A&E // 2008 // 991 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // May 26th, 2008
Pesky's Pole, the Green Monster, and lots of signs for the Jimmy Fund -- all here for the Sawx fan in your life to peruse and enjoy.
Between Judge Dave Ryan and myself, you can tell that there's appreciation, understanding, respect, nay love, of all things having to do with the Boston Red Sox. Or at the very least, we have a visceral, palpable hatred of the New York Yankees and will heartily root for their downfall at every turn. However, over the last several years since Boston's historic 2004 World Series win and their reclamation of the title in 2007, things appear to have gotten, well, a little bit boring maybe? Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with winning, and I don't want to be one of those people that suggest that New England is the new "sports mecca" as other sports people have said in the last eight months, but with the Yankees struggling to make the playoffs each year, only to find themselves bounced out of the postseason usually in the first round, maybe the roles have reversed a little, don't you think? But while the Sox are doing well, it only makes sense to squeeze as much juice from the video-buying consumer's fruit as possible, and hence we have the Essential Games of Fenway Park, chosen by fans and housed in a convenient steelbook case to protect your six-game, six-disc investment. Fenway Park celebrated its 96th year of operations and is the oldest park in Major League Baseball. It has seen many of the game's greats come through its doors and play on its field, so to pick a list of essential games when the first quarter century had little if any televised coverage might have been tough, but fans managed to whittle the list down to six over the last four decades, with three games occurring within the last decade.
Going in chronological order, the earliest game is a key battle in 1967 between Boston and Minnesota. Carl Yastrzemski hit a key home run that eventually propelled the Sox to the American League pennant and a berth in the World Series. From there, the famed Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is next, as Carlton Fisk's now legendary home run is given full attention and glory. The next choice is an odd one, and it's Roger Clemens striking out a record 20 batters in 1986 en route to a 3-1 win. What's odd about it is that Clemens left Boston and wound up playing for the Yankees for a few years, which I thought was tantamount to smacking the Pope right in the mouth. But in the wake of Clemens' recent troubles and the inference of steroid usage as a player, maybe time and pity caused Boston fans to forgive, I don't know. Next is the 1999 All-Star Game, which was memorable for Ted Williams' emotional appearance at the stadium, not to mention Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez and his impressive handling of the National League All-Stars. Two games against the Yankees complete the set; the first a 13-1 pasting of the Yanks in the 1999 League Championship Series, and last year's four consecutive home runs which led to a 7-6 win.
Allow me to vent a little about the quality of this set. Now by no means do I disagree with what games were chosen, and Major League Baseball goes out of its way to say that "this historic program contains technical imperfections that are inherent in the original recordings." With a 2007 game though, I hoped that they would take the leap and present that (and any other recent games) in high definition to represent the changing technology. It's a complaint I've had before and will continue to voice until I'm heard, by crikey! Anyway, the video quality is, to be expected, a little spotty and a little incomplete at times; in the inning where Yaz hits his homer, you get two batters and a card indicating a pitching change before the homer is hit, and the 2007 Yanks game features the pitcher looking like he has an odd halo around him on the mound. It's almost as if the A&E folks seemed to patch this together rather hastily, I dunno...
The set isn't a wash, I mean after viewing six very interesting and good games, you've got some additional footage that still feels a little bit hollow. You've got a piece on Fenway, but it's only three minutes long, along with a separate three or four-minute piece on Williams. Williams' first pitching appearance at the '99 All-Star Game is shown, but strangely enough, the "All-Century Team," which included other legends such as Bob Feller and Brooks Robinson, isn't. Other various Sox moments in the park are also given snippets of additional footage, such as the last inning of no-hitters from Derek Lowe and Clay Buchholz (this part should be amended to include Jon Lester's recent no-no), along with Division-clinching moments and other memorable moments in Sox history, like Yastrzemski's 400th home run and 3,000th hit.
So would you want to watch these games in their entirety? Well, unless you are a Bosox or New England sports enthusiast, they're probably not for you, but this set is clearly marketed with a specific demographic in mind, and those people will snap it up like Johnny Cakes. I only wish they'd present these things a little better.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 991 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Extra Footage
* Official Team Site
* Fenway Park Tours
* Red Sox Message Boards
* DVD Verdict Review - 2004 World Series
* DVD Verdict Review - 2007 World Series