We live in a wonderful time when it comes to entertainment, and for baseball fans (hello, my name is Rich) it is really quite exciting. When I was a youngster, back in the pre-VHS/pre-cable days, the bulk of my baseball knowledge came from reading about it in Baseball Digest, The Sporting News or the backs of baseball cards, in between watching Cubs day baseball on television. The weekly NBC Saturday afternoon 'Game of the Week' was the only real opportunity to see two different teams battle it out, and to see players I had only read about.
It sure is a different world nowadays. Today - in addition to things like the MLB network - there's the Baseball's Greatest Games series, like this release highlighting Derek Jeter's 3000th hit. Instead of a highlight reel it's an entire game, in this case it is the one between the Yankees and Rays from July 9, 2011, and it probably takes a special level of baseball fan to want to own a copy of the complete game, because the odds of rewatching it in its entirety are probably slim. But it's the knowing it's on your shelf is what gives it some heft, as is the ease of jumping around to key moments on a whim. From an historical standpoint this is a big game not just for Jeter or the Yankees, but it is also the way it unfolds (especially for Jeter), and having it be a Saturday afternoon home game in New York only sweetens the grooviness of it all.
Obviously there are no spoilers needed here - Jeter indeed gets his 3000th - but the fact he goes 5/5, including driving in the game-winning run paints the guy as a near baseball god in a performance that would have seemed cheesy had this been a Hollywood movie. And just how goosebumpy is it that number 3000 is a bottom of the third inning solo home run to left field, a 3-2 slider down and in that Jeter drives deep after fouling off a number of pitches? It doesn't matter how many times you may have seen the highlight of the moment because there is something special about seeing it as part of the actual game. It's a wonderful moment from one of the great players in the game, and no matter much I hate the Yankees (doesn't everyone outside of New York?) there's no denying Jeter's ability on the field. And this game is thrilling to revisit.
My wife doesn't understand the significance that these Baseball's Greatest Game discs have to a diehard baseball nut, and she wonders why in the hell anyone would want to watch a game that already took place? I don't expect her to understand, because this isn't for her. It's for those folks who understand that baseball is more than just a stat or a single play, it's the culmination of everything takes place between the first pitch and the last. Jeter's 3000th hit is the selling point here, but there's more going on that just a 3rd inning homer.
A lot more.
The big game is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with the supplemental material a mixture of full and widescreen. The quality of the YES Network broadcast on this disc is mediocre, certainly not on par with HD quality, which automatically knocks this down a visual peg or two. Lots of ringing and shimmer - especially on crowd shots - and the backcover disclaimer that the transfer "may contain minor video and audio imperfections that are inherent in the broadcast quality feeds" is quite accurate.
Audio is provided in serviceable 2.0 stereo, available with either the television or radio play-by-play. Voice quality is clear, and though the presentation is fairly basic it works pretty well.
There's a nice set of extras here that compliment the historic game itself, chronicling some other Jeter career milestones. In addition to the Post-Game Press Conference (15m:05s) there's his 1st Major League Hit (:47s), 1st Major League Home Run (01m:02s), Most Hits at Yankee Stadium (03m:41s), Most Hits by Shortstop All-Time (01m:16s), Passes Ruth on All-Time Yankees Hit List (:57s), Passes Gehrig on All-Time Yankees Hit List (04m:39s) and Speech at Closing of Yankee Stadium (02m:01s).
If you're a baseball fan it doesn't get much more thrilling - even if you despise the Yankees - to marvel in the cool of not just Derek Jeter's 3000th hit (a homer, no less), but in a game where he goes 5/5 day and produces the game-winning run in his last at bat.
Recommended if you love baseball.