Sports Movie Review, Ballplayer:Pelotero

One thing one does when on the road, or in hospital emergency rooms is watch Netflix. Part of it is to get your mind off things, part of it is just the long waits, the boredom. Suffice to say, I’ve had my share of those recently and was able to watch some great sports related documentaries on my time. In this series, I’ll cover 3 of them; “Ballplayer:Pelotero,” “Saulte,” and “Knuckleball”. There will be spoilers. My apologies. Ballplayer:Pelotero I figure with Spring Training in high gear, it’s a good time to talk baseball documentaries. We can have a lengthy discussion on the Ken Burns masterpiece later, for now, let’s discuss the peloteros. This film captures life in and around the baseball academies in the Domincan Republic. Another term one could use, to be fair, is baseball factory. The documentary follows 2 young men (Miguel Sano, a top Twins prospect, and Jean Carlos Batista, an who are trying to get signed. Major League Baseball’s draft has not included international players (that’s changing) and that’s allowed teams to exploit cheap non-US labor. As an example of this, we need to look no further than Pedro Martinez, one of the greatest pitchers in my lifetime, signed with the Dodgers in 1988 for $6,500. International free agency doesn’t hurt everyone (ask any of the Cuban exiles who are cashing in), but for the younger players without an established record, these academies are the way in. I doubt MLB loved it, as it’s quite critical of the league position and hands-off approach. In addition to being a great story (watching these two youths) we get to see what baseball means in its totality. Often, we don’t want to know “how the sausage is made” (especially gross to this vegan.) But what that asks us to do is look the other way when we should be looking in and around, becoming aware of what all is involved in our love of something. Part of handling complexity for me, is being able to love baseball, and support changes to the league and drafting/signing possibilities. We can’t demand justice if we don’t know what is unjust. This film is a must watch for every baseball fan, and has to be incorporated into our thoughts when we discuss the draft, free agency, and the idea of exploitation in modern sports.


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