Ken Burns has a reputation for knocking projects out of the park. His latest, "The Tenth Inning," feels more like a double.

The four-hour, two-night event, a sequel to his 1994 epic "Baseball," picks up where Burns left off in the mid-'80s and rapidly chugs toward the 2004 World Series win by his beloved Boston Red Sox. Along the way he and co-director Lynn Novick touch on the 1994-95 players strike, the reincarnation of the Yankees, corked bats, the introduction of interleague play and the home-run battle between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. It's all a bit exhausting.

In Burns' best work, he finds one overriding message or figure to follow. "The Tenth Inning" doesn't have that protagonist, although Barry Bonds comes close. Also missing is the historic, almost poetic reverence Burns generally lends to his subject matter, whether it's been the Civil War or jazz. In this case, time is not on Burns' side.

That doesn't mean there isn't plenty to cheer. Keith Olbermann tells a moving story about a Mets fan's allegiance to his team in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, and the footage is top-notch.

Next time, though, let's hope Burns goes back to swinging for the fences.

NEAL JUSTIN