My nightly routine involves a half-hour or so of Netflix before I fall asleep, and after I rewatched all the Kids in the Hall seasons, I checked out Ken Burns Baseball, which a dear friend of mine had recommended. Now this friend of mine was quite the history buff, and he could watch and enjoy a documentary on the evolution of the coatrack, so I wasn't sure about Ken Burns Baseball. But I have to say, after about two months of watching all eleven parts of the series, this is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen.
If you have Netflix streaming and you love baseball (and of course you all do) this is a must-watch. Burns tracks baseball from its earliest origins up until the early '90s. Now, many of the episodes focus a little heavy on the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, but it does capture an overall sense of the history with wonderful footage and specific stories. He also spends a lot of time documenting the negro leagues, which I feel like never gets enough examination. Josh Gibson's career is so amazing and tragic and hightlighted well in all its heart-breaking complexity by Burns.
One of Burns' closest player stories focuses on Ty Cobb. Kaline and the post-'60s Tigers hardly get a mention, but I can forgive it for the amazing introspection given to other facets of the game, like the reserve clause. Anyway, as for Cobb, Burns takes his time, shows the legend honestly, from both sides of his persona. He's such an asshole, mostly a terrible human being and a racist bastard. But, the way he plays, his working-class background, make things complicated for me as a collector. I find myself wondering if I want to be a fan of Cobb or not. Can I forgive his faults and chalk it up to his generation and upbringing. I'm just not sure. How do you collectors out there deal with the disgusting racism of your Cap Ansons and Enos Slaughters and so on?
So, Cobb may be a terrible person, but he was a helluva player. He exemplifies an old school scrappy style that may be missing in today's game. And this card is probably the perfect picture of terrible and awesome all wrapped up into one:
Damn it, I want to collect a player that makes cards like this, but I'm conflicted in that I can't respect Cobb's personality. Can we separate the two?
So, besides my Cobb conflict, have you seen Ken Burns Baseball yet? If so, what did you think?