October 17th was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake and the San Francisco Giants are in the World Series again, so it only seems fitting to talk about ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary The Day The Series Stopped. Director Ryan Fleck takes you back to the unforgettable 1989 earthquake that rocked the Bay Area just prior to the World Series Game 3 between the A’s and the Giants. It’s not the best documentary about the Loma Prieta earthquake, but it’s definitely the most sports-focused one.
The documentary begins by exploring the rivalry between the two teams and cities and setting up the atmosphere of the Bay Area at the time. You meet the important players and coaches and characters from each team. You meet a few fans and what their teams mean to them. Fleck does a great job of setting you up for the moment that changed everything. At 5:04 p.m. the ground started to shake as 6.9 magnitude quake roared to life. You experience the quake through the eyes of the players, coaches, broadcasters, and fans in the stadium that day.
At first they are shaken, then relieved, then they want the game to start. But soon they start to hear reports of all the widespread damage and chaos and the scope of the tragedy starts to set in. Baseball takes a backseat to Mother Nature any day of the week. The documentary explores the eyewitness accounts of fans, players, and coaches and even delves into the science of earthquakes. It shows the healing power of sports through escapism. It’s emotional, educational, and entertaining. It’s not the best 30 for 30 documentary but it’s one of my favorites. Although, I’m a little bit biased because I experienced the quake myself and my parents were at that game. It’s worth watching.
Critically Rated at 14/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young
The 25th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake is coming up on October 17th. It seems only fitting that I write about it because it was one of my clearest memories from my early childhood. I was roughly 4 and a half years old and was at my house in Pacifica, CA, which is just south of San Francisco. My parents were at Game 3 of the World Series and my grandma was watching my sisters and me. At 5:04 p.m. (I don’t remember the exact time, but Google does) the ground started to shake. I remember feeling the rumble and seeing the keys on the hook swaying back and forth. I remember my grandma repeating “Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Oh dear,” over and over again. I knew that it was an earthquake, because I started crying when it was over. Not because I was scared, but because I forgot to go under the table and cover up like they taught us in preschool. Here was my chance to show off my earthquake survival skills and I blew it.
My house wasn’t fortunately wasn’t damaged but the electricity went out. I remember sitting around in candlelight for hours until my parents came home. My grandma asked how it was outside. They said that the lights were out all over the city. I wondered aloud if that included the light inside the car when you opened the door. I didn’t realize the magnitude of the situation. I was only four, I couldn’t grasp the severity. My aunt and uncle had just gotten married and were on their honeymoon. They turned on the TV to hear news reports that the Bay Bridge and multiple freeways collapsed, that Candlestick Park was cracked in half, that houses had crumbled, and how fires were running rampant. A 6.9 quake in a populated area is devastating, and we were fortunate that only sixty-three lives were lost.
The World Series saved a lot of lives that year. The Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants were both competing in the Fall Classic that was dubbed the Battle of the Bay. The freeways were surprisingly clear during what was typically rush hour because everybody was settled in to watch the game. It was also because of the World Series that it became the first earthquake to be broadcast live on national television. It became an event. People who didn’t experience it personally still remember it profoundly. You have to respect Mother Nature because she can be a fucking bitch sometimes. But the flag of SF depicts a phoenix for a reason: because out of the ashes we will be reborn.
Critically Rated at 10/17
Written, Rated, and, Reviewed by Brendan H. Young
(hopefully you caught on to why it’s rated like that)
Earthquakes are quite possibly the most destructive force of nature. It happens when two tectonic plates slide past each other along a fault line. The resulting energy causes the Earth to shake violently. Earthquakes happen every single day, but most of them are too small to notice or care about. But every couple of months there will be a powerful and devastating earthquake somewhere that will topple buildings, destroy cities, and ruin lives. You can’t successfully predict when an earthquake will strike, but you can always be prepared for one. Make sure you have some bottled water and canned goods tucked away just in case the big one happens. And make sure you have beer, because beer makes everything a little more bearable.
I live in San Francisco, which sits right on the San Andreas Fault. And that means that a major earthquake will strike eventually. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when it will occur. We don’t live in fear of the big one. We know that it’s coming. There will be a huge earthquake and people will die. It happened in 1906. It happened again in 1989. And it’s just a matter of time before another one strikes. All we can do is hope that we aren’t trapped in the subway or stuck on the top floor of a high rise. It’s pretty nerve-wracking when your whole world starts to shake and fall and break apart. But the shaking will eventually stop and then you’ll be forced to worry about other things, things that earthquakes cause. Things like tsunamis and fires. And those things just add insult to injury and cause even more devastation than a little ground movement does. Earthquakes are no joke, but they aren’t something to live in fear of.
Critically Rated at 12/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young