..

BOSTON RED SOX 2004 WORLD SERIES
Collector's Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Your 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox
Audio:  Dolby Stereo
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  A&E
Features:  See Review
Length:  2110 Minutes
Release Date:  July 26, 2005

"How many times can you honestly say you have a chance to shock the world?"

Set ****

It just so happened that in the midst of a particularly ugly election year, where it seemed like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy were staring us down at every turn, along came the Boston Red Sox and their historic championship season.  They reminded us at a particularly low point that something could indeed come from the state of Massachusetts to make us feel proud to be Americans.

Let's face it...if you're a tried and true baseball fan, you could never help but have a soft spot in your heart for the Red Sox and the Cubs, even if they weren't your favorite team.  For the Bosox, it was all about the curse of the Bambino.  Babe Ruth got traded from them to the New York Yankees in the teens, and the Sox never managed to win a World Series again.

But all that changed in 2004 when the Sox put the curse to bed once and for all.  It was a year that saw them sweep the Angels in the Division Series, and sweep the Cardinals in the World Series.  But the real drama came with their unprecedented victory over their hated rivals the Yankees in the ALCS.  The Red Sox of '04 were a never-say-die team, and they proved it by going on to do what no team had ever done in the history of post season baseball.

All of this and more is captured in A&E's ultimate gift to baseball fans.  The Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series Collector's Edition is a power-packed TWELVE disc collection that captured every moment of suspense, every moment of triumph, and every moment that made the Red Sox the first great champions of the new millennium.  Eleven classic games are presented here in their entirety:  the dramatic seven games of the ALCS, the finishing four World Series games against the Cardinals, plus a bonus disc that includes among other things the best selling World Series 2004 film.  That's a lot of baseball...but it's a lot of great baseball.  Just the ALCS alone is worth the price of the set...it was a series where the Sox made history time and time again in some of the most exciting games any fan could ever remember.

The curse was certainly on all baseball fans' minds when the Yankees took a commanding 3 games to none lead over the Sox and stood within one victory of advancing to the big show.  No team had ever come back from such a deficit to win a series.  The Sox had their backs to the proverbial wall, but that was when they came out swinging with their heavy lumber.

Who could ever forget Game 4...down in the ninth and facing Mariano Rivera, the Yankees' feared closer, the Sox managed to tie it up and send it into extra innings.  Then David Ortiz delivered the walk-off home run in the 12th to insure the Sox would play again.  It was the longest game in ALCS history...but for the Yankees, the next game would seem even longer.

Already the Sox had challenged history and won...26 times in baseball history had a team fallen behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, and only 6 times had the team managed to win the fourth game to avoid a sweep.  And they were ready to prove they were no fluke...in Game 5, David Ortiz was the hero again, tying the game for the Sox in the eighth and then connecting for the game winning RBI in the 14th inning (after fouling off six consecutive pitches from Esteban Loaiza), helping to eradicate the mark the teams had JUST set for longest ALCS game ever.

Game 6 saw the series return to New York, and the Sox handed the ball to their ace Curt Schilling, who delivered a show-stopping performance despite an injured tendon and a bloody sock.  That, coupled with Mark Bellhorn's three run dinger, and the Sox made history for the third consecutive night.  No team had ever come back from 3-0 to force a Game 7.

And Game 7 left no doubt as to whose year it was going to be.  The Sox finished their unprecedented comeback with a 10-3 rout of the reeling Yankees, thanks to a pair of home runs from bearded perennial fan fave Johnny Damon (one of them a grand slam).

It was one of those moments when you knew you were watching history.  As a 35 year old baseball fan, I know I'd never seen the like before...but fans much older than me had never seen it, either.  And like the 1980 United States hockey team who were always remembered more for their incredible victory over the Soviet Union that brought them to the finals rather than their gold winning match, the 2004 Boston Red Sox would always be remembered for doing what no other team had ever done before.  The fact that they went on to win the World Series in a quick four-game sweep of the Cardinals was almost anti-climactic.  The Sox had already claimed the prize; it was just a matter of crossing the finish line and claiming it.

The curse was at long last a thing of the past.  No longer was the Red Sox fans' cry "Wait til next year!", but "What next?" 

I've never seen such a complete sports package assembled in one DVD set as this.  But the more I look back on the Sox' historic year, it was the only way.  That ALCS was just too incredible...you couldn't make a highlight reel out of those 7 games; they were all highlights.  Any baseball fan will love reliving those magic moments. 

And for the many tried and true Red Sox fans who stuck with their team through years and years of heartaches, the 4 game World Series sweep will be something to relive over and over for the rest of their lives. 

Video ***1/2

We're looking of course at full frame video presentations originally shot for TV, so you might expect some limitations here and there.  The good news is despite the inherent problems with such source material, A&E still managed to knock one out with this good look transfer that captures all the colors of the game with integrity and clarity...very little undue grain or noticeable compression, despite the length of some of the games!

Audio ***

The stereo mixes offer some good dynamic range...check out the crowd noises in the big comeback games to really experience it.  The play-by-play dialogue sounds fine throughout, and there's no apparent noises to interfere with the experience.

Features ****

Ho-hum...eleven discs' worth of action-packed baseball not enough to curb your appetite?  Take a look at the bonus twelfth disc to send your love for the Sox into extra innings.

For starters, you get the official 2004 World Series Film, a nicely put-together highlight movie of most of the things you've just seen in rapid-fire motion.  Then there are clips of celebrity fans, the ACLS Game 7 celebration, the World Series celebration, the shocking day Johnny Damon shaved his beard, looks and interviews at some of the players who became bona-fide superstars in 2004, some chances to listen in on them during game situations, the championship ring and banner ceremony, and much more...basically, everything you need to really feel like a complete part of the championship run.

One aspect that's extra nice is the menu screens, which allows you to navigate each game inning by inning.  Very cool, because there are definitely some ones you'll want to watch over and over again!

Summary:

The Boston Red Sox fans' party never has to stop, thanks to this incredible 12 disc box set from A&E.  2004 was one of baseball's greatest years ever thanks to the history making efforts of the champion Bosox, and this comprehensive collection will stand for all time as a testament to the year they finally broke the curse and made fans of us all.

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com