One full year ago, you had to see this coming. No curse (or perceived curse) could prevent the inevitable.
The offseason before the 2009 season showed why parity is a good thing, why salary caps are greatly needed in Major League Baseball, and why the upcoming year's New York Yankee squadron would be unstoppable. Three hired guns signed contracts totaling over four hundred million dollars. This wasn't a Karl Malone/Gary Payton to the Lakers shill move to try to win a championship...this was about every year into the future. These weren't aging veterans, but players at the top of their game, including a potential MVP winner and a past Cy Young Award recipient (who was robbed in his short stint in Milwaukee by not winning the award again).
Mark Teixera. CC Sabathia. AJ Burnett. Three of the most desired free agents in their class, all going to the Yankees, who had just missed the playoffs for the first time in the last decade. Manager Joe Girardi was on the hot seat to win it all, even with less involvement from the big boss (George Steinbrenner) in day to day operations.
Anyways, yes, this review will have spoilers in it, since the title of the film itself is a spoiler to anyone living under a damp rock the last few months. The Yankees won. The Yankees won. The Phillies blew their chance. Hideki Matsui was a savior from another land, Johnny Damon had a career defining series, and Ryan Howard stunk up the place like he had a skunk in his cup (and considering his performance, that's honestly not a bad excuse/explanation). The Yanks extended their own record with their 27th World Series crown.
'2009 New York Yankees: The Official World Series Film' attempts to be an authoritative account of the steps that led to the Fall confrontation between the New York Yankees and the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies. From pre-season moves, to in season ups and downs, we see (briefly) what created a team capable of winning it all. On to the ALDS (American League Division Series) and ALCS (American League Championship Series), and through the World Series, we follow the Yankees as they seek to win the championship for the first time since 2000, focusing primarily on the drama of the best-of-seven series.
Narrator Curt Chaplin does a good enough job with the material given, but that's where I found fault in the film: the mere fact that eleven months of the year were glazed over in fifteen minutes. From the closing of the classic stadium (the house that Ruth built), to offseason moves, and some light notes on the 162 game schedule, we get a few cherry-picked notes and themes, hardly enough to draw an attachment to the challenges the crew will face. The film is viewed through some serious rose-tinted glasses, as there isn't a single mention of the steroids scandal surrounding one of the two leaders of the team: Alex Rodriguez. There's no mention of how incredibly often home runs were hit in the new home of the Yankees, other than a one liner saying that the team hit a team record number of home runs during the season. This is a stadium that felt more like something out of an EA sports game than real life, playing a vital element in the makeup of the season, yet it doesn't even get a one-liner.
The series games are presented through extended highlights, with plenty of behind the scenes footage spliced in, and feels like the polar opposite of the SportsCenter highlight reels I grew up with. Odd factoids about records and historic moments/achievements are listed after the highlights for each game.
We see the season/series through the eyes of those involved in some manner, from the players and manger, to broadcasters and beat writers, opposing players and Yankees of the past, with their personalities on full display in their short appearances (it's amazing how humbled Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui is, while Nick Swisher is as close to a polar opposite to the Japanese slugger as anyone could be).
What this release boils down to is a film made specifically for the fans of the New York Yankees, and no one else. This isn't a year-end recap/year in review feature. This is a focus on the champions, and their final hurrah in particular, and as such, it doesn't have the wide reach a more league specific feature might have. Yankee fans will find this feature a must own, whilst those who loathe the Bronx Bombers will find this release to be nothing more than idol worship.
The 'World Series 2009' Blu-ray sports a 1080i AVC MPEG-4 encode in the 1.78:1 box. Honestly, it's one of the better looking 1080i sporting events, making the UFC and WWE events already on Blu-ray look pedestrian.
Yes, the picture is obviously interlaced, and yes, aliasing issues pop up every now and again (with pin-stripes and deeper backgrounds coming through a bit jagged). The program is obviously culled from a humongous library of footage for the year, with varying film grades, as grain levels tell the tale of the tape, jumping between non-existant and thick and hearty, much like Sabathia.
Artifacting is hardly an issue, as even the darkest night skies are crisp and solid, though some footage has some light pixelation. Some shots have strong color bleed, and others sport excessively hot/orangey skin tones (though the interview segments are perfectly natural in skin tone). Color banding is kept to a minimum, but it is present ever so slightly. Detail levels are strong, color is vibrant, and reds and crimsons (think the Phillies uniform) replicate fantastically. While this is hardly a no-hitter or perfect game, it's most certainly a quality game pitched by Shout!
There are two audio options for the 'World Series 2009' disc: the default DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, and a Linear PCM Stereo track. The 5.1 isn't amazingly immersive, but it does the job, with some good audience surround and hefty bass presence that creates a nice atmosphere. Rear activity (other than crowds) can be slim, but I really don't see how they could have utilized it more considering the source material (there are no air fights or gun battles here). There is a constant echo in Chaplin's narration that is grating on a good day, and flat aggravating if you let it get to you, while some lines from broadcasters have a distinct amount of audio distortion (which is not the fault of the disc, but the recording, but still has to be brought up). For what it is, this release sounds quite appropriate, and puts the other Blu-ray sporting events to shame, flat out shame.
This feature is gorgeous in terms of picture quality, especially in the third clip (an A-Rod homer, with the slow motion clip showing rain dribbling ever so lightly). Few moments are entire at-bats, though the ones in there are goodies, like a prolonged nine pitch at-bat featuring Johnny Damon against Brad Lidge. The best clip of the entire World Series follows, with the infamous one-man double steal. All six of Godzilla's series winning (and record tying) RBI's are shown, along with the final three outs, and the final clip concerns the clinching moments of the series title. A nice feature, but as the lone feature on this release, it comes up short. I mean, we are talking about the Yankees, and all...
The film covering the 2009 World Series is a fun effort, with a fairly biased take on the Yankees, and baseball in general. New York fans (of the Yankee assortment) will get a great kick out of this movie, though Phillies fans, or Yankee haters (of which there are many) will probably find it unbearable. The Blu-ray sports solid audio and video, the same extras from the DVD, and best of all, no mention of Kate Hudson and any "connection" she had to A-Rod breaking his post-season slump. Since this film, like any other championship memorial, only focuses on one team out of the entire league, it is most certainly for fans only. Yankees fans, only.