, their trainers, their parents, to the scouts are remarkably forthright.
Sugar which follows a young pitcher from a training camp in the Dominican Republic to a minor-league club in Iowa (and beyond), is infused with a deep affection for baseball, the rhythms of which are nimbly captured by a narrative pace and editing style that quicken and relax as necessary. The small details and rituals of the game — the locker room banter, the on-field surges of intensity and the tedium of the dugout — are captured with subtlety and without egg-headed, glorious-pastime sententiousness. Miguel Santos is certainly capable of such delight. Nicknamed Azúcar (Spanish for sugar), and played by a marvelously expressive and likable young nonprofessional actor named Algenis Pérez Soto, he is sweet and easygoing, but also fiercely competitive and a bit cocky.
Tagged: Algenis Perez Soto, Ballplayer, Baseball, Dominican Republic, Jean Batista, John Leguizamo, Major League, Miguel Sano, Miguel Santos, Pelotero, sports documentaries, Sugar, Sports and Games, Ballplayer, Baseball, Beisbol, Contracts, Major League