When I revisited the 2011 World Series earlier in the year, I really enjoyed how the series' momentum between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals swung back and forth many times through the course of the series, and that Game 6 "was the most tension-filled and perhaps one of the best in recent Series memory." And to presumably further the case of this, A&E (in participation with Major League Baseball video) has released the pivotal game as a standalone title on Blu-ray. So is it better the second, third (or more) time around?
With the Rangers taking the last two of three games in Texas to go up three games to two in the best of seven series, things were tense for Cardinals fans, all the more so when Texas scored a run with the first three batters of the game. The Cards rallied back in the first and took the lead on a two-run home run by outfielder Lance Berkman in the bottom of the first, but Texas tied the game in the second on a double from second baseman Ian Kinsler. The teams exchanged runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, until the seventh when Texas scored three in the top of the seventh, in part due to consecutive home runs by third baseman Adrian Beltre and outfielder Nelson Cruz. Outfielder Allen Craig hit a home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, but going into the bottom of the ninth and the Cards down 7-5, things were looking dour.
Turns out that's when things got interesting. With one out, Cards first baseman Albert Pujols doubled and Lance Berkman walked. With two runners on, Craig struck out, setting the stage for third baseman David Freese hit a triple to right field over the head of Cruz and tying the game up and sending it to extra innings. A two-run home run from Rangers All-Star Josh Hamilton (who finished the game with three hits and three runs batted in) put the Cards on the back foot again. They responded, putting men on the bases and driving one in on a ground out, and Berkman tied the game on a base hit. After the Rangers were shut out, Freese returned and lead off the bottom of the 11th with a home run to win the game for the Cards, who would win the 7th game less than 24 hours later.
While admittedly I am not as much of a baseball fan over the last few years (for favor of other sports that have occupied my mind grapes), Game 6 of Rangers-Cardinals had a lot of jabs and counterpunches that reminded me of a heavyweight prizefight, culminating in a slugfest to close out the bout that help people remember the battle. There were some moments of sloppiness (five errors between both teams? Yeesh!), but as the stakes slowly ratcheted up, that's when the players for both clubs upped their efforts, and people who may not have found themselves as fans before or in a long time understand why people still view baseball as a pastime that goes beyond the mere limitations of what happened on the field and shows us a flashpoint in time. "Do you remember where you were when Freese homered?"
With all of that said, I am left wondering what justification there was to release Game 6 on its own barely months after releasing the entire series on video. Did someone willingly decide to crap on a still-fresh release? Were the costs to release the entire series on Blu-ray too prohibitive and not worth it, thus the decision to release Game 6? Don't get me wrong, Game 6 is great and one of the better, more suspense-filled games that comes to my mind since Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and even tops it. The merits of the game are great, the merits of having the game on video (on Blu-ray AND standard definition on separate discs, by the way). The merits of having to shell out some more money to see another copy of it exist remain a little murky.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Both the Blu-ray and standard definition discs are presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, with the Blu-ray using the AVC encode to replicate the high-definition broadcast airing of the game. I will focus on the Blu-ray for the technical scores, as the standard definition disc is the same thing as the one on the World Series set I reviewed, just under a new label. Image details are discernible and colors are conveyed accurately without image noise, and DNR is absent and there is no image processing to speak of. Black levels are natural and provide a good contrast and flesh tones look natural. It is a faithful and straightforward reproduction of the game and looks nice.
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround for the Blu-ray, and Dolby stereo for the standard definition copy (both discs include the radio calls of the game for both teams, along with the Spanish radio broadcast). Listening to the Blu-ray it was more of a serviceable track than anything else, with little in the way of directional effects, channel panning or low-end activity. The crowd noise does sound clear in the rear speakers and the game does make you feel like you are there to some degree, but the immersion level is not entirely convincing.
Just two discs which hold the same feature on them, and nothing else.
I remain a little bit torn. On one hand, I can understand and appreciate keeping Game 6 in a vacuum and preserving it as something which becomes elevated from the other six games of the 2012 World Series. On the other hand, this is something that helped turn the tide and was part of a memorable series that was full of dramatic twists and turns, and the Series is available on its own, albeit in standard definition. If you want to experience a really good game this is worth checking out, but if you're a Cardinals fan? Sacrifice the Blu-ray for the series in an already-good presentation.