There's something about the great American pastime that can really be visually satisfying and memorable - the deep greens of a newly cut field of grass, the crack of the bat, the cheers of the crowd. There's also the $25-50 tickets, $5.00 hot dog, $30 parking and $5 soda.
This set offers the complete 2001 World Series, which occured shortly after the tragedy of September 11th (the 2001 World Series started the latest ever, 10/27 - it was only the fourth time that a World Series winner had not been decided in the month of October. The series would then go on to be profiled in an HBO documentary, "Nine Innings From Ground Zero.")
The series had an interesting face-off, as it saw the Arizona Diamondbacks (a franchise that - at that point - hadn't even reached its fifth birthday) go up against the New York Yankees, a team that - over the years - had won a remarkable 26 Fall classics. The Diamondbacks broke the record previously held by the similarly new Florida Marlins, in that they reached the World Series in only their fourth season. Arizona's more frequent home field advantage (including a shutout by pitcher Randy Johnson in Arizona for game 2) proved to be something of a deciding factor, as the 2001 series was one of the few where the home team won each game - the Diamondbacks won the first 2, the Yankees the next 3 and then the Diamondbacks the last 2 (including a 15-2 win in game six and a tight 3-2 win in game seven that was decided in the bottom of the ninth) back in Arizona.
What does disappoint me again here - 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. The additional concern on this particular title is, while the logo is still fairly small, on previous titles it was close to being transparent. This time around, it appears bolder/darker and, as a result, is more noticable. Given the fact that fans are paying a high price for the set, I don't believe it's asking too much to remove the logo on these World Series presentations.
A positive note that must be mentioned is the 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 images of things like photos of the World Series ring for that year. All the information you need to know about each game has been fit onto the cover.
Note: This set includes the entire 2001 World Series (all 7 games). Given that this series went to seven games, it doesn't include any of the championship series games, similar to some other World Series sets from the studio where the series was less than 7 games.
VIDEO: The games are presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio by A & E. The picture quality here is mostly rather good (in other words, about broadcast quality), but it does have some uneven moments where the picture quality slips slightly. Sharpness and detail are pleasing during most shots, but some moments look somewhat softer.
A main issue here is some minor artifacting and infrequent instances of slight shimmering. Otherwise, the source looked to be in good shape and no 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 pretty solid. As with previous World Series sets, there is a text screen prior to the game that does state that there are some imperfections that are in the original elements and that were not a result of this transfer.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack of the games sound perfectly fine although, as with the video, there are some minor imperfections in the source material. However, the audio is mildly thin and flat, but clear.
EXTRAS: As with all of the World Series collector's sets, this set also offers a series of additional clips that round out the presentation, delivering things like award presentations. In this case, we get: "Winning the NLDS", "NCLS Champions" (the final moments of each championship series), "Craig Counsell Receives NCLS Trophy", "President Bush Throws Out Game 3 First Pitch", post-game interviews with Luis Gonzalex, Mark Grace and Tony Womack after game seven; 2001 WS trophy presentation, 2001 World Series MVP presentation to Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling and finally, the brief/official WS film: "Destiny in the Desert". A & E doesn't change the formula for this set in regards to extras - if you've seen any of their other World Series sets, we get the same sort of thing here: an assortment of satisfactory highlight reel footage. What would really be neat - although probably not financially worthwhile for A & E - would be to have commentary tracks from an assortment of players, coaches, historians, etc - for each game to get into the minds of players as each game is progressing.
Final Thoughts: The 2001 World Series remains one of the most exciting World Series match-ups in recent years, with the underdog Diamondbacks managing to beat the Yankees in seven. The A & E set offers very good audio/video quality, as well as a fine set of supplemental features. Recommended for fans.