I’ve been watching Baseball recently. Not baseball, which I have viewed from time to time, but the TV “two-part, four-hour documentary film directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick,” BASEBALL: THE TENTH INNING. I’m a big fan of the original nine-part series, and have even borrowed the expansive coffee-table book associated with it.
For me, I think the problem is that much of the information was a bit too recent, and the conclusions drawn generally unsurprising, which is to say, I noted to myself, “Yeah, I thought that, too.”. I remember watching, in real time, the Braves vs Pirates NLCS, 1992 game 7 with former Pirate Sid Bream beating the throw from leftfielder Barry Bonds. I recall well the 1994 strike, and how it almost destroyed the sport.
I remember the 1998 home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, which revived the sport; I’m sure I watched, again in real time, probably on FOX Sports, McGwire hit home runs 61 and 62. In fact, when I saw the show, I said, “Number 62 goes right down the left-field line, just over the fence.” I DID forget that at least sports writer tried to blow the whistle on performance-enhancing drugs, but was ignored; and, of course, I do remember the steroid scandal. Don’t know if I’m projecting, but I sensed a bit of, if not sympathy, then at least understanding about what drew Barry Bonds to steroids. It makes the interesting, if unoriginal point, that by Roger Clemens sullied by the scandal, it made going after Bonds more palatable; Bonds is black, a position player from the National League, and sullen, while Clemens is white, a pitcher from the American League, and at least more civil.
My favorite parts involved, unsurprisingly, the information I did NOT know: the exploitation of the players from the Dominican Republic, and background on Ichiro Suzuki of Japan.
Still, the series may be more enjoyable for those less familiar with recent baseball history, or those with lousy memories. And I have to think that if I watch it a decade or more from now, it’ll become more interesting. Also, for those largely unfamiliar with baseball, the website does contain a great deal of information from the past 20 years. The Tenth Inning will be rebroadcast on November 8 and 15 on PBS.
I did not know this: former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams has played with Bruce Springsteen.
Speaking of the Yankees, I will definitely have to watch the broadcast of Game Seven of the 1960 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees, when it will be broadcast on the MLB Network. Film of the game was recently discovered in the wine cellar of the late Pirates’ part-owner Bing Crosby.