In 10 Words or Less
Looking back at the 2009 World Champions' season
Loves: The Yankees
Likes: Sports highlights
Dislikes: Baseball's glacial pace, The Mets
Hates: The Red Sox, John Sterling's home-run calls
It's hard to get romantic when talking about a team as corporate as the Yankees, with a payroll larger than many countries, but its hard to deny that the season the Yankees experienced in 2009 was as close to "magical" as it gets. Sure, a lot of it is thanks to the amount of money spent on players, but when you add in the achievements of some of the lesser-known guys and home-grown superstars, the need to dig deep and gut out wins and a supreme sense of timing, and you have the script for a memorable year that even the most cynical Red Sox fan had to admit was impressive.
The special, created by the fine people at the Yankees-owned YES network, is part of the "Yankeeography" series, which immortalizes the players and moments of Yankees history. Considering the team's successes, they've had plenty of practice in praising greatness, and this is just another brick in the wall in that respect. It's not going to dig too deep, but it will certainly not miss a chance to raise a man in pinstripes upon a pedestal, starting things off with the disappointing 2008 season, which closed out Yankee Stadium without a much-expected and seemingly inevitable playoff series. That set the stage for changes before the 2009 season.
This special documents the off-season moves, including the team's new home (the refreshingly sponsor-free (new) Yankee Stadium) and a trio of big-name, big-budget free agents, and the in-season results, via file footage, game clips and talking head interviews with manager Joe Girardi, the players, owners and members of the media. The season is recounted month by month, ending each segment with the standings, telling the players' stories as they go, via their on-field accomplishments, of which there were many. There are many strong personalities (including newcomers Nick Swisher and A.J. Burnett) at play in the locker room, and that creates a storyline of a team coming together through early-season struggles and growing success. As you watch long-time Yankees like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera reach career heights, new hires Mark Teixiera and C.C. Sabathia pay-off on the Yankees' investment, and see theatrical wins and comebacks, all wrapped in the environment of the team's new home.
For a Yankees fan, which I am, it's fun to look back on this season, especially considering how it ended, but the YES propaganda machine has two main weaknesses in this presentation. The first, is the glossing over of Alex Rodriguez' off-field issues, including his marital problems and allegations of performance-enhancing drug use. Sure, it was impressive that he hit a home run on the first pitch he faced following time off from a surgery, and his success in smashing his reputation as a post-season underachiever is admirable, but when you tag them onto his off-season problems, it's high drama, the likes of which you don't see outside of the cinema. Unfortunately, it's missing here. What there's plenty of though, is John Sterling, the radio play-by-play announcer for the Yankees. In addition to his narration on this special, which is fine, there are plenty of replays of his home-run calls, which are routinely the punniest, most aggravating calls in all of sports broadcasting. A few examples, for those who don't know him, include the calls for Teixiera ("a Tex message") and Melky Cabrera ("the Melk Man delivers".) Perhaps it's not as bad for those new to his method of putting himself ahead of the moment, but for those who have heard "a back to back and a belly to belly" more than, oh, once, it actually becomes painful to hear. And you hear it often.
A one-disc release, packed in a standard keepcase, this DVD features an attractive, animated anamorphic-widescreen menu offering options to play the special, select chapters, check out extras and adjust languages. The special can be heard in Spanish, but there are no subtitles and no closed captioning.
The anamorphic widescreentransfer looks terrific, offering up bright, vivid color and a healthy level of fine detail, though the disc culls its footage from a variety of sources, resulting in an uneven level of clarity and a mix of video and film stock. Even at its "worst" though, it looks really nice. There are no obvious digital artifacts throughout, and no dirt or damage can be found.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack here is your standard television presentation, balancing the presentation between the two channels, without anything dynamic about the mix. It's a fine delivery, with solid dialogue, but there's nothing special about it.
There's a nice helping of bonus footage included on this disc, with 17 clips that run almost 48 minutes in length (though two are repeats, presented in Spanish.) Most of them are replays of some of the bigger moments of the season, including Rodriguez' first home run of the season, Jeter's record-setting hit and the moment when the AL East title was clinched. Also included is a fast-paced season overview montage, a far-too-brief tour of the new stadium, a couple of feel-good charity stories and off-field pieces on Swisher and Sabathia. Longer versions of some of these would have been appreciated, but the additional clips are nice anyway.
- Rodriguez's 1st At-Bat
- Brett Gardner's Inside-the-Park Home Run
- Cabrera's Walk-Off Single (also in Spanish)
- Cabrera Hits for the Cycle
- Jeter sets Yankees Hit Record
- Yankees Clinch AL East
- Rodriguez hits Two Home Runs in One Inning
- Season Recap
- HOPE Week: Camp Sundown
- HOPE Week: Mail Room
- Rodriguez Interview
- Swisher Road Trip
- Yankee Stadium Tour
- At Home with Sabathia
The Bottom Line
Considering how overly long a baseball season is, it's easy to forget even memorable moments, as there are tons of moments overall, especially in a season like the Yankees' 2009 campaign. This look-back is well-constructed, if overly fawning, and obviously aimed straight at fans of the most successful team in American sports. The disc looks great and sounds fine, and offers up enough bonus material to make the disc worth picking up if you're a fan of the Bronx Bombers, or just want to revisit a season of destiny.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.