Judge Gordon Sullivan drew on the DVD cover. He was Yankee doodling.
"The new palace has a new crown."
I've never really counted myself a fan of baseball, and the closest I got to the 2009 World Series was a short trip to Boston that encompassed the final game. The day after the Yankee's took home the trophy I was in a hotel shuttle with my girlfriend on the way to the T when the news came on the shuttle's radio. The newscasters cheerfully announced, "The Yankees won last night, clenching the team's twenty-seventh World Series title." The shuttle driver angrily flicked off the radio and muttered to no one in particular, "I don't wanna %$&in' hear about it." He then sheepishly looked back towards us and said, "I hope you guys aren't Yankee fans." We assured him we weren't and the rest of the ride was spent in silence. Now, thanks to New York Yankees 2009: Season of Pride, Tradition & Glory, I have a chance to relieve all those Yankee moments I missed during the team's remarkable season.
I won't rehash the Yankees' 2009 season, since that would either spoil the feature or preach to the Yankee choir, but suffice it to say that 2009 was an amazing season for the Yankees. They started out slowly, but eventually saw a number of record-breaking events on their way to a World Series win. New York Yankees 2009: Season of Pride, Tradition & Glory is an hour long look at the team's journey from the last game of the 2008 season (the first in a long time where the venerable club did not make it to the postseason) to their triumphant World Series win in their new stadium. The program is split roughly between highlight-reel style looks at significant games with commentary by John Sterling interspersed with talking-head interviews with players (including Derek Jeter and CC Sabathia) and manager Joe Girardi. Add in the occasional shot from a press conference or news report, and that's New York Yankees 2009.
Even though I'm not a fan of baseball, it's hard to deny that the 2009 Yankees were a remarkable team. 2008 didn't end well for them, and the off-season saw numerous players recovering from injury while new free agents were added into the mix. Despite the change in the lineup, the team went on to great success. Most obviously that can be seen in their World Series win, but the season was notable for other reasons. As this feature makes clear, a staggering 50 percent of the team's wins found them coming from behind, while over a quarter of the wins were achieved during the last at-bat. Not to mention they had and overall record of 103 wins to only 59 losses.
The film delivers this information in a tight hour which keeps the pace fast and the remarkable moments frequent. That's the program's strength: it quickly and cleanly hits the highlights of a remarkable season for a famous franchise. The deleted scenes show that it might have been a more intimate portrait of the team and its members. The film's quick pace is also its chief liability: fans of the team are likely to be familiar with most of the facts surrounding the 2009 series, so only the interviews will be new. The players are a fairly articulate bunch. I'm sure Yankee fans would gladly watch more footage of them, but since this release is probably more about collecting than it is learning about the team, this is a minor quibble.
As a DVD, this A&E release stands up. The video is solidly broadcast quality, with no compression or authoring problems to speak of. In fact I was impressed by just how green the grass in the new stadium is. The audio, which is mostly comprised of commentary and interviews, is serviceable. The extras go a long way towards addressing my concerns with the main feature. The extras include numerous bonus videos, including interviews with the players, extracts of sports news features, and some behind-the-bullpen style footage of some of the players.
New York Yankees 2009: Season of Pride, Tradition & Glory is a no-brainer for Yankee fans. Although it won't tell them anything new about their beloved franchise but it will help them remember a remarkable season in style. For everyone else, New York Yankees may be worth a rental simply because it shows how significant baseball can be in the lives of so many and how the players at the top of the game achieve.
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