August 21, 2008

DVD Review: Essential Games Of Fenway Park

Billed as the "Essential Games of Fenway Park", the six games included in this collection were determined from fan balloting last October. The games proposed for inclusion are listed here. Only people who purchased MLB's Red Sox Nation membership cards were allowed to vote.

Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912, but there is almost nothing in this set from before 1967. The obvious limitations of available video mean we don't get footage of the Joe Wood/Walter Johnson showdown from September 6, 1912 (though it's highlighted in one of the extra segments -- The Origins of Fenway Park), the clinching game of the 1918 World Series or the Red Sox's 29-4 rout of the Browns on June 8, 1950, but even so, the six games in this set are a huge disappointment.

Two of the games are available elsewhere and three of the remaining four are highly debatable choices:

September 30, 1967 - Carl Yastrzemski leads the Red Sox to a 6-4 win over the Twins in the next-to-last game of the Impossible Dream season. Boston clinched the pennant the following day. This complete game can also be found on NESN's "Impossible To Forget" DVD.

October 21, 1975; WS 6 - Carlton Fisk's 12th inning home run beats the Reds 7-6 and forces a Game 7. This game is part of the 1975 World Series box set, also produced by MLB/A&E.

April 29, 1986 - Roger Clemens strikes out 20 Mariners and Boston wins 3-1 before a small crowd of 13,414. Excellent choice!

July 13, 1999; All-Star Game - Pedro Martinez strikes out five batters in two innings. The title of the set is "Fenway Park Games" and not "Red Sox Games", but I still don't think this one belongs. The extras include Ted Williams throwing out the first pitch.

October 16, 1999; ALCS 3 - "Where Is Roger? In The Shower!" There was plenty of hype for this Pedro/Clemens showdown, but Clemens was pulled one batter into the third inning and the Red Sox won easily 13-1. It was Boston's only win in the five-game series. A questionable choice.

April 22, 2007 - The Red Sox hit four straight home runs against the Yankees. This half-inning is the very definition of "bonus footage". Indeed, it can be found as an extra on the 2007 World Series box set. It does not belong here.

The extras include (copied from the DVD box, errors and all):
Ted Williams: Fenway's Hometown Hero
Vintage Clips:
Yaz 1968 World Series Highlights at Fenway
Yaz 400th HR and 3,000th hit
Red Sox Clinch 1986 ALCS in Fenway
Brunansky's amazing catch clinches 1990 AL East Crown
Last inning of Derek Lowe's No-Hitter (4/27/02)
Red Sox score 10 runs before making their first out (6/27/03)
Bill Mueller walk-off HR vs. Mariano Rivera (7/24/04)
Dave Roberts: "The Steal" 2004 ALCS Game 4
Big Papi's 2004 Postseason Walk-off Hits
Last inning of Clay Buchholz's No-Hitter (9/1/07)
A few notes on the extras (some of which, like Buchholz's last inning, are available elsewhere):

The entire first inning of the June 27, 2003 game is not included. Only the first 11 batters are shown (with the radio broadcast audio), since the 12th hitter made an out. Thus, we don't get to watch the final eight Red Sox hitters of that historic inning. Johnny Damon became the first player to ever hit a single, double, and triple in the same inning, but his single (as the inning's 19th batter) is not shown.

Dave Roberts's steal is shown, but not the single that scored him. Also, only the final pitch (ball 4) to Kevin Millar is included.

Of David Ortiz's three game-winning hits in the 2004 post-season, only his ALDS-winning home run is shown in its entirety -- because he hit his bomb on the first pitch. Only the final two pitches of his four-pitch at-bat to end ALCS 4 are shown and we get only the final pitch of the epic 10-pitch at-bat that ended ALCS 5.

I can't believe there was not enough room on the DVD to show these entire innings and at-bats. It feels like they were copied in a hurry and haphazardly slapped together.

The metal case is sturdy, but when you open it up, all you see inside are six red discs. There is no booklet, no box scores of the games, no pictures, no information about these games at all except the dull one-sentence descriptions on the back of the case. In fact, I have given you more information on the games (such as the final scores) in this post.

A set of essential Fenway Park games is obviously a great idea -- and if it was reconfigured to be "essential Red Sox games", we could relive Pedro's 17 K, one-hit masterpiece in Yankee Stadium from September 1999 -- but this collection is decidedly unessential. MLB, despite all of its resources, has failed baseball fans yet again.

I cannot recommend anyone spending $50-60 for this, but if you are a completest and find it laying in a cut-out bin, grab it.

[Note: A&E sent me two free copies of this 6-DVD set. I'll be giving one away as part of the Yankee Elimination Day contest (details on Monday).]


Jere said...

The Red Sox have amazingly come back from a 3-0 deficit and two different 3-1 deficits in ALCSs. All of those included at least one great game. How are none of those there?

I think these games may have been voted on by fans when they were putting this together. It's like when you see a top 100 videos of all-time countdown or something--they're always littered with that year's hits as they're fresh in everyone's minds. The four dongs in a row--an incredible moment that I was proud to have seen live. Does it mean the other 8+ innings were even good? No. There were better Yankee-Red Sox games that season, even.

redsock said...

How are none of those there?

But all of those games (4 from 2004 and 3 from 2007) are available elsewhere, so if you had either of those boxes, then having them here would be wasting space.

Duplicating the 1967 game that is the bonus disc on NESN's set is amazingly stupid. Did MLB give this set more than 15 minutes thought?

The full list of choices seems pretty weak. I'd like to know if MLB has any full innings or near-complete games from the late 70s. I'd love to see those guys again. Having the entire game on video should not have been necessary for inclusion.

Something that could have been a ton of fun to watch ended up causing a mere shrug of the shoulders.

Betcha can't wait to enter the contest now, huh!!!

Jere said...

You're right, it should be just essential Red Sox games, not Fenway. Then '86 ALCS game 5 would be there.

Tony said...

One has to wonder how much was determined by available footage - you would think, for example, the final game of the Impossible Dream season would be more meaningful than the next-to-last, even without any Yaz heroics. Just as an example of another league's problems with video, Pete Maravich had (I think) a 68-point game that is in just terrible shape video-wise. And David Thompson had a similarly incredible game that wasn't even taped.

All the same, the choices are rather odd; you'd think the so-called "Red Sox Nation" would have better taste than that. What the hell, even a regular-season 1975 game would be a better choice than some of the ones on here. What about the Tek's mitt in A-Rod's face/Mueller walkoff dinger game? You don't think reliving a classic from The Best Season Ever would be better than the one game the Sox won in the shitty ass 99 ALCS?

I'm still entering the contest, because free swag is free swag. :D Still, if I win, this one isn't getting HALF the usage my 04 and 07 box sets get.

redsock said...

I'm still entering the contest, because free swag is free swag. :D

Yes. Free is always worth it.

Case in point: I was visiting my friend Ray in VT a couple of years ago. He had a DVD called "Reversing The Curse: Stories of Faith from the 2004 Season". It was produced by Athletes in Action and featured: Mueller, Nixon, Roberts, Schilling, Timlin, Varitek and Wakefield.

He had not seen it, so we grabbed some beers and popped it in. Why not?

Turns out the "faith" part was religious, not baseball faith. Ray ejected the disc and asked me if I wanted it. Now I need religion like I need to hear Michael Kay reading Derek Jeter's life story on Books on Tape, but I grabbed the DVD right away.

I have never played it but it was 2004-related and free, so ...

L-girl said...

Turns out the "faith" part was religious, not baseball faith. Ray ejected the disc and asked me if I wanted it. Now I need religion like I need to hear Michael Kay reading Derek Jeter's life story on Books on Tape, but I grabbed the DVD right away.

I have never played it but it was 2004-related and free, so ...

I don't get this. Free crap is still crap.

L-girl said...

Which is not to say everyone shouldn't enter the contest. As Allan says, Everybody Loves A Contest.

tim said...

It should be able to fetch a couple dollars on eBay or Amazon.

SoSock said...

Now the Sep. '99 game at the Toilet is something I would love to see made available, because.....
(My 1st ever live Red Sox game and it was THAT one)

James said...

I had that Reversing The Curse: Stories of Faith from 2004! Some people were handing them out for free outside of the Hynes Convention Center!

The strangest thing was that Matt Clement was in it. What the fuck of interest could Matt Clement possibly have to say about the 2004 World Seires? The whole thing was clearly shot in a day or two during Spring training.

Liam, Summa Contra said...

The Mets have a similar collection, with the best games from Shea Stadium's history. While it is a better collection that the Fenway set, they don't have any of Dwight Gooden's games from the '85 season or anything from the '73 "You Gotta Believe!" team.

Too bad there's no collection about great Red Sox players. I'd love a highlight disc of Pedro in his prime with the one-hitter he threw at the Stadium. There's an idea for a collection: Greatest Games in Yankee Stadium History (For The Red Sox Fan).