Baseball Takes Center Stage At The Film Festival Today

Last night was all about Kate Winslet, who appeared at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to receive an award for her work in “The Reader” and “Revolutionary Road.”
Unlike some of the stars who show up at this event, Winslet took the time to sign autographs before striking a pose on the red carpet.
(No, I’m not in that mosh pit. I avoid crowds except at ball games.)
Between clips of her movies, Winslet answered questions from film critic Leonard Maltin.
(No, I didn’t raise my hand and say, “Are you a Yankee fan?”)
After the ceremony, there was a private party for Winslet at a clothing boutique in downtown SB.
(No, I didn’t go. I was invited, but it was raining and I decided to bag it. Well, O.K. It wasn’t just the rain. The truth is, I was afraid I’d spill red wine on some of the clothes and/or Winslet. Remember my post about the chili? I don’t trust myself anymore.)
Today was about the movies themselves, not the glitz, and they’re the reason I look forward to the Festival every year. These are small films, foreign films, films that will never make it to the Multiplex – indie movies that are shown at festivals in Toronto, Sundance and Santa Barbara in the hopes of finding distributors. They come from countries like Japan and China, Norway and Germany, Mexico and Argentina, even Russia and Afghanistan. This morning I saw one from New Zealand. Talk about movies being the universal language.
This afternoon was a screening of “Sugar,” the baseball movie I’ve mentioned. Is it the greatest movie ever? No. But it’s definitely worth seeing. It’s an eye-opening look at how young players in the Dominican Republic will do almost anything to get to the States and stay here.
The main character, Sugar Santos, is a pitcher with a wicked knuckle curve.
When he’s plucked from the baseball academy where he and his friends train and given the chance to play for a minor league team in Iowa, he can’t believe his good fortune. But the transition isn’t easy. He has to adjust to an English speaking country (he orders French toast for breakfast every morning, because it’s the only thing he knows how to say), deal with fans who yell “You suck” at him (you’ll never utter those words again) and stay healthy or be sent back to the Dominican (he resorts to taking PEDs).
There are lighthearted moments, and I let out an actual cheer when Sugar and his friends talk about playing for the Yankees. But mostly, the movie is about how hard it is for these kids to make it here. We have no idea. Seriously.
As I was leaving the theater, I vowed to go much easier on Robinson Cano.
Do you hear that, Robbie? I’m going to give you a break. I won’t scream at the TV the first time you swing at a pitch in the dirt or forget to run out a ground ball or let a dribbler get through the infield. I have sympathy for you now.
For him too.
Just don’t take advantage of my newfound generosity of spirit. Movie or no movie, you’d better bust it this year.


  1. levelboss

    i saw an article about Robbie.. that he’s 5 pounds lighter, has used a personal trainer, and is dedicated to improving his performance over last year
    i was thinking that last year was an anomaly and NOT characteristic of a normal Robbie year
    so i’m thinking that if the Yankees have a ‘back-to-normal’ Robbie, a Hot Rod, a switch-hitting power-hitter Teixeira, a better Jeter, a rejuvenated Posada, a ‘back-to-normal’ Matsui, and ‘back-to-normal’ Melky.. the Yankees should CRUSH the other teams

  2. Jane Heller

    It’s certainly encouraging, levelboss. The Yankees can’t afford to have Robbie get off to another slow start. Conversely, if he rebounds this year, it’ll be huge for the Yanks. But I think the key is Posada and how he comes back from the shoulder injury. We need him at 100%.

  3. levelboss

    Jorge may not be as efficient and effective as Molina at throwing out runners, BUT if Jorge can get his groove back – hitting i mean – then the Bombers should SHELL the other teams
    COMBINE that with the defensive power of CC, the strike-out power of AJ, the bowling-ball sinker-heavy 19-wins per year Wang, and a break-out year of future-ace-stud Joba, then the Bronx Bombers will absolutely MAN-HANDLE the mlb this year



    Is there anything in that movie about how MLB signs 16-year-olds from Latin countries? Which in turn means the network of syncopaths, agents, recruiters and groomers starts latching onto them at age 12? (Actually, it’s probably much earlier than that.) el duque

  5. redbirdchatter

    Ah…there’s nothing like a baseball movie in the offseason! I hope “Sugar” eventually makes it to a video store near me. Yes, it is much harder to yell “You Suck!” when you start thinking of players as people rather than the gods we want them to be. The festival sounds so fun!


  6. juliasrants

    Jane – You have competition! Joe Torre’s Book – “The Yankee Years” comes out the same day as yours! I guess it’s fair – one “pro” Yankees book and one “not so pro” Yankees book to compete! Be gracious when your book sells more then his!


  7. Jane Heller

    I do love the way you think, levelboss. Crushing the opponents is always nice.

    Yeah, I’ve very intimidating, Joe 🙂 Hope you won’t stay away.

    Julia, I knew Torre’s book was imminent, but now I see it’s got the same pub date as mine. Curses! But not foiled! I’m going to post about it in a few minutes. He may have all the headlines today, but will his book have legs? We shall see!

    You’ll like “Sugar,” Bern. It’ll be a good rental when it comes out on DVD.

    That’s exactly what the movie’s about, duque. The kids in the Dominican are recruited when they’re barely old enough to walk.

    Kathy, the festival is fun because you get to see movies you’d never see otherwise. Plus, the restaurants in downtown Santa Barbara give you a discount on food during the ten days!

    If you’d watched Cano play last year, Jeff, you wouldn’t feel sorry for him. He got a very nice contract, then showed up out of shape and unfocused. She-Fan was not happy.

    I’m giving Robbie a “provisional break,” maxguys. The movie made me empathize, but it didn’t make me delusional!

  8. bostonredsoxgirl46

    I’ll definitely check out that movie–it seems like you have a knack for sorting out the good movies from the bad. I remember you saying that you thought Benjamin Button was bad. My friends were dying to go see it so I went along even though I told them: ‘Jane said it’s boring!!!’. Well, two hours through (by now my mind was off wandering somewhere in a baseball world) my friends realized that you were right, and we left.
    Have you watched ‘Pride and Perseverance’ yet on the MLB Network? It’s unbelievable what Americans used to do to these poor people. I’m glad Jackie Robinson turned it around.

  9. Jane Heller

    Sorry you had to sit through two hours of “Benjamin Button,” Elizabeth. It’s soooo boring. I haven’t seen “Pride and Perseverance,” but maybe they’ll repeat it. Hope so!

  10. SHEENA

    I’m definately going to check that movie out but have you also seen another baseball movie called “American Pastime”? It centers around the japanese internment camps during ww2? I have had it sitting by my chair for months but haven’t opened yet. lol.

  11. Jane Heller

    I’ve heard of “American Pastime,” Sheena, but haven’t seen it. Let me know if it’s any good and I’ll rent it.

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