Ken Burns’ “10th Inning” — an addendum to the acclaimed 9-part “Baseball” series” — premiered on PBS last night, and while Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra plans to skip the episode (“If a highlight that even looks like Jim Leyritz vs. Mark Wohlers comes on my TV I get nauseous as it is, so the last thing I want to do is watch George Will and Doris Kearns Goodwin and God knows who else waxing eloquently about it over some evocative mandolin music”), the Village Voice’s Allen Barra collects some choice quotes from the documentarian on the occasion of last week’s unveiling of the gargantuan George Steinbrenner plaque.
Are you here, we asked Burns, “because you’re an admirer of The Boss?
“Oh, puh-leese,” he shot back. “Springsteen is The Boss. Steinbrenner was Darth Vader.”
But what about his transformation of the Yankees from a second-division, second-rate organization to a world champion, multibillion-dollar corporation”
“Give me a break. Steinbrenner is the guy who woke up at third base and thought he hit a triple. It’s amazing how all this guy’s sleaze is suddenly forgotten. Who else would have hired a shady gambler (above) to follow one of his players around just to get dirt on them?” (As Steinbrenner did to Dave Winfield.).
Anyway, I tell Burns, it seems as if I finally outed him as a Red Sox fan.
“I’m a filmmaker first. My co-director, Lynn Novick, is the Yankees fan, so it all balances out.”
“Ah, hah,” I say. “‘It balances out.’ So you are a Red Sox fan?”
“I wasn’t born that way. I was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Michigan, and came to New England too late to get caught up in all that ’67 Impossible Dream stuff. But I admit that 2004 was my favorite season. I’ve never seen that kind of enthusiasm in baseball fans. Look at the World Series victory parade. Proportionately, I’ll bet they had five times the number of people in the streets that they have for a Yankees parade.”
“Right,” I say, “and they probably did that just by emptying all the bars.”