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)