‘Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel’ Review: When Baseball Is a Religion

‘Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel’ Review: When Baseball Is a Religion

On paper, “Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel” does not sound like a world-historic saga of baseball. This documentary — directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger — hangs out with members of Israel’s national team before and during the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Major League Baseball’s main international competition. Israel is looking to shed its underdog status. The problem? According to the movie, there may be only one genuine baseball field in Israel.

So “Heading Home” becomes the story of a group of Americans with Jewish ancestry who join the team. Because they are eligible for Israeli citizenship, it’s kosher for them to play. Whether it’s ethical for a team to stock its roster with ringers, including Sam Fuld, just off an injury with the Oakland Athletics, and Ty Kelly, then with the Mets, is a riddle “Heading Home” would rather not solve.

The second half is largely devoted to ballgames; most of the first half takes place two months earlier, when the Americans fly to Israel aboard a private jet owned by the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to see the country and to ponder, in some cases for the first time, their Jewish identities. Occasionally, a thornier scene emerges. The pitcher Josh Zeid hits it off with two Palestinian T-shirt vendors, who then admit that they won’t be rooting for Team Israel.

But “Heading Home” is not a movie with much interest in geopolitics. It roots, roots, roots for its home team — and does little more.

Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 27 minutes.

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