I’m wondering if anyone else managed to sit through Ken Burns’ addendum to his film on baseball – four hours of coverage of the last decade or two, picking up where his previous film ended (and, alas, unredeemed by appearances by the late Buck O’Neill). He managed to reduce recent baseball history largely to: a. steroids; b. the strike and c. Yankees vs. Red Sox.
Those are all certainly major aspects of contemporary baseball history, but I’m wondering what a REAL baseball historian (and film-maker) would do to tell the story of the last decade or two. What ‘s missing, in other words?
Obviously, “moneyball” (Bill James/sabermetrics), which got mentioned once, with a brief nod to the Oakland A’s (I don’t think James or Billy Beane were so much as mentioned, however). I was really surprised there was no mention of the gradual decline in African-American players in baseball. I also thought the issue of competitive balance (small markets vs. large markets) ought to be front and center, which certainly wasn’t the case in Burns’ film. Anything else?
The Cleveland Indians were more or less absent from Burns’ film, by the way. He did cover Jason Grimsley’s famous crawl to glory, and Omar was interviewed once. There was a bit on the ‘95 series, but it was understandably about the Braves. Lots of LGFT, however: especially in the Boston vs. NY coverage, where Manny Ramirez and Dave Roberts were central, and Alan Embree was on hand as well.