“The Tenth Inning” by Ken Burns

Ken Burns’ latest film, “The Tenth Inning”, just got over on Channel 2. The four-hour program, shown over the past two nights, was an extension of “Baseball” the 1994 Burns program that covered baseball from the beginning. The highlight of tonight’s show, of course, was the Red Sox historic victory over the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series (and they’re almost anti-climatic World Series victory).

The sixteen year arc of this program began with the strike of 1994 that drove fans away and continued through Cal Ripken’s pursuit and surpassing of the record for the most consecutive games played, the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa home run records, and the emergence of Barry Bonds to break those records. Steroids were interwoven through all the home run excitement and Burns wraps up the program by focusing on that.

The show also highlights the good parts of baseball: the emergence of Latino players as some of the best that ever played the game, the return of the Yankees to dominance, the crushing defeat of the Red Sox in the fall of 2003 and their Lazarus-like victory in 2004.

This film is typical of earlier works by Burns with archival film and photos guided by narrators and on-camera commentators. Pedro Martinez was one of the more thoughtful speakers, believe it or not. Certainly there was someone more insightful regarding baseball than George Will. Mike Barnicle was omnipresent which, as a Facebook friend, was completely ironic: a guy fired by the Globe for plagiarism sharing the stage with those decrying how steroid use was cheating. Keith Olbermann was on camera often. Fortunately, he’s easier to take when he’s talking about sports than when he’s talking about politics.

Back in June when Ken Burns spoke at the Middlesex Community College Celebrity Forum, he focused on his National Parks film, but in the question and answer session, he gave some teasers about The Tenth Inning. I would judge it to be a success and well worth watching.

4 Responses to “The Tenth Inning” by Ken Burns

  1. Dean says:

    Saw the it on the first night. Thought it was great, especially when the Yankees won four World Serias in five years.

  2. Steve says:

    Yeah, Olberman surprised me by being cogent and interesting in this documentary.
    The Black sports writer, whom I don’t know, was very good, as of course is Costas. Also made me realize that I do miss reading Barnicle’s column. Too bad he chose to plagiarize some forgettable jokes when he had written some unforgettable human interest stories. My wife has never watched more than two pitches at a time, but even she watched the whole documentary (without falling asleep).

  3. Michael Luciano says:

    How can you have a four hour documentary about Major League Baseball in the 1990s and 2000s and not mention the all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman at all?