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Yankee Stadium—Two words that evoke millions of sparkling memories.
A&E and the forces of Major League Baseball have been going through their presumably extensive catalog of televised, archived baseball games and have been releasing them as team sets over the last couple of years now. With the Essential Games of Yankee Stadium, you've got the third such release related to a team's "greatest hits" at their home field, with the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets being the other two. From what I understand, the concept behind these collections is that fans get to vote what games should be included on the set for release, and six games are put together in a nice slimline steelbook packaging for the collection. I've seen both of the earlier versions of these sets (for convenience, my reviews on them for you fine Verdict readers are in the "Accomplices" section), and my common complaint for both of those sets is the redundancy from other sets that had been released. And sure enough, nobody's been listening to these complaints, because when you look at the material, a lot of it looks very familiar.
Looking at the six games that were "picked" for inclusion, I'll tackle the duplicate games first. Disc two's game is Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, where Reggie Jackson homered three times en route to clinching another title for the Yanks against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Disc five's game is Game 4 of the 2001 World Series, where Tino Martinez hit a ninth inning home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks to tie the game, and Derek Jeter hit a homer in the next inning to win it. This game is available not only on the Fall Classic Collector's Edition (FCCE) of the Yankees, but the Diamondbacks' World Series Collection as well. Disc four presents Game 6 of the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves when they clinched at Yankee Stadium. At first I typed Game 4, because Game 4 of this series is on the FCCE, along with the World Series film from that year, so it feels like I already know this game intimately. The other games are with Disc One, where the 1976 American League Championship series Game 5 is shown, where Chris Chambliss hit a home run to send the Yankees to the World Series that year. Disc three focuses on Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series (you know them as the post-wild card years maybe) where the Yanks won an extra-innings thriller against Seattle. The last disc on the set is Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, when Aaron "F-ing" Boone hit an extra-innings homer that, at least for now, remains the last known piece of the Boston Red Sox postseason disappointment.
The extras seem to be repeats as well, some from the sets mentioned earlier but also with the Shout! Factory documentary Yankee Stadium: Baseball's Cathedral. Bobby Murcer's performance hours after burying teammate Thurman Munson is covered, the heroics in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series with Brosius and Soriano, and while Game 5 of the 2000 World Series against crosstown rivals the New York Mets is on the FCCE, the anticipation and buildup for Game 1 is shown. To A&E's credit, there are some newer highlights that I hadn't seen before, including pitcher Ron Guidry's 18-strikeout performance in 1978, Derek Jeter's dive into the stands in a 2004 regular season game, and other various postseason exploits.
While The Essential Games of Yankee Stadium is a pretty cool name for a six-disc collection, much of the material on here is repeated from earlier sets. Never mind that when we're talking about Yankee Stadium—the spectrum of material to choose from is so huge—limiting one's self to games and moments since 1976 is a little bit unfair or even short sighted. If you're a hardcore Yankee fan, I'd honestly suggest passing on this, because of so much duplication and familiarity, but if you're a newfound Yankee fan who hasn't bought any of the sets, then this might be a good jumping off point for you.
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