After the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series, what made them a formidable bunch heading into 2009 was that they hadn't lost any real significant pieces to their puzzle. They still had strong hitting in Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, their pitching staff included Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge, and during the season, they upgraded it with the addition of coveted lefthander Cliff Lee. And they got to the Series in 2009 ready to defend their crown. However, compared to the relatively new Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Yankees were almost as old as the Phillies were from a franchise point of view, and have much more success in closing out a Series. Their trophy case has a trophy case, for pete's sake.
But legacy aside, the Yankees were a formidable bunch, perhaps the strongest in several years. And while the Phillies landed Lee during the season, the Yankees signed two of the big name pitching names in the 2008 offseason - C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett - along with prized hitter Mark Teixiera. They helped the Yankees ring in the first year at new Yankee Stadium in grand style, winning 103 games en route to the American League East pennant. They swept the Minnesota Twins in three games in the League Divisional Series and beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in six games before meeting Philadelphia.
In a sense, it was weird; the general lack of drama which accompanied the team in the postseason was a marked difference from the beginning of the season. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez spent the first six weeks of the season on the disabled list due to a hip injury, but he was also implicated by several sources as a steroid user. Rodriguez danced around the issue for days in March before finally admitting to it in a televised interview. In addition, former Yankee manager Joe Torre's book on his New York tenure chastised Rodriguez, General Manager Brian Cashman and owner George Steinbrenner, to name the few. But the Yankees were used to clubhouse soap opera. Honestly they seemed to thrive on it.
And why not? Teixiera came into New York and impressed, leading the team in home runs (39) and runs batted in (122) his first year there. Rodriguez, who missed 40 games during the season, was second in both categories, with 30 and 100, respectively. But the new guys complimented the established players, namely Derek Jeter's .334 batting average (followed by Robinson Cano's .320). Sabathia led the pitchers with 19 wins, led the starters with a 3.37 earned run average and 197 strikeouts (Burnett had 195). Veteran Andy Pettitte, whose association with embattled alleged steroid user Roger Clemens and possible own steroid usage tarnished his name (but subsequent admissions salvaged it), but his 14-8 record was solid for the rotation. Speaking of veterans, Mariano Rivera added 44 more saves to a certain Hall of Fame career as a reliever.
Coming into the Series though, the Phillies' experience in the Series seemed to reign; they won Game One rather convincingly 6-1, thanks to a dominant performance from Lee. The Yankees got Game Two back 3-1, as Burnett out dueled Philly's Pedro Martinez, who was notable for his performances as a member of the Boston Red Sox teams of 2003 and 2004 in the Bronx Zoo. Game Three went to Philadelphia and saw the Yankees outslug the Phillies four home runs to three, and 8-5 being the score. In Game Four, the two teams were tied at 4, until the Yankees scored three in the ninth inning to win 7-4 and take a commanding three games to one lead in the best of seven series. While Philly won Game Five 8-6 behind two Chase Utley homers (giving him five for the series), the series came back to New York, where the Yankees started strong, scoring four runs in the second and third innings, and held firm for the 7-3 win and another World Series trophy.
While the Yankees 27th World Series trophy is commendable and awe-inspiring, the catchy headlines capturing the moment of the Yankees' win just didn't do the trick. Frankly, so many newspapers, websites and periodicals were using a "27th Heaven" headline that seemed both lazy and uninspired. Not for nothing sports media, but if you can't come up with new and clever ways to mark every occasion that they rewrite history, you've got to get out of the business, or let these multi-disc sets speak for themselves.
The games are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, consistent with their original broadcasts. The games are straightforward representations to video; even the in-game advertisements are included. The Yankee blue and Phillies red are reproduced accurately and a little more vivid than I was expecting; no noise issues can be easily detected in the picture. A worthy video document for the 2009 Series.
Two-channel Dolby stereo gets a variety of options similar to the 2008 World Series set. You get a choice of the Fox broadcast, the Spanish play-by-play team (which includes Hall of Famer Juan Marichal), the Yankees radio team of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, and the Phillies radio team with Karry Andersen and Gary Matthews Sr., to name a few. The action is up in the front channels and sound is localized without being isolated. As far as sporting events go, it's straightforward and without complaint.
As is the case with previous sets, all of the series games (and the ALCS clinching win over the Angels) are in slim line cases with packaging that includes box scores, game action and trivia for each game, or the Series in general. The actual bonus disc is the eighth, and includes a group of additional footage, broken into three different sections. The "Milestones" section (29:33) includes moments like Rivera's 500th career save, Jeter's breaking Lou Gehrig's record for most career hits as a Yankee, along with the team's clinching of the AL East. "Walkoff Winners" (17:28) are just that, game-winning homers and hits from Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui, to name a few. The "Postseason" section (17:31) includes highlights from the ALDS and ALCS not included on the set. Compared to previous World Series sets, this one feels a little on the light side.
The 2009 World Series Collector's Edition Set is a nice addition for any Yankee fan who wants to pay a premium for fancy packaging and a little bit of additional footage, but savvier Yankee fans have probably burned the high definition broadcasts from DVR onto Blu-ray anyway, right? Buy this thing if you are the textbook definition of completist.