Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ken Burns "The Tenth Inning" Review: Bottom of the Tenth

This is the second post on the series that PBS and Ken Burns have teamed up to bring called "Baseball" . This newest installment of the documentary is called the "Tenth Inning," because innings one through nine were covered in the original series in 1994. The "Tenth Inning" is a two part, four hour series that focuses on everything that has happened in baseball since 1994 and there is a lot to cover in that short amount of time.

The second evening was called the "Bottom of the Tenth" and here is a review of some of the major topics that were covered"

Expanding Baseball to a Global Market
Ichiro Suzuki was the major focus of this portion of the series. It was great to get a look at his origins and how far he has come. Ichiro has had quite the impact on baseball so his presence in the "Tenth Inning" was obvious. I felt that the series should have looked more at how much the game has expanded to the global market. The World Baseball Classic is an event that has also played a role in the expansion of baseball to the global market. Ichiro will be a first ballot member of the hall-of-fame but there was too much focus on him.

September 11th
The terrorist attack that shook every American to their core had an impact on the baseball season in 2001. Baseball games were cancelled as the country tried to recover. Eventually it was time for the country to get back to some semblance of normalcy. Baseball allowed the country to do that. I felt that Burns approach to this was very classy. He touched on the events of that day and how important baseball was to the recovery. Could baseball every cover-up the events of that day? No. But for a few hours the people of New York, Washington DC, and the rest of the world could focus on the beautiful game of baseball.

The Red Sox breaking the Curse
It was an event that many people had waited their whole lifetime for, the Red Sox winning the World Series. Their path to that win was even more remarkable. The Yankees had jumped out to a huge lead in the ALCS. There was no way the Red Sox could win. All of a sudden something changed. A stolen base here, a homerun there, and the Sox were champions of the American League. The footage that hit home with me was the shots of the cemetery. Citizens of Red Sox Nation visited their deceased relatives to leave hats, signs, etc. because the curse had been broken. The Red Sox had won the World Series.

Steroids and the Fall of Barry Bonds
As much as the "Top of the Tenth" showed the rise of Barry Bonds, the "Bottom of the Tenth" showed the many reasons for his fall. His ego got in the way of what he could have been. He was already on pace to be one of the greatest players of all-time. Steroids interrupted his road to greatness. I felt that Bob Costas did the best at explaining Bonds' chase for the all-time home run record. He explained it as "A joyless march toward the inevitable." Everyone knew he would do it but how many people truly cared. The record was tainted.

Overall the "Tenth Inning" was very good. It was a great history lesson for the casual fan. For the more experienced fan it was a great reflection on how far the sport has come over the last 16 years.

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