Another half-dozen bios of the greatest Yankees
After the first set included such top talents as Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly, the second set had a high standard to live up to, and a smaller pool of legends to choose from. But since this is a series about the great Yankees, there are still plenty to honor with their own "Yankeeography." Volume Two collects the shows featuring Lou Gehrig, Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard, Paul O'Neill and Mariano Rivera, each hosted by Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling.
Up first is Gehrig, "The Iron Horse." Considered one of, if not the best first baseman of all time, his episode reveals why he is better known for the disease that bears his name and claimed his life than for his outstanding baseball career. The show piles on the drama of Gehrig's life, and includes the transcendent "Luckiest Man" speech. For a baseball show, it's a real tearjerker. Like Gehrig, Rizzuto's fame as an athlete is shadowed by his post-playing years, when he made his name as the Yankees' television broadcaster. But before he became known as the pitchman for "The Money Store," he was one of the greatest Yankees shortstops.
Both of these players had talent, but it takes attitude to be a winner as well, and Mickey Mantle and Paul O'Neill had it in spades. Mantle was obviously the more talented player, displaying an ability to play the game on a level that a rare few could even dream of, on his way to seven World Series rings. But despite his ability, it was his drive that made him a champion as he overcame adversity and battled through injury. While "The Mick" could have gotten by on his pure talent, O'Neill, on the other hand, complimented an excellent swing with pure emotion, earning the label of a warrior in winning five championship rings of his own.
A pair of groundbreaking minority Yanks make up the remaining two episodes, catcher/outfielder Elston Howard and closer Mariano Rivera, each with four World Series rings of their own. Howard was the first black man to wear the pinstripes, but he was no token player, earning two Gold Gloves, nine All-Star appearances and the AL MVP award in 1963. Rivera arrived in the Bronx from much further away than Howard's St. Louis home, after being signed by the Yankees out of his native Panama as a free agent. After almost being traded for stalling in his development as a starting pitcher, he became a key set-up man, and then the best closer in the game.
Though the names, other than Mantle and Rivera, aren't the top players in Yankees' history, the stories are some of the most intriguing in New York's storied past. Some major episodes (Joe DiMaggio, Roger Maris, Goose Gossage, Roger Clemens) have yet to be collected on DVD, but something has to be saved for Volume Three. YES Network has done a good job in producing these glossy retrospectives that will satisfy any Yankees fan, and be of interest to those with an interest in America's pasttime.
Also included, taking one of the 2.0 feeds' place on the second disc, is a non-screen-specific commentary for Mariano Rivera's "Yankeeography," recorded by Rivera and Sterling during the team's 2004 Spring Training. Sterling, a seasoned broadcaster, runs the show, interviewing, praising and leading Rivera in order to get him to talk. As a result, there's more Sterling than Rivera, which is likely a good thing, considering Rivera's heavily-accented English. The conversation covers much of the same ground as the show, perhaps in a bit more detail, and is a good listen for Rivera fans. If the producers taped the commentary, it could have been included as a quality separate extra, as it's doesn't really relate to the show on-screen, and ends 10 minutes before the episode concludes.
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