But naturally the big story was the Cardinals, coming back from the dead to battle their way to a World Series title against seemingly all odds, and this officially-sanctioned MLB documentary chronicles that memorable postseason run. Narrated with modest dramatics by Jon Hamm this 87-minute documentary recaps the Cardinals "collective will to win" and their "knack for doing the unthinkable", beginning with a quick peek at the end of the regular season before progressing into a bullet train tour of the playoffs and the series.
Amidst the slow motion clips, fly-on-the-wall footage and interviews from key Cardinals there is an undeniable excitement here, but that's due to the now familiar way these sports highlight films are assembled and cut. Any fan of the game with even a sliver of baseball fever will probably find it difficult to look away, as MLB Productions does a nice job telling the tale without completely kissing Redbird behind to the point of alienating everyone else.
Except Nolan Ryan, possibly.
There aren't any world-shattering revelations to be found here, especially not in such overstate-the-obvious comments as Lance Berkman's admission that "being down 2 is better than being down 3". Instead a film like this is meant to let baseball geeks marvel at the way a team came together when it needed to, augmented by a three home run game for Albert Pujols, the pitching awesomeness of Chris Carpenter and the truly remarkable performance by David Freese throughout the entire postseason, leading to that now legendary Game 6 comeback. The outcome may not be a surprise, but the journey is still exhilarating stuff.
Sure, this is tilted toward the St. Louis fan, but any MLB faithful (except perhaps Nolan Ryan and the Ranger Nation) will get a charge out of the up-close-and-personal accounts, the dramatic slo-mo, the swelling score and all of that great baseball. If there is a bright spot, however, for Ranger fans it could be that these memories will be a bitter pill for Cardinal fans, what with the departure of Albert Pujols.
So there, Texas. You're even now.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a big step up image-wise from most of the MLB "greatest game" series, with this doc carrying consistently bright colors. But most importantly the transfer here has significantly cleaner, more detailed game footage. It's not the same as watching the games in HD, but I'm not complaining.
Audio options for the documentary are available in either 2.0 Stereo or 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. Both tracks are more than serviceable and neither will disappoint, but the 5.1 provides more ballpark ambience during the clips and the talking head interview segments have a noticeably deeper, beefier heft.
Disc one houses the doc, as well as an assortment of bite-sized extras which sort of serve as a Short Attention Span Theater version of the Cardinals and the postseason. The self-explanatory content consists of:
This Week in Baseball: Lance Berkman (03m:54s)
Prime 9: Tony LaRussa (01m:54s)
Cardinals Clinch NL Wild Card (01m:40s)
NLDS Game 5: Last Out and Celebration (03m:33s)
NLCS Game 6: Last Out and Celebration (02m:45s)
WS Game 3: Pujols Three Home runs (03m:45s)
WS Game 6: Freese Triple to Tie (01m:34s)
WS Game 6: Berkman Single to Tie (01m:50s)
WS Game 6: Freese Walk-Off Home Run (04m:37s)
WS Game 6: Berkman/Freese Presser (:51s)
WS Game 7: Freese Double to Tie (:57s)
WS Game 7: Last Out and Celebration (01m:38s)
WS Parade (:52s)
Disc two contains the complete deciding NLDS Game 5 between the Cardinals and Phillies, held 10/7/11 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. And what a game it was, a 1-0 Chris Carpenter complete game that ended with a showdown against the slumping Ryan Howard, culminating in one of the more visually awkward on-field celebrations I've seen in some time.
This two-disc set offers a 90-minute condensed version of the 2011 World Series, from a fan-friendly Cardinals perspective (meaning this IS NOT geared toward Ranger fans) as well as a second disc with the clinching NLDS Game 5 against the Phillies.
Fun, exciting baseball highlights, interviews and insight of the Fall Classic, especially worthwhile in the dead of winter as a reminder that the unpredictable thrills of the 2012 MLB season - if 2011 was any indication - will begin soon enough.
A worthwhile rental recommendation at the very least for fans of the game.