Hearts in the Game

Error on the Pitcher

This one started out well, but in the end, it kind of collapsed under the weight of mystifying motivations and irrational feelings and decisions on the part of the hero, which was key to the whole purpose of the story.

Erin Cahill plays Hazel, a NYC-based publicist known to be the best in her field. She is hired to get a star pitcher, coincidentally her former high school boyfriend who broke her heart, some good publicity and rehabilitate his image. No team wants him due to him mysteriously freezing on the mound in the 7th game of the World Series, losing his former team the championship. As a baseball fan, I understood the concern. The New York Mets are thinking about hiring him, but not without positive publicity high profile enough to assure the owners and the fans that it won’t happen again. It goes without saying that this must include the explanation of his breakdown on the mound. Ideally, the explanation must not destroy his reputation further but restore it. But Diego refuses to talk about it to anyone. It is completely off the table. When Hazel meets him and his agent, she is treated with hostility and sarcasm by Diego. I was intrigued by the mystery of what in the world she did to him to deserve his snarky anger. Hazel succeeds in convincing him to trust her and gets him an interview with a respected magazine and journalist, Morgan, on the condition that it takes place back in their hometown (which neither has visited for, I’m guessing, about 10 years). Once back in Ashtabula County Ohio, it soon becomes clear that Hazel also has some beef with her old best friend who wanted to be a writer once but now is a teacher, a wife, and a mother. So, three mysteries to keep my interest going, although by now, I realized that this movie was not holding up to its early promise. This is because the romance part including the big misunderstanding is telegraphed clearly at the beginning and it’s old and boring. Since Diego stubbornly refuses to disclose the reason for his breakdown, the only reasonable conclusion is that it must be very very bad, intolerable, inexcusable, unforgivable, and humiliating! So there is still hope for a couple of shocking reveals, a touching redemption, and a strong ending.

I’ll skip right to the chase which is why this movie fizzled so badly. **spoilers** Let’s start with the high school breakup. It turns out Diego stood Hazel up the night of the Senior Prom. But why? Because he found out that night that his beloved mother was sick with cancer. But he didn’t have the decency to call her and explain. He just ghosted her on prom night. Dude! I guess that explains the initial hostility on his part towards Hazel. Not! Then, when he finally explains after a romantic evening, Hazel apologizes to him for not being the type of person he could confide in. What. Moving on.

 It turns out the big secret as to why he lost his team the World Series is because it was the anniversary of his mother’s death and he always has a panic attack on the anniversary of his mother’s death. Plus it was additionally triggered by seeing a mother in the stands who looked like his mother and her child. Yes, that certainly is shameful. I can certainly understand why he is killing his career by keeping that nefarious information secret. Not!

On to the big misunderstanding with 20 minutes to go. He overhears Morgan the journalist telling Hazel the article is dead, because Diego will not explain why he froze on the mound. He becomes irate because Hazel “sold him out.” Huh? Surely the article being pulled proves that Hazel did not sell him out. Quite the contrary. He leaves the diner in a rage after bullying poor Hazel into admitting she promised Morgan the true story when he told her it was not up for discussion. So what? (”I was just going to read my biggest secret as a headline????!!!!!”). But first, he yells at Hazel over his shoulder while running out of the diner where this drama occurs, to go ahead and “tell Morgan anything you want to tell her.” Drama queen. Of course, Hazel keeps his shameful secret even though it will ruin her career. Later, Diego finds out from his agent what he already knew, that the article has been killed, which makes him so happy(??????) that he invites Morgan the journalist to his house to interview him and tells her the whole freaking truth, including how he lost the “love of his life” on Prom Night. It just made no sense. This Diego guy, our hero, was dangerously irrational and erratic with no judgment, common sense, or balance.

As for the third mystery, the cause of Hazel’s fallout with her girlfriend, it was a big nothing. I won’t even go into that side of the story. In the final couple of minutes of this mess, we learn that Diego is now a Met, and has pitched a no-hitter on his first outing, Hazel is representing her old girlfriend who is now a best-selling author, and Diego and Hazel are together forever in New York City. Hallmark really piled on the happy endings with this one. To top it off, Diego is being touted by the press as a  champion of mental health. Snort. Now it is certainly possible that Hallmark had the laudable intention of addressing the serious issue of mental health. But they whiffed. He comes across as emotionally stunted and asinine, not mentally ill. What exactly was Diego’s problem? So much machismo that he could not admit to softer emotions? Mommy issues? Unhealthy grieving process? Self-hatred? Plain old arrogance? Self-sabotage? Anger management problem? I would hardly call one panic attack a year as having a mental health problem. Or not being able to talk about it and then being able to talk about it. Don’t look too closely at the future of Diego and Hazel’s relationship. Be like Hazel and ignore all of the red flags.

On a historical note, Hazel’s best friend and personal assistant is Jax, played by a non-binary actress, Donia Kash. it is never stated, but it is inferred that the character is also non-binary. Donia/Jax was one of the few bright spots in this production.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

3 thoughts on “Hearts in the Game

  1. The plot made no sense. The backstory was a jumbled mess. She was out for herself, and I couldn’t believe how rude she was to her friend. The baseball part was pure nonsense. The Mets won’t sign him to a contract unless he gets some positive media coverage? And then within two months, he’s pitched a no-hitter and her friend from high school is a best-selling author? Hallmark really struggles when professional sports is a backdrop for a movie. The only one they’ve done that I really liked is Love on the Sidelines.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Her discounting of her friend came out of nowhere. And how did she just walk in to Hazel’s apartment in New York City unannounced and uninvited? I didn’t even go there because my review was already too long. So many problems with this one including the time line. I think Diego was a borderline narcissist. 😆 Yeah pretty sure that’s not how contract negotiations work. Hallmark. God love’em. Agree about Love on the Sidelines! Loved that one but mostly because Emily Kinney? was adorable.


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