December 9, 2018 – This eight disc collector's set from Major League Baseball is a welcome addition to my own collection of Boston Red Sox videos and books (including the romantic comedy “Fever Pitch”). I had already watched, and recorded, the World Series on my DVR, but the higher resolution video and audio quality of this blu-ray set is better than you can get on a DVR due to legal restrictions, plus, it includes more games, more audio tracks, and some written material (SleeveStats ® trivia and baseball stats of the games) as well.
So how do you get eight video discs out of a five-game World Series? They add two more bonus playoff games from the division and league championship series, and then add one more because it takes two discs to contain the longest game in World Series history, the seven-hour, 18-inning marathon of World Series game three. The two bonus games are the game four clincher against the Yankees in the Division Series and the game five clincher against the defending champion Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, both won by the Red Sox on their road to the World Series.
The video is taken from the Fox Network broadcasts, which is mostly clean, with a few minor glitches here and there that appear to originate with Fox digital signal broadcast or reception problems. The division and AL championship games are from the TBS video feed, which are clean. The original World Series Fox audio is supplemented on the disks by three other audio tracks identified as Spanish language, Red Sox Radio Network and Dodgers Radio Network.
The video is shortened considerably by the use of very abrupt cutaways at the end of innings. Pitching changes are edited, resulting in a new pitcher sometimes magically appearing on the mound after the cut. Sometimes even the time it takes for the next player to come to bat in an inning is shortened by editing. One four hour game became three hours after all these edits. The videos have virtually every play, but a lot of time that is not game action has been edited out.
This editing can mean removal of some slow motion replays that were in the original telecasts, for instance when the last defensive play to end an inning is a good play. There are gaps in the alternate radio broadcast audio tracks, probably to get rid of commercials and station identification breaks and other talk that would cause the audio to get out of sync with the video. There is a disclaimer on the disc about how the radio broadcasts don't begin after commercial breaks at the same time the video broadcasts do, but that did not bother me at all.
Having already heard the Fox audio, I chose to listen to the Red Sox Radio Network broadcast audio while watching the World Series games. The Sox radio broadcasts, by Joe Castiglione, Tim Neverett, and Lou Merloni are very comprehensive. Of the group, Castiglione has the most experience, having been with the broadcast team since 1983. Castiglione got so excited in game four of the Astros series, he fell out of his chair. The Los Angeles Dodgers radio network team consists of Charley Steiner and former player Rick Monday.
Having already heard the Red Sox audio broadcasts for the entire division series from MLB.com, I chose the TBS audio for the Yankees game, which is very dramatic (more on this later). Another option on the Yankees game is the Yankees Radio Network team, featuring silver-throated John Sterling, with Suzyn Waldman. For the lone Houston game, the Houston Astros Radio Network audio is an option, featuring announcers Robert Ford and Steve Sparks. Spanish language audio is an option for all games. All these alternate audio tracks go silent at some point after the games end, and audio of the post-game comments, and on-screen player and manager interviews during and after the games, is found only on the Fox or TBS broadcast audio tracks.
The most dramatic game of the World Series was the epic, 18-inning, seven hour, 20-minute game 3 contest (six hours, 41 minutes combined total on two discs after editing) between the Red Sox and Dodgers. The game was decided, 3-2, by a Max Muncy walk-off home run, spoiling a heroic relief pitching effort by Nathan Eovaldi. He threw threw 97 pitches, and over six innings on short rest. It was by far the longest game in World Series history. Incredibly, this one game took longer to play than the entire four-game 1939 World Series. Game two was also dramatic, with two lead changes in the first five innings.
Also dramatic is the deciding Sox-Yankees division playoff game included in this set. It gives the viewer a sense of the intensity and passion of Yankee fans at Yankee Stadium in New York (particularly in the TBS audio track I listened to). The chants, the yelling, the pounding. These Yankee fans are like English Premier League soccer fans. They take a back seat to no one. While the Sox pitchers and hitters quieted the crowd for much of the game, Sox closer Craig Kimbrel woke them up in the ninth inning when he couldn't find the strike zone. The Sox lead dramatically shrank from 4-1 to 4-3 and the crowd roared to life. The final out at first base was a close one, decided by video review.
Some say Kimbrel, one of the best relief pitchers ever to take the mound, was unconsciously tipping his pitches, or maybe he just had a case of the yips. In the ninth inning, facing a tough Yankee lineup, he threw 14 of his first 17 pitches outside of the strike zone, and hit a batter to force in a run. Whatever the cause, this calm baseball game suddenly became one of incredible drama. Yankee Catcher Mark Sanchez hit a towering fly ball to left field that was caught for an out in the ninth, but if he had squared up that ball just a tiny fraction more, it would have been a home run, which would have won the game for New York.
Coming into the World Series, Sox pitcher David Price was a big question mark. He was hammered by the Yankees, but pitched a great game against the Astros. His overall playoff record prior to the Astros game was not good. Price cast off his playoff demons and pitched at an MVP-type level in the World Series. Lost in the fog of that epic game three was an outstanding pitching performance by young Walker Buehler of the Dodgers, who held the powerful Sox offense scoreless for seven innings. He is a bright spot for the future of the Dodgers. Veteran pitcher Rich Hill also pitched a great game four for the Dodgers.
Clayton Kershaw, the All-Star pitcher for the Dodgers, was a disappointment in the World Series, giving up two runs in the first inning of each of the two games he started, and a total of five runs in the first game he started. He gave up four runs in the second game he started, the final game of the World Series. He was out-pitched by David Price in the final game. Price gave up only one run on three hits over seven innings as the Sox won, 4-1. This extensive collector's edition video disc set rates an A.
Video on the blu-ray set is high def, 1080p. Video on the DVD set is 480, both are wide screen (16:9 aspect ratio). Total run time for all discs combined is 23 hours, according to Shout! Factory, which released the disc packages. All audio tracks are lossless DTS Master Audio 2.0 in the blu-ray set. I have not seen the DVD set, nor have I seen any specs on the DVD set, but it is probably Dolby Digital 2.0 since more audio and video compression is needed to fit these lengthy videos and multiple audio tracks on DVDs.
Listening to the games, mostly on the Red Sox Radio Network feed, I noted that when the radio feed is edited, sometimes ambient crowd noise, seemingly from the Fox or TBS audio feed, is inserted in its place. This crowd noise was louder than the radio feed, particularly on my rear channel surround speakers. My Denon AVR-791 surround amp defaulted to playing all those DTS Master Audio 2.0 audio tracks in Dolby Pro-Logic II mode. Switching my surround amp's surround audio setting to DTS HD Neo 6 seemed to eliminate this occasional loud rear channel volume gain.
I watched the entire blu-ray set of discs using a Sony blu-ray player and a high def projector on a large home theater pull-down screen. The picture is nice and sharp, except for the few glitches noted above. I had originally seen the World Series in standard definition, a somewhat fuzzy picture, so it was nice seeing it in high definition for a change.
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