David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991. Show More
There is a scene in the rough cut of "Gigante" in which Andres Torres is walking along a Manhattan sidewalk, minutes before the birth of his daughter last week, and talking rapidly to the movie's director, Chusy Haney-Jardine.
Torres is speaking hurriedly in Spanish, at lightning speed, but for the only time in the movie, the screen carries no English subtitles for the conversation. "It wouldn't have made sense anyway," Haney-Jardine said. "It was gibberish."
Mets centerfielder Torres suffers from ADHD, and moments before that frantic stroll, he was sitting in a pizza place, talking on-camera with Chusy for the first time in five months. Plainly put, Torres was losing control -- again.
"I had to talk to the Mets," Torres told him. "I felt like my head was going to explode." But in the eye of this personal hurricane, one Torres has struggled to calm since growing up in Puerto Rico, he interjects, "I'm not quitting. I'm not quitting."
What becomes shockingly apparent during the second half of "Gigante," a movie that chronicles Torres' personal battle with ADHD -- before he even knew it as such -- is just how fine a line Torres walks every day with this condition.
It's an inspirational story: Player spends 14 years, and 1,040 games, in the minors before breaking through to become a world champion.
But what the movie does best is provide a glimpse behind the curtain to see the anguish, the anxiety, that must be overcome on a 24/7 basis. It's one thing to read about the effects of ADHD. It's another to witness these effects firsthand, and by agreeing to be followed every step of the way, Torres reveals how dealing with ADHD is not as simple as taking medication and pretending everything is fine.
"It's still hard to figure this out," said Dr. Lenard Adler, who heads the adult ADHD program at NYU. "It's an ongoing process for people who have it."
Adler was among the experts in the field who spoke at the preview screening of "Gigante" on Thursday at NYU's Farkas Auditorium. He also provided some statistics: ADHD affects 4.4 percent of the adult population and 6 to 8 percent of children worldwide.
The film also includes a number of doctors who provide insight into the condition. One describes it as like having a "Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes. You can't control it."
All of this is intertwined with anecdotes from Torres' adolescence -- re-created in the movie by young actors, along with family and friends, during three weeks of filming in Puerto Rico. The most powerful scenes, however, involve the actual Torres, whose major-league career is made possible only after a minor-league manager recognizes what might be short-circuiting his talent.
Once Torres is diagnosed, and does receive treatment, that enables him to function on a higher level. But the pitfalls of ADHD remain. Though amphetamines are used to control the condition -- Torres is one of dozens of major-leaguers given permission to use the banned drug -- there are damaging side effects. At best, Torres can sleep maybe three or four hours each night. At worst, that shrinks to 30 minutes and zero. That's hardly conducive to being a productive person in any walk of life, never mind a professional athlete, whose body needs to recover and repair itself on a daily basis.
It helped that two of the driving forces behind the film also share Torres' condition. The producer, William Chang, is a principal partner of the Giants whose idea hatched from his relationship with Torres in San Francisco. Chang then found Chusy after talking about the project with a friend.
The movie is a personal journey, and revelation, for all of them. But none more so than Torres, who broke down in tears at the podium as he thanked everyone for their support. "I get emotional sometimes," Torres said. "But we are the way we are. I'm going to keep working hard and never give up."
Plate appearances without an RBI to begin the season for Nyjer Morgan, a major-league record. Morgan snapped the streak with a solo homer in the first inning against the Pirates Friday night.
Seasons in White Sox radio booth for Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, reprimanded this past week by Bud Selig for being overly critical of umpire Mark Wegner. Hawk is a notorious homer, but based on umps' performance this year, tough to side with Bud on this one.
Pitchers on Phillies with at least one win, a list that does not include Cliff Lee, who is 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA after eight starts. No worries, Cliff. Wins are an obsolete stat for pitchers these days.
Weeks on the disabled list for Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who broke his hand while reaching under the bed for a sock when a suitcase moved by his wife fell on him. Probably should have gone with the waterskiing excuse. More believable.
Baseballs given to Yankees' Russell Martin by umpire Laz Diaz, who was feuding with the catcher. Diaz said he was denying Martin the privilege of throwing new balls put in play back to the mound. Took away his PS3 and iPhone, too.