As of this writing, the New York Yankees have the upper hand in the playoffs on the Baltimore Orioles (related: friggin' Raul Ibanez) in their series, while the New York Mets are sitting home yet again, watching from their various televisions. It was hardly the best way to spend the team's 50th year in existence, finishing with a 74-88 record and two dozen games out of the National League East Championship, but at least they have a nice fancy mega DVD set to celebrate it, right?
From a packaging perspective, the set is familiar looking to the Fenway Park Collector's Set that is also on shelves. Both are hefty sets that include more than two dozen pages of trivia, tidbits and reminiscing on key moments and figures in team history, with a bevy of discs contained in those sets spanning more than 24 hours of consecutive run time. It looks big, is big, and could possibly be used as a self-defense device in case of physical attack.
Now that we have established the packaging is similar to the Red Sox, let us take a gander to the discs, shall we? The big difference in the content from other sets is that the discs contain more of the season highlight films than other ones do, with Disc 1 containing a highlight film on the 1963 (27:55), 1969 (26:03) and 1973 (29:27) seasons. Disc 2 has the World Series films from the 1969 (40:27) and 1986 (29:53) seasons, along with "An Amazin' Era" (1:28:12), which was a film that was produced to celebrate a quarter century of Mets baseball at the time, and includes many of the moments on the set, as well as some others. Disc 3 reverts back to highlight films on the 1978 (27:19), 1988 (30:19) and 1990 (39:00) seasons. Disc 4 has more of the same, though with a little more production value. "Milennium Mets" (40:43) looks at the 2000 team, and I would not spend too much time on this film, if only to mention that said film did not spend a lot of time with player interviews and recollections. Which would be fine if we were talking about some of the older seasons, but 2000? Go figure. "The Team, The Time" (1:03:39) looks at the 2006 team and includes a little more interview time and on the year itself (natural because of the performance that year). Disc Five includes Game 3 of the 1969 World Series against the Orioles.
The second half of the set is more focused on the games, with Disc 6 housing Game 6 of the 1986 National League Championship Series (NLCS) and Disc 7 has Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. As a side note, Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola's commentary is like manna for this guy. Disc 8 has Game 5 of the 2000 NLCS and Disc 9 contains a regular season game from September 21, 2001. This game is notable for being the first baseball game in New York following the September 11 terrorist attacks, a game that the Mets won 3-2 on a late Mike Piazza home run. Disc 10 does not have a game, it has a produced segment on the 50 Greatest Players in Mets History (1:07:09), where Mets broadcasters, writers, players and fans (Chris Rock, to name a recognizable one) talk about their favorite Mets players through the years and who the greatest of them was.
Now that I have seen the Fenway Park Collector's Set, my first reaction was to see how much of this material was recycled from previous sets. And yes, there is a little bit of redundancy, with the 1986 games previously appearing on the Essential Games of Shea Stadium set. However, it is pleasurable to see another game from the '69 Series on video (leaving me to wonder at what point that series appears as its own Collector's Set in the future) and the entertainment in and out of the games is fun to watch.
There is a bit of a dilemma here for me. While A&E/MLB found a way to celebrate the team's Half-Century of existence, and the set itself is nice, it does feel like a bit of a hollow set. I like what is here, it just does not have the same feeling of gravitas that it has compared to similar sets that are out there. Perhaps it is symbolic of the Mets to begin with, that feeling of existing under someone's shadow. But the weird thing is that considering the attention paid to the Mets to begin with, I have a feeling like every usable piece of MLB-produced film that was around was used for this set. So there is the sense of exhaustion with this set that I may not have gotten with other ones, and there certainly was not a feeling that I had seen most of this stuff before. And if the goal of these sets is to unearth a bunch of new content while maybe throwing in a duplicate disc or two, so be it. Mets fans are served well by this release.
A mix of 1.78:1 widescreen and full frame video over the course of ten discs. More specifically, two films (the 50 Greatest Players and 2006 Film) are the only things in 1.78:1, with everything else in full frame. I was somewhat surprised at the level of full frame video in the set, but the material looks solid, or at least as solid as can be on some of the source material. It is reproduced accurately and is free of edge enhancement or other image processing. About half of the material in the set includes the MLB watermark, so plan accordingly.
Two-channel Dolby stereo in some parts, and mono in others. As is the case with previous MLB/A&E sets if one is expecting to get an immersive sound experience, one should look elsewhere for that demand to be fulfilled. All of the game action (not to mention the films) sounds clear in the front channels with little to no channel panning to speak of. All in all these discs were as advertised sonically. It is worth noting that the 2000 NLCS game and 1969 World Series game both have an alternate radio track that can be selected and enjoyed during viewing to boot.
The 'Greatest Players' film has some additional footage (33:29) that includes prior Mets highlights like the World Series wins and 2006 clinching win, to name a couple. But otherwise, there are 10 discs here, don't kvetch.
The New York Mets 50th Anniversary Collector's Set may feel like an ugly stepchild of sorts, but it has enough substance and unique content to it that makes it worthwhile and perhaps a bit of a better purchase that the Yanks or Sawx sets that are out there. Technically the discs are as good as they are going to be and it serves not only as a good complement to the existing Mets sets out there, but may be as definitive as things are going to get for the club. Definitely worth purchasing for hardcore fans.