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.
While the White Sox did end up winning the World Series in four games (the Sox are the first team in history to win three straight games in which it took the lead in the eighth innning or later), 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.
The major feature of this set is the entire World Series broadcast (all four games), presented in widescreen. Additionally, we also get the ALCS clincher against the Angels and the ALDS clincher against the Red Sox (also presented in widescreen.) While some have been upset that the set does not include both the full Angels and Red Sox showdowns. However, I think that the inclusion of the final games of both are fine, as they provide a look at the tense wrap-ups of both, and the inclusion of only the last games of each keeps the price of the World Series set at a more reasonable level.
What does disappoint me - and I've mentioned it in every review of a Major League Baseball product on DVD - is that the MLB logo is once again seen throughout the entire program. While the logo is fairly small (it has been moved from its usual spot in the upper corner to the lower left corner), it's sizable enough to be distracting. I was hoping that, for a World Series set, it would be gone, but oh well.
A positive note that must be mentioned is the set's use of the inserts for each of the discs. Instead of just slapping on some basic graphics, the inserts (both inside and out) provide a scorecard, game highlights, trivia, attendance, number of pitches, game running time and trivia. All the information you need to know about each game has been fit onto the cover.
VIDEO: The games were shot in HD and are presented here in 1.78:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality here is mostly terrific, but it does have some uneven moments where the picture quality falls off a tad. Sharpness and detail are stellar during most of the close-ups and very good during wide shots.
The only real issue here is some noticable shimmering, mainly in occasional wide shots. While not a major issue, the worst moments of it did become a bit distracting. Otherwise, no pixelation or other concerns were spotted. Colors looked bright and bold, with nice saturation and no smearing or other faults. The shimmering (and MLB logo, as mentioned earlier in the review) aside, picture quality here was solid.
SOUND: While a Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation would have likely been more immersive and added to the "you-are-there" feeling, the stereo soundtrack that's offered here is just fine, with (mostly) clear ambience and dialogue from the announcers. The back of the box notes that "This program contains technical imperfections that are inherent in the original recordings. We have made every effort to correct them but unfortunately, we were not able to fix them all." I did notice a few extremely brief moments where dialogue sounded a bit distorted. It is certainly a positive that some issues were apparently corrected for this set.
EXTRAS: Aside from the additional 2 games aside from the World Series games, there are a wealth of bonus clips. The most fun footage is the wrap-up for the Chicago World Series parade, where the players each give a brief speech on the season to the massive crowd. Additionally, there are highlights of the parade, as well. Also, we get a clip of the trophy presentation, as well as manager Ozzie Guillen carrying the trophy to fans near the dugout.
Additionally, we get "rare" interviews with Scott Podsednik, A.J. Pierzynski, Mark Buehrle, Aaron Rowand, Don Cooper, Kenny Williams, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and Ozzie Guillen. The interviews are brief clips, but they do offer some interesting insights and good stories. Finally, we get footage of the final three outs of the World Series and footage of the Sox clinching the American League Central Division.
Final Thoughts: While the games contained obviously aren't going to have the same kind of tension watching them now on this DVD set, fans are certainly going to find this excellent set appealing. Presented in widescreen and with a nice selection of supplements, fans can go right to their favorite moments, as the chapter selection on each of the discs are broken up by inning. Audio/video quality is quite pleasing and the supplements here definitely round out the set well. Recommended.