Sugar: The Realest Baseball Movie You Will Ever See

Last year, after being stood up for a date (I know- it's hard to believe that any man would be foolish enough to leave me hanging but YES, it's true) I decided not to waste the night and took myself to the Angelika on Mercer to see a movie. And good thing, too, because I got there right in time for the next showing of a film I'd heard about online, Sugar, about a Dominican baseball player (what else? lol) recruited to play in the minors in the US.

First I'd like to say that if you're allergic to subtitles then this film is not for you; a lot of the dialogue is in Spanish.

And now for the rest of us grown-ups, here are my thoughts on Sugar:

I absolutely LOVED this movie, and not because many of the characters were Dominican or because it was about baseball. I loved it because it was such a real, in-depth look at what foreign ballplayers go through and how they're treated, just for a moment of shine in the US Major Leagues.

The story follows Miguel "Sugar" Santos (Algenis Perez Soto), a talented pitcher that is brought to the US to play for the minors in Iowa, yet has dreams of playing for the New York Yankees (UGH!). Viewers are made privy to Sugar's experiences both at home with his family, friends and girlfriend and in the States with his host family (brilliantly played by Ann Whitney and Richard Bull)- all the good and the bad- including his struggles on and off the field.

For example, in the trailer you see the language classes at the training "farms" in the Dominican Republic- ballplayers aren't taught conversational English; these potential all-stars are only taught game terms. They are literally bred for baseball and nothing else- like cattle!

This film also opened my eyes as to why players juice up; I actually almost excused it because the pressure is so strong to be this machine, this super-human-ballplayer with no room for errors.

Most importantly, this movie had real grit and heart. It depicts topics and scenarios that are great fodder for further discussion, and for me, shed a new light on a game- and a people- that I love so much. Dare I say, it almost made me pity baseball players. Despite their inflated salaries, the behind-the-scenes of the game is ruthless and disheartening for many of them...let's just say I had to grab some tissues on my way out of the theater...

Standout Moments
> Sugar's interactions with his boys in Santo Domingo, one of which is a "washed up" ball player
> The chemistry between Sugar and Osvaldo (Jaime Tirelli); and I won't say more about it because it will ruin the plot for you
> Sugar's host father Earl giving him some "fatherly" attention

I cannot stress enough how powerful a film this is, especially for baseball fans. See it and learn something new; I promise you won't regret it.


Sugar (2008). 120 min. Written and Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck. Starring Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, Jaime Tirelli and Michael Gaston. Now available on DVD.


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