Life gives you lots of opportunities. Baseball only gives you one.
Sugar is the story of Miguel ‘Azucar’ Santos, a Dominican pitching prospect trying to work his way from the baseball academies of the DR to the major league promised land.
Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the first act of Sugar reveals what life is like within the DR’s prospect machine; doing so three years before Pelotero came along to give the subject the documentary treatment. [I wrote up the documentary yesterday.]
I watched Pelotero for the first time the day before rewatching Sugar, which added considerable depth to my second viewing. The film was great on its own, but the new layers of understanding were significant.
While there were some liberties taken in service to the story, Boden and Fleck clearly did their research about life for young ballplayers in the Dominican Republic. There are scenes that are shot for shot precursors of what would later be shown in the documentary — even though the productions were entirely independent of one another.
After the first act of the film in the DR, the remainder reveals what life is like for a latino prospect once he graduates from the baseball academies to minor league ball in the US.
I can’t actually go into anymore detail without spoiling some powerful beats in the narrative, but what I will say is that this one is well worth a watch. Sugar is a beautifully crafted film that joins the ranks of movies on this list you should watch even if you aren’t a baseball fan. Although, let’s be honest, I don’t see how someone who isn’t a baseball fan could possibly still be reading these posts.
My second viewing of Sugar leaves me feeling much the same way I did after watching Pelotero. Baseball is a beautiful game, but the economics at the professional level too often reflect the monstrous injustices that color every facet of human life.
Up Next: Fear Strikes Out, the true story of Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall and his battle with mental illness. The film stars Psycho‘s Anthony Perkins.