"You're too pretty. You can't throw that hard."
MLB Superstars Show You Their Game, a 47-minute long This Week in Baseball episode that few people will ever buy on DVD, would probably sell more copies if it was called Jennie Finch Shows You Her Legs.
That's the big selling point here, not any lessons you'll learn from the dozen major leaguers she hangs with. The Olympic gold medalist, softball champion, and smoking-hot blond plays one-time host of the Major League Baseball show, visiting training camps and All Star games, interviewing players, wearing short-shorts and standing idly by while everyone is thinking the same thing: Is she single?
No one can deny Finch is a superior athlete, with nasty pitches and a winner's mentality. You don't win gold and an NCAA title without being talented. But MLB Superstars Show You Their Game isn't what it purports to be. It only starts as a series of lessons that would-be ballplayers can learn from, with interesting insights into the mentality of baseball's best. Twenty minutes in, it devolves into the Jennie Finch "look at me!" show, with every player fawning over her, and her either suffering it or enjoying the attention.
It seems like Senior Writer Jeff Scott and Producers David Check and David Gavant couldn't make up their minds. Should they take this headliner of women's softball and treat her with respect, have her ask in-depth fundamental baseball questions of the game's best, and then show highlights of the fundamentals in action? Or should they throw her to the wolves, let the guys flirt with her and talk about how oh-so-pretty she is? In the end, they split the difference, producing a mess of a show that mostly sees Finch treated like a sorority girl first, ballplayer second.
The first third of the show is good, insightful baseball. Guys like Ivan Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, and Jimmy Rollins offer some good tips on how they're successful in the big leagues. Steve Finley shows us good work out tips and Ben Sheets tells us how he picks guys off of first. But then MLB Superstars Show You Their Game devolves into a silly, follow the bouncing blond documentary, as Finch becomes the focal point at the training camps and All Star game, with most every compliment about her pitching ability paired with a remark about how damn hot she is. "She's very talented … and pretty!" "She can sure pitch. And she's cute!" The makers of this DVD probably banked that the players wouldn't be able to get around the shapely figure or long, exposed legs. They must have thought it would make this DVD more appealing, and it would be if that was the idea all the way through. Instead, it's half prancing cutie, half hitting stance lessons. Bad mix.
The highlight on this DVD is Finch striking out some of the best hitters in the game with her rising fastball and Trevor Hoffman-worthy change-up. Giants slugger (and accused steroid user) Barry Bonds talks all sorts of trash to Finch during the All Star game, and when his time to face her finally comes on a practice field, his mouth moves more than his bat. The players are rightly humbled, but still don't change their attitude toward her. She can pitch, but she's still in short-shorts.
Shout Factory and MLB Productions do a few things well here: when players are showing "their game," highlight stats scroll across the bottom. Sound editing is top notch, with music, game announcers during highlights, and interviews coming through clearly and mixing well. There are some great career highlights for the players, and it was nice to see them grab guys like the retired Tony Gwynn for some lessons. But this is still a DVD that's more female eye candy than worthwhile baseball information.
The video is fine, with the widescreen format coming through crisp and clear. Most of the stock footage is cleaned up well, with little in the way of dust or scratches.
Simple 2.0 English is all that's here. No problems with improper noise, fuzz or drop outs. Nothing special, nothing wrong with the audio on this DVD.
Extras include career highlight reels of the stars featured in the show, and some are more exciting then others. Sheets striking out 18 batters? Each of Bonds hundred mark home runs? Very cool. Mike Sweeney hitting a seeing-eye single to win a regular season game for perennial loser Kansas City? Yawn. Also included is a commercial of Finch selling a windmill softball device, which is about as useless an extra as DVD credits.
The menus are sharp, highlight reels of certain players, with dramatic music. But that's not what this DVD is about, damnit. Finch pitching to MLB players should be what we're looking at. In slow-mo. Preferably wet, in a bathing suit. If the producers of The Man Show were at work here, they would have had her slinging while jumping on a trampoline, maybe with a beer instead of a glove. It would have been more honest.
The most useful thing in terms of baseball know-how here is the DVD insert with tips from each of the players featured. Other than that, you've got a homage to Finch and a few interesting moments with a few baseball All Stars. This DVD rates only a Rent It rating, barely that, and mostly because Finch is fun to look at. There are a dozen other "learn the game of baseball" DVDs out there that do a better job than MLB Superstars Show You Their Game. Go find something with Gwynn's name on it.