Along with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds (to name a few), the Detroit Tigers come to mind as one of the oldest running clubs in Major League Baseball. Despite weathering some tough times, they remain as one of the gateways to the past. Hall of Famers like Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg and Al Kaline, to name a few, have all worn the navy blue cap with the white gothic "D" for them through the years.
However, those names have since stopped playing ball decades ago, and the team has gone through prolonged stretches of failure. Which is why it's particularly pleasing to see the team experience a resurgence over the last several years under manager Jim Leyland, who took the Florida Marlins to their first World Series Championship (and before that, managed the Pittsburgh Pirate teams of the early '90s). The Tigers went to the World Series in 2006 before bowing out to the St. Louis Cardinals and have contended for the American League Central division title most every year since.
It is nice see the Tigers (and largely, the Phillies) experience more postseason appearances because it is another reminder of baseball's timelessness. The fact that Cobb, McClain and Horton can play the same game as Granderson, Verlander and Ordonez in a uniform that's fairly similar takes the nostalgia factor off the charts, similar to what it does for the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. And having the Tigers do well helps show us that baseball is not just an East Coast vocation; other teams can do it as well.
My anti-Yanks/Sox bias aside, having this set of 'Essential Games' as it's called by MLB Video must be a relief to Tiger fans. While only four games, 'essential' would qualify as an appropriate synonym. The list of games includes:
10/7/1968 - Down three games to one in a Best-of-Seven series with St. Louis in the World Series, the Tigers came from behind in this game to win 5-3 and eventually clinch their first World Series in more than 20 years.
10/14/1984 - The Tigers started the season on a record-breaking pace, winning 35 of their first 40, and beat the San Diego Padres 8-4 in Game 5 of the World Series for their fourth Series crown.
9/27/1999 - Tiger Stadium, where the team played for almost 90 years, received a fitting send-off as the Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals 8-2.
10/14/2006 - In Game Four of the American League Championship Series, Magglio Ordonez hit a Series-clinching home run in the bottom of the ninth to propel the Tigers to the World Series.
In the past, MLB video has taken to putting the box score on the DVD case, and they do that on the back of the cases here, with the front of the case framing the program from that particular game. It's a nice touch. Similar to other MLB videos, the games are housed in their own individual slim-line case in a sturdy cardboard case.
And the games are good, particularly the first one. The Tigers were as close to being cornered as they could. It took a rally in the seventh inning to propel them to victory, and which was the catalyst to their winning ways. The second and third discs are foregone conclusions in my mind; the last game at Tiger Stadium was a no-brainer, and the 1984 World Series was as done a deal as you could possibly make. Having the 2006 ALCS game is nice too, as not even being a Tigers fan, I enjoyed watching the last innings of that game on television.
All in all The Essential Games of the Detroit Tigers is just that, and with a solid selection of games without getting excessive and questionable, makes for the perfect complement to the Tigers fan in your life, regardless of age.
All four games are in full-frame video, and as you are likely familiar with language on MLB video productions, here's a reminder: "these historic programs contain technical imperfections that are inherent in the original recordings." The more recent games feature improved quality, but it's clear they're simply reducing old, taped games to disc, so no big deal.
All of the broadcasts are in two-channel Dolby stereo, with the 1984 series game including an alternate audio track from the Tigers broadcasting team, which included the legendary Ernie Harwell. Combined with Vin Scully on the main track, it is a baseball fan's dream, and the audio on all the games is free of mosquito noise, distortion or other issues and concerns.
More than an hour of additional footage highlighting Tiger player accomplishments through the years is included on Disc One. You've got individual player performances in a game (or season) shown in individual segments, including final outs in no-hitters, ALCS games and the like.
While the current baseball season is young, The Essential Games of the Detroit Tigers can be played by a Tigers fan to maintain the optimism that comes with each Opening Day, as they wonder how the team will do that year. Technically it's unspectacular though from a substance perspective has been streamlined a bit to the nitty gritty, so I hope MLB Video continues in this vein with future sets and additional teams.