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"Hoop Dreams" Lite for baseball...

7/10
Author: MrGKB from Ohio
6 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

..."A Player to Be Named Later" is nevertheless an engaging look at the penultimate stage of the ascendancy of hopefuls to the rarefied strata of Major League Baseball. Via a well-assembled mix of interviews, game play broadcasts and on-field photography, and tangential reporting, director Bart Stephens focuses primarily on four notable members of the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A farm team of the Milwaukee Brewers and winner of the 2000 Triple-A World Series, as they pursue their careers throughout a grueling 2001 minor league season. Along the way we meet everyone from managers to wives to Number One Indians Fans, each with a different voice to add to the story. Babies are born, triumphs and failures occur, hopes are lifted and dreams are dashed. One player, toward the end of the season, accomplishes the amazing feat of hitting six home runs in seven at-bats. The (presumably) primary cinematographer, Christopher Ralph, went on to make his own baseball documentary, "City of Baseball". Though of interest mostly to baseball fans, "A Player to Be Named Later" remains a fascinating look at the nature of modern sports as a career, not only by illuminating its difficulties (only 1 out of 20 or so minor league players ever attain even "a cup of coffee" in the Bigs) but also its embodiment of the American Dream. Recommended viewing to all with an interest in the human condition.

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