100 Years of the New York Yankees
Arts Alliance America // Unrated // $24.99 // September 16, 2003
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted October 18, 2004
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In 10 Words or Less
The history of baseball's greatest franchise

The Show
While YES Network's "Yankeeography" series does a great job of focusing on individual players, this DVD presents the rest of the story, a tale of a team over 100 years old. Separated out into six "episodes" of approximately 40 minutes each, the show covers the team's emergence from it's birth to its recent success in the World Series.

The early years of the team are fascinating, as the roster represents an all-star factory. Some of baseball's greatest grew into their own under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium, and as a group, their story is fascinating, considering the men mentioned are often away, fighting in the war. It was during these early days, the days of Ruth and Gehrig, that the foundation was poured for a dynasty, as 17 championships were earned in the Bronx.

The second episode takes a look at a the following 23 years, which saw the team win seven more rings, while developing some of the greatest players of the time. At the same time, it was the most tumultuous time in the franchise's history, leading to the Billy Martin/Reggie Jackson dust-up, and the Bronx Zoo label. It would be the last taste of success the team would see for some times.

The third inning starts off slow, as the team struggles to achieve postseason success for years, despite Don Mattingly's best efforts to make the team a winner. Fortunately for the team, all those down years led to a stockpile of young talent. As the second-half of the '90s approached though, things began to change. First among the alterations is the addition of Derek Jeter, a dynamic hitter with all the skills needed to be a leader by example. His teammates learned at Mattingly's hand, and took the lessons to heart, going on to earn four more World Series titles in just five years.

The final three episodes don't delve into eras, but instead focus on tangible aspects of the team (i.e. Yankee Stadium), intangibles like Moments and Mystique, and an eternal argument, as in, which is the greatest team in Yankees' history? All three sections talk about their subjects in great depth, utilizing interviews and archival footage to great effect, bringing subjects that are decades old right into today. There's nothing old or stuffy about these biographies, making them an excellent way to introduce a friend to the sport.

The DVDs
"100 Years of the New York Yankees" is spread across two discs, with the first four 40-plus-minute episodes on the first disc, and the final two segments and bonus features on Disc Two. The two DVDs are packaged in a single-width keepcase, with a tray for the second disc. A four-panel insert lists the episodes and has a brief introduction, while the menus are static, plain and straightforward.

The Quality
Overall, the source video is quite good, and generally on par with the "Yankeeography" series, due in part to a number of shared source materials. In the one major difference, this transfer looks slightly softer than that of the "Yankeeography" DVDs. There's also just one soundtrack here, a 2.0 Dolby Digital component that has good depth. The "Yankeeography" sets included a 5.1 track as well.

The Extras
Almost 50 minutes of bonus video is included here, broken down into four categories: "Yankee Heroes," "Magical Moments," "Pitching Masterpieces" and "You Could Look It Up." The selections are a bit odd, but interesting nonetheless. In Yankee Heroes, speeches by Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle are followed by interviews about those appearances, while Magical Moments does the same with memorable wins involving Chris Chambliss, Bobby Murcer and Jim Leyritz. The same idea is done again in Pitching Masterpieces, featuring Don Larsen, Dave Righetti, David Wells and David Cone, and in You Could Look it Up, with Casey Stengel and the Pine Tar Incident. Each bonus duo sheds more light on entertaining subjects, especially during Stengel's appearance before Congress and the Pine Tar incident.

A couple of commercials and public service announcements are also included.

The Bottom Line
I watched this set after reviewing the same company's "Yankeeography" DVDs, and have to say I'm somewhat disappointed. The content is still excellent, but the presentation is hardly as impressive, starting from the case down to the menus. If you were to judge this book by its cover, it would be judged cheap. Look past that, and you will see a wonderful, if slanted history of the New York Yankees. For a Yankees fan, or someone looking to indoctrinate another into the Church of Pinstripes, this is an excellent pick-up.

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