Carlos O. Gonzales practices from the pitcher’s mound in hopes of impressing Major League Baseball scouts in “The Last Out” (Photo Credit: Jonathan Miller).
(“The Last Out” trailer courtesy of The Last Out)
Langston Hughes wrote, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet?”
Many young athletes around the world have dreams and aspirations of professional sports success, fame and glory.
But the documentary “The Last Out” effectively portrays how treacherous the road to success can become for Cuban baseball players forced to navigate decades of politics and unscrupulous characters as they try to make it to America and hopefully Major League Baseball.
The documentary “The Last Out” depicts the journey of three Cuban baseball players who must defect from their home country in Cuba, establish residency in Costa Rico and then impress Major League Baseball scouts in hopes of securing million-dollar contracts that will set their families up for years to come.
Any fan of Major League Baseball can point out the success stories of Cuban baseball players who have found glory on the diamond in the States.
From Yordan Alvarez to Yasiel Puig to Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., Cuban baseball players have contributed greatly to some of the best baseball franchises.
But what many fans do not always see is the broken hearts and deferred and denied dreams by those who come from Cuba and do not realize their Major League dreams.
Furthermore, many baseball fans probably do not see the scandalous powerbrokers and agents who help the Cuban players get noticed by Major League scouts.
Getting noticed by the scouts often costs the players 20 percent of their signing bonus if they become one of the fortunate few who make it to the big time and receive million-dollar deals.
For powerbroker Gus, portrayed in “The Last Out,” if he feels the players have no future in the Majors, he has no problem cutting his losses and cutting ties with the prospects with little to no warning.
In fact, all Gus truly needs is one of his investments to make it to the big leagues for him to get a huge return on that investment.
In “The Last Out,” Gus’ shady past even makes it more difficult for some of the players to get noticed by the big boys in the Major League.
Happy Oliveros, a nickname he received because of his father, has hooked up with Gus to help him get to the Majors by any means necessary.
He will miss his family as he moves to Costa Rico for training, and hopefully residency.
But he feels that he is prepared to survive in a foreign country on his own.
In “The Last Out,” Happy takes pride in knowing how to cook because he knows he will have to cook for himself living in a country with no family members or close friends around.
Happy will be “alone” for the first time in his life.
However, he is willing to take a risk if it means providing a better life for his family members in Cuba.
In “The Last Out,” Carlos O. Gonzales is arguably the hardest worker of those trying to make it to the Majors via Gus and his connections.
As a child, Carlos was always smaller than his peers.
Despite his small stature, Carlos could always pitch the baseball better than most.
But being undersized might have had an impact on his strong work ethic and determination.
On the other hand, Victor Baro has the talent that Carlos has.
But Baro does not have Carlos’ work ethic.
He seems to only work when he is pushed to do so.
While the others will do anything to make it, Baro thinks his talent is enough to get him to the big time.
In “The Last Out,” Baro even talks about the Major Leaguers he would love to strike out like David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox.
However, as anyone with a dream will know, beautiful dreams sometimes turn into brutal nightmares.
At that time, the dreamer must decide if they are going to give up and live their life wondering what if.
Or will they keep grinding and accept nothing less than success, no matter what it takes to achieve their goals?
“The Last Out” is one of those sports movies that non-sports fans will enjoy because everyone knows what it is like to have a dream and to think the dream will not come true no matter how hard they work.
Many people know what it means to have a dream and only have one opportunity to make it happen.
But how much harder is it for a person to have a dream riding on one performance, especially when a person’s entire family is depending on their success?
“The Last Out” will make moviegoers laugh, especially when the players take on the difficult task of learning English.
The documentary will make moviegoers angry, especially when viewers see how the prospects are exploited by those trying to cash in on their athletic talents.
And the documentary will make fans of the Houston Astros proud as they see shots with current players like Yuli Gurriel, scenes at the Galleria, Minute Maid Park and Houston Baptist University.
Despite the range of emotions depicted in “The Last Out,” more time should have been dedicated to the players after they left training in Costa Rico.
That way, moviegoers would have seen (instead of reading) what happened to their dream of playing Major League Baseball.
Like Hughes wrote about the dream, “Maybe it sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”