The Mendoza Line is a low-budget film written and directed by Nathan Kaufman that does a decent job at taking a look at the side of baseball that is rarely focused on, the low-minors players with no real future in baseball.
The story follows a catcher, Ricardo Perez, in his fourth season in the low minors who is actually an undocumented worker carrying a fake social security number. He is on his way out of professional baseball, and his wife is on her way out of the marriage. The storyline following Perez helps move the story along, but it is the commentary that makes the movie.
Many people don’t realize just how little the typical minor league baseball player makes, many live below the poverty line, and the movie shows that pretty well. Perez’ wife works two low-paying jobs, and he says “she makes more than I do”, which can certainly be the case in the minor leagues.
The movie follows a supposed A ball team, the Marysville Gold Sox, which is actually a collegiate wood bat summer league. It also has some inconsistencies when referring to some minor league cities and the progression a play might make, but I am also hyper-critical when it comes to baseball movies.
There are plenty of old baseball clichés used, but also some decent humor as well. The movie also touches on the lack of African-Americans in baseball, steroid use, and the difference between drafted players and international signings.
Overall, the movie was a decent watch, mixing some cultural issues along with some decent comedic relief. It is a quick watch, a run time around an hour and twenty minutes, but it also flies right by. I wish the movie had been a bit longer and dove deeper into some of the cultural topics raised and it could have been a really good movie. Instead, I put it as a movie that is worth the time to watch, but not a must see like it could have been.
For more information and where to rent/buy the movie, check out The Mendoza Line’s website.