Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ken Burns' Baseball: The Tenth Inning

Now I've mentioned my dislike for the game of baseball many times on this blog. I mean, I can't even get into baseball as a video game, and you can get me into almost any sport after I've played it in video game form. I just find it boring and there are way too many games in a season for any one game to have any meaning until near the end of the season, like the 130 games in the middle are almost garbage time.

I know saying that will likely make some fans of the game get angry, or tell me that I just don't understand, and they have that right. I am merely stating my opinion on the matter because I have to be clear, because it is relevant for the rest of this discussion.

Given those feelings, you would naturally assume that I would absolutely loathe The Tenth Inning, Ken Burns' continuation of 1994's epic documentary series Baseball, but somehow he manages to suck me in once again. I wasn't a fan of the sport in 1994, but I still watched the entire documentary back during the strike.

Granted, the update probably could have had another subtitle, like "Bonds, Boston, The Immigrant Experience and The Strike" because in those four items, I have encapsulated the entire 4 hour examination of the sport of baseball that Ken Burns presented. For those of you who watched it, did I miss something.

The thing that I found amazing about the whole thing is at least in the first half, Barry Bonds actually comes off sympathetically, and I never thought I would find myself feeling sympathy for him. And as always, it was very well put together, although it did showcase something which I hadn't thought of but should have been obvious from a historical perspective (and it was something the filmmaker didn't have control over).

I am talking about using the voiceovers from Fox for their World Series coverage, because now all those historic moments, like Boston finally winning it all are tainted by the silly sound effects that network uses when it is showing the score. It is a minor quibble, but it is something I hope other networks think about with their own broadcasts in the future... that someday someone might pay to use that narration and it would be nice if it wasn't filled with obnoxious flavor of the month sounds.

But overall, it was a wholly enjoyable experience, even for someone who hates the subject matter.

Ultimately, I hope that this whole thing ends up giving PBS some ideas... like maybe they will bring Rock & Roll back with a couple of new episodes to fill in the past decade and a half too.

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