The 2011 Major League Baseball season was full of highlights and lowlights, and for two teams in particular, the season was especially painful. The Atlanta Braves and the Boston Red Sox both held presumably commanding leads and inside tracks to postseason appearances in the playoffs, only to blow leads of eight and nine games in September to find themselves golfing at home and watching baseball on TV. The Braves' elimination might (and possibly should) be the more painful of the two, seeing as how the Red Sox (and Boston sports in general) have enjoyed a victory lap of unprecedented levels. Combined with the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup win, the Sox can take solace in their two World Series wins in the last seven years, especially with the help of Fall Classic at Fenway Park
The disc's premise is very simple: Major League Baseball does official films that highlight and celebrate each team's win in the Fall Classic, with the films usually being narrated by a famous fan. With the 2004 disc, Denis Leary (Rescue Me) got the nod, while Matt Damon (The Bourne Trilogy) handled voiceover for the 2007 installment. Each of the films follows the same style, with the first fifth or so of the feature looking at the regular season, with the rest covering the postseason and World Series games. The films themselves are fun and brief retrospectives on the Red Sox' triumphs, clocking in at 1:31:21 and 1:12:03 respectively for the 2004 and 2007 films. Featuring a mix of highlights and a mix of interviews with the key players in the series and on-field microphone episodes, it does suck you into the drama of watching the Sox play out each postseason, even if you know what happened. In fact, with both World Series ending in four-game sweeps ('04 over St. Louis, '07 over Colorado), the fact that the filmmakers were able to accomplish this suspense from anticlimax is commendable.
This isn't to say neither accomplishment was boring: the 2004 American League Championship Series has become downright legendary already in a short amount of time. The Yankees had taken a three games to zero series lead, culminating in a 19-8 curb stomping of the Sox at Fenway Park. The Sox, who didn't lower their heads in depression, rallied to win Game 4 6-4 behind an extra-innings home run from David Ortiz, and Ortiz returned to nearly duplicate his feat with a base hit in the fourteenth inning in Game 5. Game 6 brought us Curt Schilling and his heroic pitching performance on a bloody right ankle, willing the Sox to win 4-2, and in the decisive Game 7, Boston scored six runs in the first two innings, and the Yankees never had a chance afterwards, losing the game 10-3 and the Sox handing the tag of "chokers" over to the Yankees on their home turf. The road to the '07 Series was just as dramatic yet goes virtually ignored, largely due to the win over the Yankees. The Red Sox were down three games to one against Cleveland and steamrolled them in the next three games to win that Series, disposing over Colorado in relatively easy fashion.
Throughout the films, Leary and Damon's controlled enthusiasm for their home teams is commendable, though they do get a chance to toss in a moment of familiarity (and in Damon's case, a clip of high watching a game at Fenway during the '04 campaign). Moreover, the film footage itself is entertaining to revisit, if nothing else to see if any of the same fans who celebrated then are fretting now. Sox fans may be wondering what could have been if they limped into the 2011 playoffs, but the magic could not likely have been matched by what transpired in both '04 and '07, and Fall Classic helps the Boston baseball supporter relive that joy once again.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Both films are presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and use the AVC codec . I have seen parts of both films in high-definition on sports channels in the past and when looking at both now, I'm reminded of how solid they look. Flesh tones are accurate and the disc has several different types of media in it, including handheld cameras, original game broadcasts and interviews adeptly. Colors are reproduced naturally and the films both look good on Blu-ray, being faithful reproductions of the original material.
DTS-HD Master Audio two-channel lossless for both films. Honestly there isn't that much to be worked up over when watching either portion. The action sounds clear from the front of the soundstage and sounds clear without any channel panning or directional effects. Subwoofer engagement was flirted with though ultimately was fruitless. Both films juggle a variety of sound sources (TV and radio) rather easily and without issue, and the result is straightforward listening material.
Extra footage is available for both films, with the 2004 feature (24:20) having a bit less film than the 2007 version (37:20). Each include the same general highlights, such as the clinching of the American League division and League titles, and some key moments that were part of the run, along with celebration footage in the locker room following each Series win. A nice, albeit brief, complement to the disc.
I'm doubting the city of Boston is adding the 2011 collapse onto the mythology, considering their recent success in all of the major sports, but Fall Classic at Fenway Park is a nice consolation prize to help take the sting out of things. Technically the disc is fine and from an extras perspective is about as close to the same, and this should help warm the cockles of any Bosox fan during the coming winter months while a new team hoists the World Series trophy.