Ken Burns working on update to baseball documentary


Hopefully, most of you are familiar with Ken Burns’s Baseball, a documentary on the history of the game. If not, I suggest you go drop $120 on the box set. While the creator says he’d never revisit any of his other works, he’s currently working on an update to the series. It’s a year away, slated for spring 2010 on PBS, and will be titled The Tenth Inning.

A great segment from the Houston Chronicle article:

“There was a guy named Pete O’Brien who said in 1858, ‘You know, they don’t play baseball the way they used to,’ ” Burns said. “Every 10 years, somebody is saying the same thing — that it’s all over.”

Burns clearly does not subscribe to that theory.

“Think of it. Since the end of (the original Baseball documentary), we have seen Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and John Smoltz and the Braves,” he said. “We have seen the Yankees finally coalesce under one of the game’s most gifted managers (Joe Torre), throwing off the buy-buy mentality of George Steinbrenner to give him time to develop Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.

“Sure, we had steroids, but, man, look at what else we have to offer. The Red Sox. We have Ichiro. We have Cal Ripken. Think of the Willie Mays catch (in the 1954 World Series). Now we have a caliber of play and athleticism that produces similar (catches) all the time. The Marlins won the World Series, twice. The Rays made it to the World Series.

“We are in the middle of a baseball renaissance, as (commissioner) Bud Selig says, and, working on this, I have to agree.”

As Burns contemplates the steroid era, he looks at it through the filter of American life at large.

“We live in the age of Viagra,” he said. “People take (medications) to make things better. Why would players be any different?”

The series moves forward from the 1992 World Series. Count me among those who will watch this with rapt attention.

Categories : Days of Yore
  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime


    This might have been the first thing to make me smile all day. Count me in.

  • http://www.stilettosetsports.com Mike

    I can’t wait for that!

  • jsbrendog

    sofa king exit ed

  • http://26ncounting.blogspot.com VO

    I’ll watch it.

  • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

    Pretty cool, can’t wait.

    Fun Fact #something:

    Moises Alou and Jorge Posada urinate on their hands to remove calluses, which is why they don’t need to wear batting gloves. Madonna also uses this method of urination on her feet to cure her athletes foot.

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      I was seriously just about to go grab dinner…

      • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal


        My bad.

  • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

    Its also on every tuesday on MLB network, which is better than paying 120$

  • JohnnyC

    I roomed with Ken’s younger brother Ric (yes, that’s how he spells it) in college and Ken was and still is a die-hard Red Sox fan. It shows when he thinks Joe Torre “developed” Jeter, Posada, and Rivera.

  • Cameron

    I thought you guys might want to post a story about this because if the real stadium is anything close to the PS3 version, it should be awesome.


  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    Hey, don’t know if you heard, but MLB passed two rule changes–

    1) Head to head record determines home field in a Wild Card one gamer,


    2) All playoff games will be played to conclusion, ie no rain shortened games. H/T to Fran on LoHud

    • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

      nice, what if there is a 3 way tie in the division(could happen this year)

      • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

        Where? In the West?

        Yankees: 162-0. Book it.

        • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal


  • http://asportsaddictneedsdivineintervention.blogspot.com/ E-ROC

    Cool post. I can’t wait to see this update.

  • D.B.H.O.F. p.k.a The Last Don

    “I suggest you go drop $120 on the box set”

    I suggest you go to your local library and watch it for free and put that $120 to paying off some debt.

  • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

    “We have seen the Yankees finally coalesce under one of the game’s most gifted managers (Joe Torre), throwing off the buy-buy mentality of George Steinbrenner to give him time to develop Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.”

    Its stuff like this that makes it tough for me to take Burn’s work seriously. He manages to get multiple things wrong in a single sentence.

    1-Torre’s record before joining the Yanks was below .500. If he was ‘so gifted’ why didn’t he win before he worked for George? Torre was a perfect fit to be sure, but doesn’t George deserve SOME credit? He gives him none and makes him out to be an obstacle. Also, anyone who knows anything about the Yanks knows those teams were built by Stick and Buck, not Joe.

    2-The Yanks led the league in payroll every year except 1998. Cone, Clemens, Justice, Knoblauch and others were all salary dumps. The “Buy buy mentality” was never discarded.

    3-Jeter hit the ground running, as did Mo once he was put in the bullpen. They didn’t need time to develop. Posada did, but he didn’t take over the full time catching job until Girardi left after 1999, so they only won 1 of their 4 championships with Posada as the starting catcher. I don’t know how much credit you give the second string catcher for winning championships, but I know its not as much as the first string catcher.

    Typically sloppy stuff, more interested in drawing a narrative and being entertaining then getting his facts straight.

    • the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusiness

      Great points by the artist here. Burns does not really understand how baseball works. Fortunately, his Baseball documentary is excellent despite this. An example: when chronicling the 1908 World Series between Honus and Cobb, Baseball claims that Cobb stood on first and yelled, “I’m coming down to second, Kraut!” This has widely been reported to be false and an example of setting the narrative. However, Baseball also presented photographs and even film of the early World Series which I have never seen elsewhere. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen for the new installment which will probably be disappointing. Burns is one of countless people in the good reporter, terrible analyst category.

    • D.B.H.O.F. p.k.a The Last Don

      “Typically sloppy stuff, more interested in drawing a narrative and being entertaining then getting his facts straight.”

      Agreed. He is good at the “story” part of it, and he does a nice job culling pictures that I have never seen elsewhere.

  • JeffG

    Yeah – I caught the first chapter of it on MLB Network (which I am a huge fan of already) and I’m hooked. Not sure how many Tuesday nights this thing is going to run but I’m in.

  • pete c.

    I think that’s great. However I felt he didn’t spend enough time on the sixties (one episode?), arguably the last decade baseball was the most popular sport in the nation, and the last decade we still looked at the players as idols.

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