"And I don't believe what I just saw!"
If you're a fan of the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres or Anaheim Angels (aka the "Close to Riverside, not that far from San Diego, just a stone's throw away from" Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) then you have one thing in common: you hate those Dirty Dodgers.
San Diego: No championship.
San Francisco: No championship.
Anaheim: One title, courtesy the 2002 Giants' Dusty Baker.
L.A.: Five World Series titles.
The only reason Oakland doesn't spit and curse at the sight of Dodger Blue is because the A's have four World Series titles and split two World Series appearances against the Dodgers. They don't expend as much energy as the rest of us hating the Dodgers and their fans.
The fans don't have a pulse. They show up during the top of the third, only to leave during the seventh inning stretch. The rest of the state can't stand them or their city. Remember L.A. Story? THAT's why we hate L.A. The movie wasn't that far off base. A manic, smoggy, superficial place where people eat their young. It may not be the truth, but so what? Fair or not, Dodger fans are viewed as an extension of their city, a bunch of fair-weather, cell-phone addicted, rude people, who don't know how to work a scorecard or celebrate their players (at least not since Fernando Valenzuela). The only good thing I can say is that Dodger Dogs are delicious.
Amid all this hate, the rest of the California baseball community tends to forget that the Dodgers are the greatest West Coast baseball franchise, the New York Yankees of the National League. Sorry Atlanta. No NL team has the same combination of names, history of success, or number of memorable baseball moments. All the things that make this franchise great shines through on Dodger Blue: The Championship Years, an excellent, one-hour history DVD focused on the team's title years.
From Shout! Factory and Major League Baseball Productions, this show is a wonderful DVD for Dodger fans from all eras. From the 1955 World Series victory by the original Brooklyn Dodgers to the 2004 NL West clinching grand slam by outfielder Steve Finley, the DVD runs through the franchise's many highlights in a well-edited, interview-stuffed presentation. Starting with the rivalry between Brooklyn and the Yankees, we get stock footage of games from the era and interviews both new and old, from people still alive and those long dead. It's not just players and managers that we hear from. Baseball authors and game commentators make regular appearances. Only the best highlights are selected, and an amazing amount of information accompanies them.
Because of the amount of interviews and footage they had, the creators of this show run through the early World Series titles more quickly than the more modern ones, but all of them are entertaining. Charlie Steiner, a well-known sportscaster, is now working the Dodgers' booth with Rick Monday, and is a perfect fit for this DVD as the narrator. His scripted work meshes well with radio and TV commentary for game clips, on-field sounds, and interviews with players on the teams we're hearing about.
Dodger Blue: The Championship Years is a smart DVD, because it acknowledges the oh-so-close years, where the Dodgers lost in the playoffs and World Series. The DVD doesn't glance over the rough days the Brooklyn Dodgers had against those damn Yankees, the ill will that resulted from owner Walter O'Malley's move of the team to Los Angeles in 1958, the tragedies that befell some members of the organization. The good and bad are both given attention in this story.
The Dodgers have so many big moments in baseball lore, it's amazing they fit almost all of them in this DVD. 92,000 fans seeing the first World Series game in California at the Coliseum, Sandy Koufax's perfect game, Kirk Gibson's walk-off, limping pinch-hit home run off A's stud closer Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series. That's why Dodger Blue is easily watched by non-Dodger fans, because the baseball drama is undeniable.
Any story about the Dodgers of course begins in Brooklyn. Pee-Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Ray Campanella, all on the same squad. From them we move to L.A., where Koufax and Don Drysdale struck out everyone and their mother during the 1960's. The "greatest infield of all time," led by first baseman Steve Garvey, gets the most attention in the 1970's. And in the 1980's it's names like Orel Hershiser and Valenzuela that the Dodgers' faithful fondly revisit. The 1990's … well, remember those Atlanta Braves?
The Dodgers may not have won a World Series title since 1988, but they and their fans have a lot to be proud of, all of which is on this DVD.
The 4:3 fullscreen is a mixed bag, with a lot of the stock footage coming through very roughly. They cleaned up this DVD as best they could though, and modern interviews and highlights come through crisp and clear.
Smartly, this DVD includes both Spanish and English 5.1 surround sound options. L.A. has not only had some of the greatest Latino players of all-time, but can probably claim a higher Latino fan base than San Diego. Heck, the DVD even apologizes in the bonus features menu (Speeches in English only) for not laying down a track para el disco entero.
The 5.1 tracks use just a little music in the rear channels and not much else. There's little in terms of directionality in the audio tracks, mostly because you can only do so much with dialogue and background music.
Previews for other Shout Factory! titles lead off for the DVD, but a quick menu selection fixes that.
I was expecting a ton of interviews and cutting room floor stuff on this DVD. Sadly, the only special features here are three Hall of Fame speeches: Tommy Lasorda, Duke Snider and Don Drysdale. Dry and uninteresting stuff, with expected prolonged thanks and moments of old men choking up. Easily worth skipping by everyone but the most hardcore of Dodger fans.
Personal, Padres bias aside, I enjoyed this DVD. I ground my teeth more than once, but it's a well-managed story about a great franchise. Dodger fans will enjoy watching this DVD, assuming they don't turn the TV off and go to bed before it's over. For them Dodger Blue is Highly Recommended. For baseball fans in general, this DVD is Recommended.