In reading some of these posts in the thread, I guess the first question is, why do some of you keep watching Ken Burns' programs if they annoy you? Someone even suggested you should watch his stuff with your "KBG" (Ken Burns glasses on. There are plenty of documentary programs on the history of baseball. Forget about Ken Burns and move on!
Would the game have been better without Cobb? I don't know. Unfortunately, he was a racist, violent, metally disturbed person. That behavior is never acceptable or justifiable at any time or place in history. I understand that the great majority of white Americans of Ty Cobb's time were racist, but that doesn't mean that they therefore engaged in the rampant anger and violence Cobb displayed to African-Americans. Of course, the game and the country would have been a racist and violent (lynchings) place without him, but as a leading figure in baseball, he certainly had influence and persuasion towards others (fast-forward to Charles Barkley's "I am not a role model"). And someone said Ty Cobb had black friends. This is misleading. The black men Cobb considered "friends" were people with menial jobs or child-like, simpleton Stepin Fetchits like the Tigers batboy, Lil' Rastus. These were men who offered no threat to Cobb's whiteness or his manhood. By the way, I wonder if any of his black "friends" knew that Cobb was very likely a member of the Ku Klux Klan?
I don't think Ken Burns is filled with white guilt. Nor do I think dignifying the story of African-American history has to come on the back of denigrating white history. But unfortunately, our country's past is rampant with racial injustice. As some so often put it, "That's just the way people thought back then."
One of my university profs once told me that "history is not there to make people happy." Once again, he's very right...