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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The New York Yankees Fall Classic Collector's Edition 1996-2001
The New York Yankees Fall Classic Collector's Edition 1996-2001
A&E Video // Unrated // October 11, 2005
List Price: $79.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Crichton | posted October 25, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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Three World Series Championships in a row

Three World Series Championships in a row.

Four World Series Championships in five years time.

Twenty-six World Series Championships in franchise history.

Some people (read: Red Sox fans and Yankee "haters") aren't appreciative when Yankee fans rattle off those statistics - particularly that last one. However, whether you're a Yankee fan or not, you have to admit that they're pretty impressive facts. In fact, according to Mr. Michael Kay, the Yankees are one of the "Most Winningest" teams in Major League Baseball. And though they haven't performed as well for the past couple of seasons, we (and Arts & Entertainment home video) aren't here to talk about the present. Instead, A&E have chosen to showcase games from their four championship World Series' and one game that, while they didn't win, was just flat out spectacular.

After failing to make it past the 1995 division series, everything seemed to gel the following season once Derek Jeter became the full-time shortstop and Joe Torre was hired as the team manager. Initially, Joe wasn't a popular choice in New York, and boy did the fans and critics let him know about it. However, they were all silenced once he guided the team to its first of four World Series championships after an eighteen year drought. Throughout this five year stretch, the core group of Yankees remained the same - Derek Jeter, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera. Along the way, under-appreciated General Manager Brian Cashman added players Jorge Posada, Scott Brosius, Andy Pettitte, Orlando Hernandez, David Justice and Roger Clemens. Each one of these additions were warmly embraced by Yankee fans and they contributed greatly to this era of the Yankee Dynasty.

If you haven't already guessed, I have to warn you that this review will be highly biased. I've been a life long Yankee fan since the days of Bucky "F'in" Dent, Ron Guidry and those scrumptious Reggie candy bars. While there might be some who remember where they were when JFK was assassinated or Kurt Cobain took his life, I still remember where I was when I heard that Thurman Munson's plane crashed (in fairness, I wasn't born when Kennedy was killed and couldn't care less that Cobain committed suicide). I'm not sure if Munson's death had anything to do with it, or if it was due to my being forced to move to another city, but the Yankees and I drifted away in the early 80's. According to the stats i've read, other than late manager Billy Martin's revolving door and the debut of Don Mattingly, I really didn't miss much. 

It wasn't until 1994/1995 that I became reacquainted with the team from an unlikely source - my grandmother. Growing up in a single parent household, I never had the traditional "Field Of Dreams"-esque moment where the father passed down the love of the game to his son. Instead, when I started playing Little League, my grandmother was one of my biggest supporters. Sure, my grandfather and mother would tag along, but it was my grandmother that gave me the initiative and the support to keep playing. Once I hit high school, I discovered the wonderful world of comic books and music and since I wasn't anywhere near as physically "built" as the athletes were in my new school, baseball fell by the wayside. Fast forward ten years and now i'm living on my own in the city where I grew up. When I would call my grandmother to see how she was doing or when I would go up to visit, she would constantly rave about Don Mattingly. Not about his performance on the field, but how cute he was and the fact that she was still pissed at Steinbrenner for making "Donnie Baseball" cut his hair a few years earlier.

In 1996, between a co-worker's affection for the team and my grandmother's constant raving, I became a casual follower of the team via the New York Daily News. I'd catch the occasional game on TV, but since we were still a couple of years away from the debut of the YES network and I didn't have MSG network, there weren't that many for me to catch. 2002 saw the debut of the Yankees Entertainment And Sports Network and from the day it premiered, it was a constant fixture at my grandmother's house. However, this wasn't always a good thing. See, my grandmother had high blood pressure and emphysema (which required her to use an oxygen tank). If the Yanks weren't playing well during a game, she'd let them hear it by shouting at the TV using phrases that would put a die-hard member of the Red Sox Nation to shame and cause her blood pressure to rise. In fact, it got so bad one time that her doctor was going to force her to stop watching the games. She acquiesced to his wishes by writing Steinbrenner letters about the game, the team and his management of it instead of yelling at the TV (Georgie responded with the standard "Thanks for being a fan" form letter which she kept). She was that big of a fan.

She passed away in the latter part of 2002 and I am still grateful to her for helping me find the team (and sport) again. I have two children of my own and i'll be sure to pass along my love for the game and, in particular, the Yanks (minus the yelling at the TV set). In fact, during this past playoff season, I brought the family to catch game four at the stadium. And though they lost the ALDS, the memory of my two-year old daughter on my shoulders shouting "GO YANKEES!" will always be with me and greatly helped to lessen the pain of the loss of the series.

But enough about me. A&E has put together an outstanding seven disc set for fans to relive this era of Yankee greatness. Unlike a set which was released over the summer for another American League team in the Northeast that shall remain nameless, this one features only one game from each of their championship runs. Each game, from the original television broadcast, is on its own separate single sided disc. 

1996 World Series - vs. Atlanta Braves - Game 4

From Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, this is the series that started it all. Down 6-0 from the first six innings, the Yanks were able to mount a comeback (matching the 2nd largest in World Series history) thanks to Cecil Fielder, Charlie Hayes and a nail-biting tenth inning. It was also the sixth come-from-behind win during their 1996 postseason, which is the most ever by a club in one postseason.

1998 World Series - vs. San Diego Padres - Game 3

After being forced to take a year off thanks to the Cleveland Indians, the Yanks came back strong during both the regular season and postseason, finishing 75 games over .500. Thanks to the efforts of Scott Brosius (who went on to win the 1998 World Series MVP), the Game Three win extended the Yanks World Series winning streak to seven.

1999 World Series - vs. Atlanta Braves - Game 3

During Game Three, which was the 50th extra-inning game in World Series history, the Yanks hit four homers - the most in a World Series game since the Oakland A's in 1989 World Series. Mariano Rivera, 1999 World Series MVP, had not allowed a run in his last 24.1 inning of postseason play over 17 outings. His career postseason ERA was 0.39, the lowest in postseason history for relievers with 30 or more innings pitched.

2000 World Series - vs. New York Mets - Game 5

This was the first series that I went out of my way to record (on VHS to boot!). The previous Subway Series took place in 1956 and while i'm sure the rest of the country could care less, the atmosphere in the NYC was electric. While Jeter was named World Series MVP, Mo recorded an all-time record seventh World Series save and his 18th consecutive postseason save. With this World Series victory, the Yankees became the first club to win three consecutive titles since the Oakland A's back in the early 70's and the third team to win four World Series Championships in five years (the other two were also Yankees teams).

2001 World Series - vs. Arizona Diamondbacks - Game 4

Though there was no happy ending to this series, Games Four and Five stand out as two of the greatest games i've ever experienced. Scheduled a month and a half after the events of 9/11, Game Four was the first World Series game to ever extend into November. It was also a highly emotional game for the city of New York, the baseball players and fans. Thanks to a great pitching duel between Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and "Saint" Curt Schilling, the game was tied through the eighth, until Arizona scored two runs to take the lead 3-1. In the bottom of the ninth, Derek grounds out, O'Neill singles to left and Bernie strikes out. With two outs on the scoreboard, Tino Martinez - who had been hitless in the series so far, only reaching base twice on walks - takes the first pitch from Byung-Hyun Kim and drives it to the bleachers to dramatically tie the game. Derek Jeter follows it up with a "walk-off" home run in the tenth to win Game Four (it was the 12th time that a World Series game ended on a home run and the fourth in Yankees history). 

Later that evening during Game Five, the Diamondbacks held a 2-0 lead over the Yanks until the ninth inning. After a heart-felt ovation for Paul O'Neill from the fans during the top of the inning, the Yanks were down to their last out with Posada on base, Byung-Hyun Kim on the mound and Scott Brosius at the plate. And like Tino the night before, Brosius hits a two-run home run off of Kim to tie the game until Soriano knocked Knoblauch in to score the game winning run in the twelfth. Unfortunately, they didn't include this game, nor is it mentioned on the bonus disc.

Bonus Disc I

In addition to the five complete game discs, A&E has also included two bonus discs with random World Series moments along with other Yankee achievements during this era. Covering 1996-1998, the first disc contains the official '96 [1h 14m] and '98 [56m] MLB World Series films and the following bonus clips:

  • Doc Gooden's No-Hitter (1996) [12m 27s] - Originally broadcast May 14th, 1996 on MSG, this is the last inning of Doc's no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners. He faces Ken Griffey, Jr, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Paul Sorrento and...A-Rod!

  • 1996 ALDS Game 2: Palmer's E Provides Win [3m 22s] - A brief montage showing how the Yanks won this game in twelve innings.

  • Pitch-By-Pitch: Leyritz vs. Wohlers [1m 28s] - Jim talks about his battle against Mark Wohlers that allowed the Yanks to tie the game against Atlanta in the eighth inning.

  • Yankees Favorite Moments [3m 56s] - Joe Torre, David Cone, Jim Leyritz, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter reflect on their Favorite Postseason moments.

  • 1996 World Series: Last At-Bat [4m 54s] - Atlanta's final at-bat in the ninth inning. John Wetteland gets Mark Lemke to pop up to Charlie Hayes to end the game and win the Yankees their first World Series championship in eighteen years.

  • David Wells' Perfect Game (1998) [7m 1s] - David's perfect game against the Minnesota Twins originally broadcast on MSG. He strikes out Javier Valentin and gets both Jon Shave and Pat Meares to pop up to Paul O'Neill for the first regular season perfect game in Yankee stadium history and only the 15th perfect game in MLB history.

  • 1998 World Series MVP Trophy Presentation [2m 4s] - Bud Selig presents the MVP trophy to Scott Brosius.


Bonus Disc II

Covering 1998-2001, this disc contains the official '99 [57m] and 2000 [1h 11m] MLB World Series films and the following bonus clips:

  • David Cone's Perfect Game (1999) [5m 48s] - Originally broadcast July 18th on FOX, David Cone strikes out Chris Widger, gets Ryan McGuire to pop out to Ricky Ledee and had Orlando Cabrera pop up to Scott Brosius to end this perfect game against the Montreal Expos (remember them?). What made it even more special was the fact that Don Larsen, the Yankee who pitched the only perfect game ever in the World Series, was in attendance (and threw out the first pitch).

  • 1999 World Series: Trophy Presentation [3m 02s] - Bud Selig makes his third trophy presentation to George and Joe, who talks about the hardships the team went through that season.

  • 2000 ALCS Game 4: Rocket's Masterpiece [6m 7s] - Clemens pitches a complete game, one hit shutout with fifteen strikeouts that sets an ALCS record.

  • 2000 ALCS Game 6: Justice Rocks Rhodes [5m 14s] - A clip of David Justice slamming an Arthur Rhodes ball into the upper deck of Yankee Stadium to give the Yanks a lead that they wouldn't relinquish.

  • 2000 World Series: Clubhouse Celebration [3m 52s] - Random four minutes of Yanks celebrating at Shea and Mo going back out on the field to celebrate with the Yankee faithful who hung around.

  • 2001 ALDS: Jeter's Game-Saving Flip [1m 55s] - After Shane Spenser's throw from right field missed both cutoff men, Derek Jeter makes a shovel pass to Posada to get Jeremey Giambi out at home to keep the A's scoreless and avoid being swept out of the division series (like another Northeastern team recently was).

  • 2001 AL Pennant: Torre's Toast [2m 59s] - Joe giving a quick speech to the team.

  • Looking Back: O'Neill Reflects On Last Game [2m 16s] - Paulie talks about how he felt while the fans spent the entire top of the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2001 World Series (his last home game) chanting his name.

So, how's it packaged? - Each disc comes in its own separate thinpack case with a double sided cover that contains the rosters, stats, trivia and summaries for each game it houses.

So, how's it sound? - Unfortunately, there aren't any issues with the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. That means Joe Buck comes in loud and clear. Thankfully, we're given a reprieve with the '99 game against the Braves as the clearly superior Bob Costas handles the play-by-play.

So, how's it look? - Four of the five games were originally broadcast on the FOX network, while the '99 series was on NBC. Each game is sourced from the original broadcast and in the standard fullscreen television format. Considering the age of some of these games, I didn't have a problem with the picture. Would I like them in HD widescreen? Of course. Beggars can't be choosers.

What'dyathink? - A&E has put together a pretty comprehensive overview of the latest, greatest era in the Yankee Dynasty. Sure, I wish it had every complete ALDS, ALCS and World Series game, but unlike their rivals who have twenty less World Series rings, there'd be quite a few discs to buy and it'd be pretty damn expensive. As it stands, the New York Yankees Fall Classic Collector's Edition 1996-2001 does a great job of treating both casual and die-hard fans to outstanding moments that, until this release, could only been seen sporadically on the YES Network. Highly Recommended.


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