As mentioned previously, Santos' journey to the majors is not an easy one, as there are a number of obstacles that he must face; these are mostly due to his language and culture being drastically different than that of typical American culture, especially considering his AA team is located in Iowa. Santos is forced to assimilate into American culture practically on the fly, and co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck do a tremendous job of bringing the viewer into the uncomfortable struggle that Santos must endure. This is demonstrated multiple times through the film, as Santos is placed in awkward situation after awkward situation, such as not knowing what scrambled eggs were or his interactions with his host family's granddaughter, Ann. The directors made great use of non-diagetic and diagetic sound as well as close, intimate shots in order to make these situations even more empathetic for the viewer.
Unfortunately, Santos' struggles don't just end socially; he must also face the challenge of being a highly rated pitching prospect. He starts out well enough, but as his personal life begins to get worse -coupled with the fact that his friend left for New York - so does his performance on the diamond. This eventually leads to Santos' taking performance enhancing drugs, and the directors pulled no punches in really drawing the viewer in as Santos' performance deteriorates. This scene is shot in a way so that while the camera is focused toward Santos, the rest of the shot is blurry and shaky.
Eventually, Santos quits the team and moves to New York in order to find his cousin Jorge; this is when things begin to improve for him. He finds steady work at a diner where Jorge once worked, and finds a new family in a Puerto Rican carpenter, who allows Santos to stay with him; and, of course, he begins playing recreational baseball, where he seems to enjoy himself more without the pressures of obnoxious fans. This is where Boden and Fleck's vision of the American dream is personified, and where it's subjectivity gains a true testament. Sugar makes the argument that the American dream doesn't have to involve making millions upon millions of dollars, nor does it require mansions or fame or any of the sort. Success can simply be a steady job and a happy life around you; nothing more, nothing less.