I spent Christmas afternoon, and most of the evening, watching the latter portions of Ken Burns’ epic documentary titled Baseball, which had been produced in 1994. (I had the DVR set to record the early portions in the “wee” hours the night before and will catch up with them in the near future). Although I had watched most of the ten segments previously, I was willing to sit through several hours worth of it once more, particularly the parts dealing with the early era of the game and the historic ballparks.
The photographs and rare film footage simply cannot be beat. And I also was intrigued, once again, with the greed on display by owners who didn’t think twice about pulling up stakes and moving their franchises to other parts of the country, stripping bare the emotions and feelings of the fans they left behind. I can only imagine how bitterly jolting it must have been for a Brooklyn Dodgers’ fan in 1957-58. Same with the Giants, who took off for San Francisco.
The documentary re-affirms, once more, why the game of baseball is still my favorite and the year-after-year passion I have for it and its glorious–and not-so-glorious–history, although it is decidedly skewed toward all things Yankees and Red Sox.
True, one cannot dispute the legend and lore that surrounds the New York Yankees and their dominance through the years. Boston, on the other hand, has, more often than not, been the “almost-but-not-quite” team, seemingly on par with the Cubs as loveable losers, year after year. It’s all very interesting, for the most part, but I would prefer that Burns and his associates spread the coverage around more equally.
And perhaps a wider array of narrators and commenters could be included instead of the continuous realm of Red Sox and Yankee writers/fans. After all, there are histories to be told of all major league franchises–new and old–and much is left untold in the many hours of this film (Cardinals, Indians, White Sox, Cubs, et al). Just a personal pet peeve of mine.
As for the White Sox, the focus always seems to fall directly on the era of the “Black Sox” scandal and the black eye it left. White Sox fans know, however, that there is much more to be told–before and after–the dastardly deeds of those eight players of infamy! The reasons for the Black Sox scandal and the ruthlessness of owner Comiskey are worth exploring in greater depth. Regardless, we cannot change history. What happened will always be what it is, for better or for worse, and there is nothing that anyone can do about it.
For what it’s worth, Burns’s film is valuable and well worth watching whenever it pops up on TV. It serves as a reminder that time is fleeting and each season seems to run into the next season and into the next and into the next. Before we know it, yesterday’s games are those of long ago!
On a cold Christmas afternoon and evening, watching Baseball certainly provided great entertainment and got the juices flowing in anticipation of a fresh and new baseball season.
Christmas over with, we can begin to see spring training edging ever closer and all things are new again and the failures of last season are but mere vanishing shadows!
See you at the ballpark…