Ken Burns Revisits Baseball in "The Tenth Inning"

By Michael Preston
|  Friday, Nov 1, 2013  |  Updated 9:56 AM PDT
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Documentary filmmaker extraordinaire Ken Burns made a rule that he would never revisit a topic once he'd given it the full, silver screen treatment.

But that was before his favorite sport was rocked by a prolonged period of drug-fueled scandal.

In 1994, he released "Baseball," an 18 hour-long love letter that traced the history of America's pastime from its beginnings into the early 90s.

Now, Burns is back with "The Tenth Inning, a relatively short - by Burns standards- four-hour film that picks up where the last film left off and examines some of the problems that have faced the game since then, reports the New York Daily News.

While speaking to members of the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles, Burns revealed what led him to tackle the subject again.

"The Red Sox made me think about it, said Burns, a die-hard Boston fan, but he added, "steroids made me do it."

The film follows the home run boom that dominated that late 90s and the eventual discovery that many of the heroes of that era were powered by performance-enhancing drugs.

There is also a focus on the rise of Latino players over the last two decades.

Burns maintains that "The Tenth Inning" does not judge, but rather presents a nuanced picture of the game.

"It's never been the simple game we like to imagine," says Lynn Novick, Burns co-filmmaker who also happens to be a big fan of the Bronx Bombers.

The great home run races created a problem for the filmmakers as they constructed their narrative.

"We really wrestled with the question: How do you recapture the joy, but at the same time know you are setting the traps for a tragedy?"

To that end, Burns offered an ambivalent response when he was asked whether players like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire should be in the Hall of Fame.

"My solution goes back to Pete Rose," he said. "Vote him into the hall after he dies. Because he deserves to be in, but he doesn't deserve to know he's in."

"The Tenth Inning" is set to air September 28-29.

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