A great sports underdog story, the Chicago White Sox found themselves in the World Series last year after being predicted to finish fourth in their division. Also hanging over the White Sox was the fact that the team's last World Series win was all the way back in 1917. Although the team had its supporters in the cross-town rivalry with the Chicago Cubs, historic Wrigley Field (where the Cubs play) often seems to be a more popular attraction than US Cellular Field.
As the season started, lead by energetic manager (and former player) Ozzie Guillen, the team got off to its best start in franchise history, resulting in a huge boost in player confidence. Operating with a superb line-up, the Sox train only seemed to pick up steam as the season progressed, ending up 9 games up by the time the break rolled around.
However, the Cleveland Indians pushed back and made themselves known as they went on a run late in the season that almost lead to the Sox ending their season early. Still, after clinching a spot in the playoffs after beating Detroit, the Sox found themselves at the beginning of an exciting post-season experience.
This 75-minute documentary does a surprisingly good job compressing the season into essentially about the first 10 minutes before detailing the post-season, which includes a sometimes-tense American League championship series against the Angels and the battle against the Houston Astros to win the World Series. Neither team was expected to be in the World Series (the Astros did not get off to a good start), but both teams came ready to play.
While the White Sox did end up winning the World Series in four games, the Astros did certainly give it a shot and the games were fine examples of exciting baseball and even included some controversial moments, such as a call on Jermaine Dye that some thought was a strike that lead to the bases being loaded on two outs. The next batter, Paul Konerko, stepped up to the plate and proceeded to hit a homer.
Although only clocking in at 75 minutes, this documentary does do a fine job (as previously mentioned) at compressing the season, but also offering a highlight reel of the post-season. Sharply and smartly edited, the program manages to do a strong job creating thrills and excitement even though the outcome is obviously already known. The interviews are also enjoyable and often insightful. Additionally, Michael Clarke Duncan does a fine job providing occasional narration.
While I'd recommend this program to those looking to see the highlights, fans who want to see the entire series would be encouraged to wait until March, when the entire series will be available in a DVD set.
VIDEO: This program is presented in approximately 1.78:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. There is one annoyance, and it's one that's made an appearance in other MLB programs on DVD - the fact that the MLB logo is clearly visible throughout the program in the upper corner. It's definitely irritating, and hopefully the MLB will consider not having it so visible in future efforts. That said, picture quality is otherwise very good, although understandably a bit inconsistent due to differing archive footage. Sharpness and detail are mostly very good, with only a few soft moments.
Some minor shimmering does appear at times, but no pixelation, edge enhancement or other concerns were spotted. Colors appeared bright and natural, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack provides crisp game audio and interview dialogue.
EXTRAS: Bonus clips include: Scott Podsednik's Game 2 Walk-Off Homer, Grand Slam by Paul Konerko in Game 2, Geoff Blum's Game-Winning Home Run in Game 3, White Sox Clinch ALCS, White Sox Clinch ALDS, 2005 World Series Trophy Presentation, TWIB Classic: Former Sox Shortstop Ozzie Gullien Fooled by Hidden Ball Trick Twice, 1969 World Series Game 1 Highlights, "Bobby's Ready" - Jenks K's Jeff Bagwell and, Final Three Outs and Whitesox Clubhouse Celebration.
Final Thoughts: This well-done highlight program makes it easy to get swept up in the White Sox 2005 season once again. It's recommended for fans, although fans may want to wait for the entire World Series to be available in March 2006 on DVD.