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Ken Burns' 10th Inning

We've heard about this before, but yesterday documentary maker Ken Burns gave a hint about what his addendum to "Baseball" -- called "The 10th Inning" -- is going to look like:

Burns described "The Tenth Inning's" opening scene - the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the 1992 NLCS between Pittsburgh and the Braves, when Atlanta's Sid Bream slides home to score the winning run on Francisco Cabrera's hit to left field.

"The Pirates had a certain left fielder whose throw was (just) short on his last play as a Pirate," Burns said, his eyes twinkling with enthusiasm, "and we'll just take it from there: 'Oh, by the way his name is Barry Bonds, who happens to have just a little importance over the arc of the next 18 years of baseball."'

I appreciate that many people simply don't want to hear about performance enhancing drugs anymore, but I think one of the biggest reasons for the fatigue is the hysterical, breathless and over-the-top coverage the subject gets on TV and in the daily papers. I've long felt that the only way we'll ever get some reasonable perspective on all of this is to take this story away from the reporters and turn it over to the historians, who will be able to put this era in its proper context. Burns isn't an historian as such, but he's pretty damn close. Hopefully he'll be able to compare Barry Bonds with, say, Hal Chase and Gaylord Perry -- two guys who cheated to greater (Chase) or lesser (Perry) extent -- as opposed to some idealized ballplayer that seems to roam the memories of every newspaper columnist.

No, one documentary won't change all that much by itself, but it can certainly get the conversational ball rolling, and maybe that will be enough to bring some sanity and -- dare I say it -- closure to a subject that has held the sport hostage for the past five or six years.