After his gutty performance writing this review, Appellate Judge Dave Ryan's bloody sock was sent straight to the DVD Verdict Hall of Fame.
Jonathan Papelbon is the Lord of the Dance.
Back in 2004, when the Red Sox won their first World Series since World War I, Major League Baseball had just begun the process of exploiting their massive catalog of video assets in the DVD format, via a distribution deal with, of all networks, A&E Home Video. Their first major product was a Collector's Edition consisting of the epic American League Championship Series (a.k.a. the ALCS) with the arch-rival New York Yankees, and the largely anticlimactic World Series vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. The Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series: Collector's Edition was a massive 12-disc information dump with an equally massive $99.99 retail price tag. The content was top-notch, but the cost probably scared off a good number of buyers (even in the greater Boston area), even though that price is about the cost of a ticket to Fenway these days.
Fast-forward to 2007, and lo and behold, the Sox are World Champions again. (Who woulda thunk?) This time, instead of a 12-disc extravaganza, MLB and A&E are offering a slimmed-down 8-disc set, with the complete Boston-Colorado World Series, but only part of the Boston-Cleveland ALCS, and a lower price tag.
Facts of the Case
There's this game called baseball, and a select and elite group of grown men get paid a ton of money to play it. This is their story. Sort of. Well, it's the story of one select/elite group of grown men, and a small fragment of their seven-month season, and…Aw hell, it's the World Series. 'Nuff said.
The Boston Red Sox 2007 World Series: Collector's Edition delivers exactly what it promises: the complete World Series in its somewhat unexciting 4-game glory. However, unlike the 2004 edition, only three of the seven Indians-Red Sox ALCS games—specifically, the last three, beginning with Josh Beckett's dominating complete game win in Cleveland with the Sox down three games to one. As was the case in 2004, the Division Series (against the Angels again) is nowhere to be found, except for a clip of Manny Ramirez's walk-off game winning home run in ALDS Game 2 included in the extras package.
Truth be told, that's a lot of content, and the games are beautifully transferred. The original Fox network HDTV broadcasts have been downscaled into an anamorphic widescreen SD picture; the result is a fantastically bright and clear picture (especially by sport video standards), especially when you consider that these images must be substantially compressed in order to fit the games (they can run to almost 4 hours) fit on single DVDs. On a good widescreen TV, the image looks almost as good as HDTV itself. One slight nitpick: the audio is presented in Dolby Stereo 2.0, and I know darn well that these games were originally broadcast in Dolby Surround. I can only assume that it was necessary to go with the lower-quality audio as part of the get-it-on-one-disc effort. The stereo sound is actually pretty decent, truth be told, but it's a shame the full surround wasn't included/possible.
There's a thinner selection of extras this time around, too. The 2004 set included the full Official World Series Film from MLB, which was also available on its own as a separate DVD. This time, though, the Official Film is nowhere to be found. (It's still available separately.) A possible reason: this set is coming out much closer to the World Series than the 2004 set did; that set was released during the middle of the 2005 season. Perhaps the Official Film wasn't finished in time to be included. Or, more likely, maybe they didn't want to cannibalize sales of the Official Film DVD, which wasn't a problem in 2005. What is included is a set of short clips of highlights from the Red Sox 2007 season; e.g. Clay Buchholz's final out in his no-hitter, the four-consecutive-home-run game, and (as mentioned above) Manny's walk-off in the ALDS, as well as a number of interviews and clubhouse shots from the World Series win. Be warned, though—although there's an entire "Extras Disc" included here, there's only about 40 minutes (tops) of material on that disc. Additionally, the sound quality on the extras varies widely. Some of the clips have very tinny and compressed-sounding audio, which is kind of annoying.
Finally, the disc packaging is terrific in this set. Each disc comes in a plastic slipcase adorned with factoids and memorabilia photos on the front, an inning-by-inning game recap inside, and the full box score on the back. The bonus disc has complete World Series statistics for the Red Sox on the inside. It's all very cool and well-presented.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The decision to cut the first four games of the ALCS out of the package is the biggest issue I have with this set. Yes, I do understand why that decision was made—to cut the size of the package down and therefore reduce the cost. But these collector's sets aren't exactly mass-market products. I don't see anyone who isn't a Red Sox fan (or possibly a masochistic Rockies fan) ever wanting to purchase this set. So would Sox fans prefer to have all the ALCS games, not just the last three? This particular fan says yes: the last three games of the series only tell part of the story.
If these were the only games you watched, you'd be surprised that this series wasn't a four-game sweep for the Sox. In fact, the first four games of the series made the Indians look dominant, especially at home. Lacking that context, you miss a lot of the story here. The real story is how a team that looked terrible in those first two games in Cleveland—dispirited, outplayed, seemingly having no answers for the young and talented Indians—flipped a switch and turned into an unstoppable dynamo, steamrolling both the Tribe and the red-hot Rockies in a seven-game romp to the title. We just get the steamroller here; we don't get the portion where hope seemed lost. Imagine if the 2004 set had lacked the first three games of the ALCS. You wouldn't be able to see how dominant and unstoppable the Yankees seemed in those games, and the drama of the Game 4 and 5 victories would be lessened. That's the situation here, which diminishes both the Indians (we don't get to see how good they really were) and the Sox (we don't get to see what they had to overcome).
I'll use the words of another Boston-area coach to describe The Boston Red Sox 2007 World Series: Collector's Edition: it is what it is. Slightly flawed though it may be, it's still a valuable asset for fans of the Red Sox, and probably unwanted and worthless for anyone else.
Ball four—take your base.
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