04.03.09

Unintentional Verite Department: Yes, That’s Jose Rijo in “Sugar”

Posted in Baseball, The World Of Entertainment at 12:50 pm by

All credit to Pete Segall on this bizarre catch regarding the just-released baseball/kinda-not-baseball movie Sugar. (You might wish to add, mentally or out loud, a movie-trailer voice-over guy saying, “from the directors of Half-Nelson” here) The film itself, about a Dominican pitcher’s journey from the DR’s Boca Chica baseball academies — Patrick Clark’s old beat — to Iowa’s low-minors, is supposed to be very good, and I’d like to see it. And that was before I knew about an inspired bit of suddenly ultra-current (and almost certainly unintentional) stunt casting.


“Take a look at the credits and see who’s billed as playing Alvarez,” Pete advised me this morning. I did. It’s this guy. Who is also this guy. Which is to say that it is indeed also this Jose Rijo, the now-disgraced former DR talent-wrangler for Jim Bowden’s baseball banana republic in D.C. That Rijo plays is credited as a hitting instructor plays a Dominican baseball fixer is kind of weird, although he was a pretty decent hitter for a pitcher. That Rijo appears in a movie that touches at least a bit on the tacit commodification of baseball players from the Dominican is, Pete notes, maybe kind of weird in light of recent developments, and adds an odd new wrinkle to a movie that already seemed to have a lot going on. “Man, one only wonders if Rijo got connected to the project simply because of his (perceived as legit at the time) role in the DR,” Pete writes. “If that’s the case then the film becomes, in its tinyish way, a good deal bigger than it intended itself to be.”

I’m going to try to see it over the next week and make note of any other names in the credits. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Geronimo Berroa showing up as a hairstylist or Andujar Cedeno as a camera op.

UPDATE: Cleared the hitting instructor thing up, per PAS. I need to read my emails more carefullier.

3 responses to “Unintentional Verite Department: Yes, That’s Jose Rijo in “Sugar””

  1. bill weber says:

    Saw the film in October, and if I remember correctly Rijo plays the head of the MLB-affiliated Dominican academy where the film begins, not a hitting instructor.

  2. David Roth says:

    Yeah, I’m just going by what Pete told me — I haven’t seen the film yet, and Rijo’s role isn’t specified beyond the name in anything I’ve read. I’ll change it if I see the film and I’m wrong. It would be kind of weird for a movie about a pitcher to feature a big part for a hitting coach, but…I mean, it’s Jose Rijo in a movie. It’s already pretty weird.

  3. Jason Cohen says:

    Rijo was also the film’s principal advisor. If the movie doesn’t, pardon the pun, sugarcoat anything, you’d have to think they actually got exactly what they wanted, someone who knew the ins and outs of a shady system very well – if, in retrospect, too well.

    I wonder if Rijo’s credibility at home will remain intact. I mean, you’d think the skimming part would bother people, not the lying about a prospect to get him more money part. But it could be seen as just harassment by the US

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