In 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series it was something special for Boston fans. We of Red Sox Nation had something to cheer for because the curse of the Bambino had finally come to a close after 86 painstakingly long years. Our champions (or "idiots" as they had described themselves) had pulled off the impossible by taking down the Yankees after what seemed like unbeatable odds and then going on to defeat the Cardinals. Three years later Boston would celebrate yet another championship but was it as special as the one that broke the curse?
Between 2004 and 2007 the roster of the Red Sox had changed drastically and much of the team was swapped out. We lost Kevin Millar, Pedro Martinez, Trot Nixon, Johnny Damon, and Orlando Caberera. Theo Epstein also left and came back but during this shakeup the structure of the team had changed and the ball club suffered somewhat because of it. Something needed to change and the weakened bullpen (sure we had Schilling, but he's only one man) suddenly found itself inundated with talent. Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Jonathan Papelbon (the dancing fool), and Hideki Okajima helped round things out in a big way. When everything was pieced together for the 2007 season it was hard to deny that the Sox were a force to be reckoned with.
While the whole season speaks for itself you have to admit that the 96 and 66 record was pretty impressive. Well, if you're a Yankees fan then I suppose you won't ever admit that but that's beside the point. At any rate the season was very good overall but there were many questions raised through its course. Living just in the Boston area I think the biggest question on everyone's mind was, "Was Dice-K really worth $103 million?" Many fans still seem to be on the fence about that though I do have to say that his first season was decent by many regards. Sure he wasn't the legendary god on the mound that he was touted to be but we'll see how he does with more time pitching in America.
All of these things culminated in the play offs. Heading into the American League Division Series (ALDS) the Red Sox had to face off against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels didn't really provide much in the way of resistance for the Sox as the Bostonians rolled by them three games to none. Admittedly after watching the Cleveland Indians take the Yankees to task I wasn't too confident when it came time for the American League Championship Series.
As most faithful Boston fans do, I clung on to hope going into the series and was pleased when the Sox came out with a 10-3 win over the Indians in the first game. That confidence began to dwindle as our 1-0 lead in the series quickly plummeted to 3-1 in favor of the Indians. Going into the fifth game it was do or die for the Red Sox and with Josh Beckett on the mound for eight innings they gave it their all by pushing forward with a 7-1 victory. From that point a winning streak was set in place that would last right up through to the final moments of the World Series.
It is from Game 5 that A&E's Boston Red Sox 2007 World Series Collector's Edition DVD set takes over. Each game of the unprecedented winning streak is included here as it was broadcast on Fox during October. From the replays to commentary from the announcers, everything from the original airing has been nicely packaged into an eight disc collection sans commercials.
Appreciation of this material hinges solely on how passionate you are about baseball and whether or not you love the Red Sox. Maybe I'm approaching this review with a little bias but I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a proud member of Sox Nation. I watched each of these games as they aired and was eager to go back and revisit some of the highlights (of which there were many) when the opportunity presented itself.
Seven discs worth of games are included here with an eighth being full of bonus features (we'll get into that in a bit). Personally, I had very little interest in going back to watch every second of each game again considering I just saw them a couple of months ago on TV. Still, until the 2008 season gets started this collection will tide several fans over in the meantime. My only complaint is that due to the material it's not a complete picture of the Red Sox post season. We join in at a point where they won seven games in a row and complete missed highlights from games they lost or that simply came before Game 5.
2004's 12 disc behemoth felt somehow more thorough than this package and I can't help but feel that A&E could have included additional content. Why drop us in half way through a series? Give us the whole thing! Sure 2007's season wasn't as "magical" as the previous championship but it's important just the same. Missing out on Beckett's Game 1 performance against the Indians seems a shame and several highlights in between are lost in the shuffle because of this presentation. Despite that, I do have to admit that A&E and MLB came together for a fine package worthy of a home in any Red Sox fan's collection. It's not quite a grand slam in my opinion but it's certainly at least a two run homer.
Taken from the original broadcast the Boston Red Sox 2007 World Series Collector's Edition DVD set looks pretty darned good. This 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer was pulled from affiliate tapes and thanks to the quality there was no need to touch them up. The picture is crisp with little in the way of flaws apart from some very minor grain and interlacing that is slightly noticeable if you're looking for it. These games look every bit as fantastic as they did when they aired which says something about Fox's treatment.
Like previous DVD releases from the MLB the Boston Red Sox 2007 World Series Collector's Edition comes with a 2.0 stereo presentation. The image quality and audio hasn't lost anything in the process of moving from taped master to DVD. The sound is crystal clear and you'll hear everything as if you were there in most instances. There were no technical flaws with this release and to be quite honest a 5.1 surround track would have been overkill.
As I mentioned already the eighth disc is where you'll find the goodies aside from the game broadcasts. While I felt the actual content of the games themselves didn't give a glimpse at what transpired during the season there were fortunately a few moments highlighted on this disc.
Each of these bits clocks in at just about a couple minutes a piece and include four consecutive homeruns against the Yankees on 4/22, Youkilis' inside the park homerun on 5/13, Buchholz's amazing no-hitter on 9/1, and Ortiz's walk-off homer against Tampa Bay on 9/12. Other highlights offered here are the Orioles helping us clinch the AL East, a walk-off homerun by Manny in Game 2 of the ALDS, a replay of when the Sox clinched the ALDS, and the final 3 outs of the World Series coupled with some behind the scenes footage from the locker room celebration. Along those lines are the World Series Trophy presentation and MVP Trophy presentation. For this section there was actually a Play All feature clocking in at 34 minutes.
Some interview segments follow the clips and each covers a variety of topics. John Lester discusses his comeback from cancer and his World Series performance. Schilling chimes in on Mike Lowell, the pitching staff, the ALCS comeback, his Game 2 win, and the rookies of 2007. Lowell gets camera time talking about Beckett's dominance, Buchholz's no-hitter, the ALCS comeback, winning the World Series, and being the MVP. The "RemDawg" Jerry Remy voices his opinions about Terry Francona and Jason Varitek talks about the young players, Beckett, and winning the World Series (as well as what he did with the game ball). Francona discusses winning the AL East, their performance in the ALCS, J.D. Drew's grand slam, and his showing Ortiz some love after the last game was over. In good form Ortiz gets the last word during the Red Sox Rally in Boston.
Overall the bonus features on the final disc are worth checking out. They provide a more complete view at the team and feature some candid moments that weren't broadcast during the World Series.
Boston Red Sox 2007 World Series Collector's Edition is a release that most fans should look into. The games included here were great and it's nice from an archival standpoint to go back and watch them. There were several highlights that local sports casts missed and until the 2008 season starts this set will get Sox fans through another cold New England winter. The bonus features are quiet as good this time around in comparison with 2004's release but there's still enough supplemental stuff here to make for a fairly comprehensive World Series package. Strongly recommended.
Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!