Shout! Factory // 2009 // 115 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // January 6th, 2010
Baseball's status as the "national pastime" may have been jeopardized by the ever-present marketing might (and ratings reality) of the NFL, but few years in the ole game's history can match 2009. It was the year when the New York Yankees shuttered the original House that Ruth Built for its own modern multimillionaire copycat. It was the season that saw said team bucking for its 27th World Championship, and unprecedented display of dynasty power. Spring training saw another famous face (Alex Rodriguez) fall under the steroids microscope, while smaller teams like Tampa Bay and the Twins continued their small payroll/big winning percentage ways. It was also the athletic marathon that saw Philadelphia try for something significant: the first NL team to repeat as World Series champions since the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds. So when it came down to the Yankees and Phillies in the big diamond dance, it looked like the stuff of legend. After six astonishing games, it was.
Now comes Major League Baseball's documentary souvenir of said Series, a well made memento to (spoiler alert) the Yankees' domination of their opponent. For 115 astonishing minutes, we are walked through the highs and the lows, the balls and the strikes of the 2009 showdown, complete with monster plays, heroic pitching, and questionable managerial and umpire calls. If you've ever seen one of the NFL's highlight reels, the low drone voice turning every game element into an issue of monumental sports importance, you get the idea. MLB may not have the same access to voice talent, but their ability to capture each batter and reaction -- offensively and defensively -- cannot be beat. As we walk through each team's path to the World Series, the themes for each squad are established. The Yankees become known as the clutch team, several of their wins coming from a rash of walk-off home runs. The Phillies, on the other hand, are the team of fate. They seem secure in returning to the championship, even as they muddle through some late inning comebacks.
If you love the Bronx Bombers or the Pennsylvania Powerhouses, you'll adore this DVD. The image is amazing, Shout! Factory doing a sensational job of transferring both the TV feed and the MLB footage into a gorgeous 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image. We can see the sweat slicking across the players' brows, the wisps of steam coming off their jerseys as the temperature turns cold. The camerawork is also superb, capturing every tense pitcher/batter clash and each long gone home run. Sure, some of the material is merely overused stock from a dozen game day media reports, but there are also sequences that stick as far more intimate and behind the scenes. Overall, the visual aspect and storytelling of this Major League Baseball Production is excellent. Even the sound reproduction, offered in standard Dolby Digital Stereo, is excellent. When the ball cracks the wood of the bat and sails off into the stands, you could swear you are sitting in Yankee stadium, experiencing the majesty of such an amazing accomplishment.
But where this DVD truly excels is in the added content. MLB has decides to include several of the important moments of the entire playoff picture, including several of A-Rod's important hits, famous last outs, Hideki Matsui's Game Four homer, and the last three at-bats of the final game. Also included are player and team reactions, allowing us inside the idolatry to see what it's really like for a highly paid ball player to win his first (or fifth) World Series. It's remarkable material, the kind of backstage glimpse we expect from such a connected corporate title. But there is more to this memento than simply highlighting yet another Yankee victory. There is real suspense here and a true passion for the game. Even without the forehand knowledge of who wins, we are swept up in the epic sweep of events, waiting for the next pitch, eager to see the run or error that turns the title.
For those who want a video reminder of their team's 2009 triumph/tragedy, New York Yankees: 2009 World Series Champions is a must-own. For all others, it's a chance to see why this once admired sport was considered the National Pastime.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Footage
* Major League Baseball
* New York Yankees
* Philadelphia Phillies