The Boston Red Sox made a bold move in 2004, when they fired the manager that got them to the seventh game of the American League Championship Series in 2003 and took a chance on Terry Francona. They also went out and signed Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling – who himself was no stranger to World Series victories (having captured one for the Diamondbacks in 2001. Were the pieces now in place for the Sox to overcome 86 years of disappointment? Or was the famous "Curse of the Bambino" still alive and strong?
Well, in case you pay no attention to sports whatsoever, you already know the answer to this question – but the Sox amazing victory wasn't their accomplishment in the 2004 World Series (they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games rather easily), but the fact that they were down 3-0 to the juggernaut New York Yankees and mounted perhaps the greatest comeback in all of sports history.
To this DVDs credit, a great deal of time is spent covering the Sox comeback and victory over the Yankees – and it's a good thing, since it's that series – and not the World Series – where all the real drama lies. In fact, once you get to the World Series portion of this presentation, the action seems rather anti-climatic (much as the actual games did themselves) after the great showdown with the Yanks.
All but ignored on this DVD are the St. Louis Cardinals, whose own dramatic victory over the Houston Astros in the National League Championship Series is just briefly glimpsed on this disc. In most highlight films I've seen in the past, both the winning and losing team get a fair share of the time – but the 2004 World Series DVD is more of a highlight film for the Sox than a title that looks at both teams. In other words, even if you're a die-hard fan of the Cardinals, it's doubtful you'll want to add this disc to your collection.
The title is narrated by Denis Leary (a big Sox fan himself), and he does a more enjoyable job of narrating the action than we'd get from a sportscaster or standard voice-over guy. Because Leary is such a vocal fan of the Sox in real life, we can feel the frustration in his voice from the Sox's history of defeat, and share his joy when they finally claim their hard-earned victory.
The 2004 World Series DVD is one of those presentations that is actually full-frame, but all the video is letterboxed. You only notice that the movie is full-frame when names pop up on the screen that go below the letterboxed picture. Of course, with this kind of format the title is not anamorphic. All in all, the picture isn't too bad, although I found the reds to be a little over-saturated – which can be a distraction, considering that's both teams (the Sox and the Cardinals) main colors! There's also an annoying Major League Baseball watermark logo that appears in the right upper-hand corner of the letterboxed part of the picture...if they needed to put this on, you'd think they'd at least stick it in part of the black bars area. It also proves to be somewhat of a distraction.
The audio is presented in 2.0 Dolby, which is more than adequate for this type of presentation. Nothing spectacular here, but no noticeable glitches or other problems either.
Although they don't add up to a lot of additional time, I liked the bonus material that has been added to this DVD. It starts off with Terry Francona's press conference when he was first hired as the manager of the Boston Red Sox. Then there's a number of video clips of the playoffs and World Series. These are comprised of David Ortiz's two ALCS walk-off (i.e. game ending) hits against the Yankees; the final out of the ALCS; the post-game celebration at the ALCS; the final out of the NLCS; the final out of the World Series; and the post-game celebration at the World Series.
There's also a neat clip entitled "Post Season Pre-Game Sound," where we get to see a number of Red Sox players having conversations with each other and other people prior to game time. Finally, there's a featurette entitled "The Storytellers," in which former players tell a few stories about when they played baseball.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is a must-own for Red Sox fans and recommended for baseball fans in general. The only real warning here is for Cardinals fans, since there team doesn't get "equal time" on this DVD. Otherwise, it's a nicely-made look at the ALCS and World Series from 2004.