Judge Eric Profancik thinks that Cleveland fans should upgrade their motto from "Next Year" to "Next New Stadium."
It's been a long time.
It's hard to grow up in Cleveland. You love your professional sports teams, but they make it hard for you to love them. In my lifetime, the Cavaliers have never won the Championship; the Browns have never been to the Super Bowl; and the Indians haven't won the World Series. It's been a really long time since the Tribe did win it: 1948. Almost sixty long, grueling years since our boys brought home the trophy. But what's a native Clevelander and lifelong fan supposed to do? We do what we always do: we say "next year." That's our motto, and that hope is what keeps us going.
Sixty years. How unbelievable is it that one has to go back to 1948 for the last time the Indians won the World Series? That torture is all the worse because of what happened in 1995 and especially so in 1997. While the '95 Series against the Atlanta Braves is a big blank in my mind, no Cleveland fan can ever forget the horrible, incredibly painful debacle of the '97 Series. The Indians, going into the bottom on the ninth with a one-run lead, send steadfast closer José Mesa to the mound. He promptly gives up the tying run. In the tenth, Cleveland misses a golden opportunity to score, and the Florida Marlins win it all in the eleventh.
Sheer, unimaginable pain for a Cleveland fan…and the streak continues today.
So let's turn back the clock those sixty years and revisit the 1948 World Series with this DVD, MLB Vintage World Series Films: Cleveland Indians 1948. It's a Series I've always known about but never learned the specifics. (My fandom ends at fan, not continuing to fanatic.) What would this official DVD from Major League Baseball present from this game from yesteryear? Simply, it's a visual box score of each game. It quickly (about 5 minutes per game) details the hits, runs, and pivotal plays of the game using film from that era. You get to see the players do their thing and that's it.
To say that's disappointing would be as brief as the feature, a mere 39 minutes. While it was cool to have a chance to see these key moments from the Series, why wasn't more done? Why wasn't more detail offered, giving us team info, stats, game theory, and other insightful facts and commentary? Where's the analysis of the games? Who did what right, and who did what wrong? What mistakes did the Boston Braves make? What about some background on the players? In today's world of 24-hour ESPN coverage, a more thorough examination of the games was needed. It's too simple, too superficial, and too incomplete, adding up to a waste of an idea.
With such a whopping running time, the DVD has plenty of empty space on it. To fill a sliver of it, "Wahoo! What a Finish" was included. This fifty-four minute piece highlights the twelve most memorable Tribe finishes from the 1995 season. And I must admit that I found this bonus item far more entertaining. The primary reason for this is that this is my team. I know these players, and I still remember them. Unlike the 2007 Indians where I can't name a single player, I can rattle off many guys from the resurgent Nineties. And seeing them again—Baerga, Thome, Kirby, Sorrento, Alomar, Lofton, Vizquel, Belle, Ramirez, Murray, and even coach Hargrove—was a pleasure. It reminded me of the better days, days where we almost, but not quite, won that coveted World Series. It certainly didn't hurt that there was some commentary, a bit of setup to each play, interviews with the players, and a little overall discussion instead of simply showing the clip.
Yet while there's plenty to bash about the main feature, I'd be remiss to not point out the few positives. First, as noted earlier, it was great to see what happened, to finally have a chance to see the Tribe win it all. Second, as an apprentice fan, I learned quite a few things about that game and that time—with special surprise coming to the field design of Cleveland Municipal Stadium, one year after its opening. (And that is an interesting corollary in and of itself: Municipal Stadium opens in '47 and the Tribe wins the Series in '48. Jacobs Fields opens in '94 and the Tribe goes to the Series in '95. Maybe if we build another stadium…) Also, watching the fans dressed up in hats, ties, and coats, cheering the team on was a clear reminder of how times have changed.
This is a vintage DVD and the transfers are definitely vintage, which warrants an official "warning" at the beginning of the piece. The full-frame, black and white transfer is riddled with all manner of dirt, cracks, and streaks, and the black and white is a touch on the sepia side. You have to expect this, and it doesn't distract from the viewing; it actually is a quaint reminder that you're watching footage many decades back. What is quite annoying is the ever-present, transparent MLB logo in the top right corner. On the audio side, while everything is understandable, there's a constant crackle in the background, reminding me of the sound an old-style film projector.
The DVD is a disappointment. A great opportunity to do some analysis on a classic Series is jettisoned for a simple play by play of the games. The makers of this one missed the mark, and I cannot recommend this disc for purchase or rental. It's too simple for even the most casual fan.
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