Where I Watched it: HBo MAX
English Audio Description?: Yes
When i started 2022, i didn’t think I would actually be watching two baseball documentaries about legendary players, but that’s how this year shaped up. The first was Facing nolan, and I followed it with this documentary about Barry Bonds. oh, wait. No, this is a Willie Mays documentary. My bad, sorry.
So Barry Bonds starts off the documentary talking about his career…. Dammit. I did it again. i just get so confused. It’s like, I see the title, and it says Willow mays, but I keep thinking Barry Bonds. perhaps it’s because Barry is such a gigantic presence in the film. The director tries to make it all make sense, but it feels like a lot of Barry Bonds.
For the first part, the documentary is all about Willie being drafted out of the Negro leagues and into Major League Baseball. This was back at the time when black players were still like unicorns in professional baseball. I mean, the Negro leagues were tearing it up, but as we learn, with MLB taking more and more of the top tier talent from them, it kind of put the needle in that coffin.
So, Willie becomes a star. And he’s the kind of star that everyone likes. He appears on TV shows where no other black cast members have appeared. He seems to transcend, like the rules, if that is such a thing, didn’t apply to him. Somewhere along the way, he starts playing with Barry’s father, and becomes the mentor to Barry, and that’s how the last third of the documentary is basically a Barry Bonds retrospective. Barry credits Willie’s plea to the Hall of Fame for him getting in, because Willie wanted to see it happen within his lifetime.
However, instead of just saying that, or taking like five minutes to show us that, the doc spends a lot of time on Barry Bonds, his father, Barry growing up, learning from Willie, becoming. A star, and all that nonsense. It’s like they couldn’t make a feature length documentary about Willie Mays interesting enough without padding it with all this Barry Bonds material.
Facing nolan was feature length, and all about nolan Ryan. Granted, it also doesn’t have audio description, and Say hey Willie Mays does. So, it’s nice having that audio description to be able to follow a lot of the footage they use of old games, and even some television appearances.I would like to know more of who is talking when, something that narrators of documentaries could do a better job of doing, but I just assume it’s probably Barry.
It’s a strong documentary, I just wish they had closed strong on Willie, and not on Barry. It should be about Willie’s contribution to the sport, and how multiple athletes have tried to follow his example. Instead, it’s a love letter from Barry Bonds. You take what you can get I suppose.
Final Grade: B+