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Ouisie Shapiro
Narrated By:
Liev Schreiber
Writing Credits:
Ouisie Shapiro

The healing of a nation began with the swing of a bat.

The tragedy and horror of the 9/11 attacks triggered a host of changes in America, including a reassessment of the role of sports and its accompanying hero-worship. Batting averages and home run totals were no longer paramount, particularly in New York, but in the Fall of 2001 baseball played a significant role in the city's recovery efforts. Nine Innings From Ground Zero revisits that remarkable and inspiring phenomenon.

Rated NR

Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 62 min.
Price: $19.97
Release Date: 3/29/2005

• None


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Nine Innings From Ground Zero (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 13, 2005)

An odd thing happened in the fall of 2001. Normally, most baseball fans who don’t live in New York maintain a definite disdain for the Yankees. However, in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, the Yanks sort of became “America’s Team” as they pushed through the playoffs.

Call me cold-hearted if you’d like, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t overcome a lifelong disdain for the Yankees in a couple short weeks, so I was happy to see the Arizona Diamondbacks narrowly defeat them in the World Series. Only one thing makes me root for the Yanks: competition against the Boston Red Sox, the sole other baseball team I hate more than the Bronx Bombers.

But that’s a subject for another review. This one looks at a documentary called Nine Innings from Ground Zero, an exploration of the aftermath of 9/11 and the way the Yankees aided New York’s emotional recovery.

As usual, much of the information comes via interviews. We hear from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine, New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly, players Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill, Mark Grace, Derek Jeter, and Curt Schilling, New York City Fire Department Chief Tom Giordano, local fans Elizabeth Feld, Stacey Gotsulias, Lonny Shockley, Scott Gutterson, and Rudy Palmer, singer Liza Minnelli, author David Fisher, CNN political commentator/Boston Red Sox fan Mark Shields, writers Buster Olney, Shaun Powell, and Tom Verducci, Guardian Angels founder/president Curtis Sliwa, mayor’s chief of staff Anthony Carbonetti, mayor’s communications director Sunny Mindel, umpire Jim Joyce, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush, NYC FD Captain Jeffrey Simms, and firefighter Wayne Wright. In addition, we get remarks from the following relatives of attack victims: Caren Barbara, Greg Manning, Kathleen Coppo, Brielle Saracini, Ellen Saracini, and Kieran Lynch. Note that sportswriter Powell’s brother also perished in the attack, so he does double-duty here.

Innings starts with a quick recap of 9/11 events and gets into relief efforts and the involvement of the local teams. It discusses the role of baseball in the area’s emotional recovery as we see the comeback of baseball on September 21 and the way this helped change of attitude from mourning. As the Yanks move through the playoffs, we watch the nationwide support for the team as well sentiment against the D-backs.

In addition to the sports elements, we find out about the status of NYC during the Series and the fear of additional attacks as well as the atmosphere at the games. These go all the way through the end of the World Series, and we also see shots of the games intercut with the recovery efforts at Ground Zero as the participants discuss how the games helped keep them going.

Innings comes across as half 9/11 documentary and half recap of the 2001 World Series. Occasionally this makes it somewhat disjointed, but it usually acts as an interesting look at the ways the subjects intertwine. I like that it doesn’t attempt to encapsulate 9/11 in its entirety, as it’s fascinating to dig into that subject via one narrow area of the related experience.

Most of the best moments come from various anecdotes. I really like the parts about Bush throwing out the first pitch at a game. We hear about how the Secret Service put an agent on the field in umpire’s garb, and the president also talks about the pressures put on him to throw a good pitch.

As one might expect, quite a few emotional moments come through as well. Writer Powell discusses the effect “God Bless America” had on him due to his brother’s death at the Pentagon, and the tale of young Yankee obsessive Brielle Saracini and her meeting with idol Jeter works well too. Plenty of similar moments pop up in the show.

Innings starts slowly and needs some time to coalesce. However, it becomes much more involving as we get into the Series and it better balances the two sides. It feels awkward at first, but those problems soon dissipate.

The only real problem with the piece couldn’t be helped. The way Innings progresses seems to lead us inexorably toward a Yankees triumph and a total shot in the arm for the city. Alas, history didn’t work out that way, as the Bombers narrowly went down to defeat in Game Seven. The way the show builds up, this will come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with real events; it sure feels like that’s how it’ll end.

Despite that odd sense of pacing, Nine Innings from Ground Zero proves satisfying. No one will find a flawless examination of both 9/11 and that year’s baseball playoffs, but it manages to balance both subjects well, and it combines them for an informative piece.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus F

Nine Innings from Ground Zero appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Picture quality seemed a bit erratic but was mainly good.

Within the constraints of the material, sharpness seemed fine. I based most of my opinions on the interviews conducted expressly for this documentary, and they presented decent accuracy and delineation. They never looked terribly detailed, but they appeared adequately concise. Occasional examples of jagged edges and moiré effects occurred, and I also noticed some light edge enhancement at times. Not surprisingly, the archival footage demonstrated some defects. The new shots were cleanest. The image showed sporadic instances of specks and marks in the older shots, though they weren’t too bad.

The program demonstrated somewhat drab but decent colors. They varied dependent on the source, but they mostly seemed fairly natural and clear. Blacks were reasonably deep and dense, and the few low-light shots looked acceptably concise. Given the nature of the program, Innings seemed perfectly watchable, but it didn’t offer a particularly strong visual presentation.

It should come as no surprise that the Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtrack of Nine Innings from Ground Zero presented a pretty subdued affair, but it seemed pretty satisfying. The major material from the side speakers concentrated on music, as the score offered nice stereo separation and imaging. Occasional effects popped up, mainly due to the ballgames. Those also spread nicely to the surrounds. Otherwise, the chatty mix largely concentrated on the center.

Audio quality appeared perfectly acceptable. Speech was consistently natural and distinctive. I noticed no issues with edginess or intelligibility. The score seemed clear and very well reproduced, as the music appeared warm and vivid. The effects were a smaller part of the mix. Still, they came across as clean and fairly accurate. Nothing special occurred here, but the audio of Innings was more than fine for this sort of program.

No supplements appear on the DVD. That’s too bad, as it could have included some nice baseball and historical footage to expand the subject.

For an unusual take on the repercussions of September 11, we get Nine Innings from Ground Zero. At times this program doesn’t balance its two sides terribly well, but it avoids most related pitfalls and ultimately comes together nicely. The DVD presents adequate picture and sound but lacks any supplements. With a list price of almost $20, this DVD’s a bit expensive for what you get, but it at least merits a rental, as the documentary is quite good.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5128 Stars Number of Votes: 39
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