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A&E Home Video presents

The Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Collector's Edition (2008)

"The first thing that goes through my mind, I'm saying, 'Oh my gosh!' As a seven- or eight-year-old kid, this is the situation you dream about. Bases loaded, Game 7 of the World Series, you have a chance to be a hero. Don't mess this thing up."- Luis Gonzalez

Stars: Luis Gonzalez, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Steve Finley, Craig Counsell, Tony Womack, Damian Miller, Mark Grace, Matt Williams, Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Bob Brenly, Joe Torre
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: approx. 18h:49m:00s
Release Date: 2008-04-29
Genre: sports

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DVD Review

Only six World Series have been decided on a club's last at-bat in Game 7, but just once has a team won the championship when trailing in the bottom of the ninth without sending the game into extra innings. That team was the fledgling Arizona Diamondbacks, which in 2001 capped one of the most dramatic and memorable World Series in baseball history by upsetting the mighty New York Yankees on a bases-loaded bloop single by Luis Gonzalez off ace Yankee closer Mariano Rivera. Though the series had already produced a slew of heart-pounding moments, even the most fanciful baseball scribes couldn't have scripted such an improbable climax. Another Yankee victory seemed inevitable when Rivera took the mound; the flawless reliever had never stumbled in the postseason, racking up an astonishing 23 consecutive postseason saves and posting an equally amazing 0.69 career postseason ERA. But on this balmy November night in Phoenix, the Diamondbacks refused to roll over and die, and their resilient attitude and clutch hitting propelled them into the record books as the fastest expansion team ever to nab a World Series title.

You don't have to be a D'backs fan to revel in A&E's The Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Collector's Edition, but it helps. The latest edition in the studio's ongoing salute to baseball's fall classic includes all seven games—complete and uncut—from the tension-filled, extra-inning contests of Games 4 and 5, in which mercurial D'backs closer Byung-Hyun Kim blew consecutive saves, to Arizona's 15-2 shellacking of the Yankees in Game 6 to the unforgettable final pitch of Game 7. Like an epic movie, this set allows aficionados to dive deep into the series and savor the subtleties, atmosphere, inimitable personalities, and managerial minutia that make baseball such a fascinating sport—and adds appropriate gravitas to the many thrilling moments the series spawned. D'back hurlers Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson shared MVP honors, starting five of the seven games, and once again we can fully appreciate their mastery and stamina, pitch by pitch, inning by inning. Johnson even appeared in relief in Game 7—the day after throwing seven innings!—and retired all four Yankee batters he faced.

Occurring just weeks after the horrific events of 9/11, which cast a pall over the nation and sport, the series provided a necessary diversion from the prevalent mood of fear, sadness, and uncertainty consuming the country. No one expected a sporting event to heal such a devastating wound, but the contest between the Diamondbacks and Yankees was a welcome band-aid, and helped bolster our battered spirits. Few baseball sages gave Arizona, in only its fourth season, much of a chance against the Bronx Bombers, who were gunning for a fourth consecutive world title and had lost just one game in three previous World Series. The Yankees were also—for the first time—sentimental favorites, playing for a city still reeling from the physical and emotional effects of a terrorist attack. Their roster boasted such dangerous hitters as Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, and Alfonso Soriano, and such formidable pitchers as Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Orlando Hernandez—not to mention one of baseball's best bullpens. The D'backs countered with a hand-picked team of veterans that, in addition to Schilling and Johnson, included Gonzalez (who hit 57 homers that year), Matt Williams, Mark Grace, and Steve Finley.

The Yankees' palpable aura and reputation, however, didn't faze Arizona, which jumped out to a two-games-to-none lead, thanks to dominating performances by Schilling and Johnson, who held New York to one run and six hits over a combined 18 innings. After losing a close 2-1 contest in The Bronx in Game 3, the D'backs seemed poised to take a commanding three-games-to-one lead in Game 4, but a two-out, game-tying, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth by Tino Martinez, and a walk-off homer in the 10th by Jeter (both off the sidearm-throwing Kim) gave the Yanks new life. And in the words of quotable Yankee legend Yogi Berra, Arizona experienced "déjà vu all over again" the following evening, as New York replayed the same nightmare scenario. Once again on the cusp of taking the series edge, Arizona manager Bob Brenly turned to Kim to save a 2-0 lead. And once again, Kim blew it, giving up another two-out, game-tying, ninth-inning homerun, this time to Scott Brosius. (The Yankees eventually won the game, 3-2, in the 12th.)

With their backs against the wall, the stunned D'backs came home to Phoenix and took it to the Yanks, halting New York's momentum by scoring 15 runs in the first four innings of Game 6 en route to a blowout victory. That set up the unforgettable finale, a crackerjack pitcher's duel between Schilling and Clemens in front of 50,000 frenzied, pompom-waving fans. When the Yankees scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth, New York's 27th world championship seemed a certainty—especially with Rivera waiting in the wings to close it out. But again, the feisty D'backs bounced back, and in a fitting bit of turnabout is fair play, this time Rivera—unbelievably—blew the ninth-inning save, allowing Arizona to hoist aloft the coveted World Series trophy.

This year, the D'backs (after compiling the National League's best record in 2007 and reaching the NLCS) are off to their finest start in club history. Whether that will translate into another postseason appearance is anyone's guess, but just as Casablanca's Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris, Diamondback fans will always have 2001, and this immensely satisfying DVD set lets them—and anyone who loves great baseball—experience that magical series again and again.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Taken from the original telecasts on the Fox network, the transfers faithfully reproduce standard 480i TV. The picture is clear, but possesses none of the pizzazz we've come to expect from HD sports broadcasts. Still, the games are very watchable, colors and fleshtones are accurate, contrast is solid, and no dirt or debris muddies the image.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is pretty standard, too. The stereo track renders crowd noise and the crack of the bat well, and the colorful play-by-play by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver is always easy to understand. The stereo sound field provides decent ballpark atmosphere, but it's not quite as immersive as one would hope.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 118 cues and remote access
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
7 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Footage from NLDS and NLCS
  2. Interviews and trophy presentations
  3. President Bush throws out the first pitch of Game 3
Extras Review: Several nostalgic extras add context and perspective to this historic series, and give fans a glimpse of D'back victories in the earlier rounds of postseason competition. First, though, a word or two about A&E's classy and informative packaging. The front cover of each disc is set up like a mini newspaper sports page, featuring key facts about the enclosed game, bits of trivia, and such stats as attendance tallies, game-time temperature, and total number of balls and strikes. Inside, there's an inning-by-inning summary of the game (with scoring plays printed in bold red ink), and on the back cover, fans can study the game's complete box score. Well done, A&E.

Leading off the supplements, Inside the Moments: 2001 World Series summarizes the first six games of the series before saluting what Luis Gonzalez terms the "storybook ending" of Game 7. The eight-minute featurette includes interviews with Yankee players Tino Martinez and Paul O'Neill, D'back Mark Grace, and others, along with highlights from all the games. Next up, the 12-minute Winning the NLDS offers up the entire bottom of the ninth inning from the decisive Game 5 of the D'backs series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Slugger Matt Williams leads off with a double (his first hit of the entire series!), which sets the stage for Tony Womack's series-winning bloop single that's an eerie precursor to Gonzalez's Texas-leaguer in Game 7 of the World Series.

NLCS Champions, which runs six minutes, replays the less dramatic final outs of the D'backs' pennant-clinching series with the Atlanta Braves, as called by former D'backs broadcaster Thom Brenneman. The two-minute Craig Counsell Receives NLCS MVP Trophy provides the champagne-soaked D'back shortstop a well-deserved moment to reflect on his fine series, while President Bush Throws Out Game 3 First Pitch, clocking in at two-and-a-half minutes, shows a youthful-looking commander-in-chief tossing a strike from the mound. In a collection of one-minute post-game interviews from Game 7, Gonzalez states the Diamondbacks-Yankees contest will "probably go down as one of the best World Series ever"; Grace, holding his adorable young son, joyously proclaims "the ex-Cub factor is now over"; and Womack (who holds his equally adorable—albeit, more chatty—son) salutes his late father and talks about "earning" the victory.

The 2001 World Series Trophy Presentation, running three minutes, celebrates the first pro championship for the state of Arizona, and allows manager Brenly to graciously opine, "If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best." The D'back aces proudly receive some well-deserved hardware in the four-and-a-half-minute 2001 World Series MVP Presentation to Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, which, in addition to the requisite thank-you speeches, includes some nice shots of closer Byung-Hyun Kim enjoying the Game 7 victory—footage that's especially gratifying when one considers his devastating struggles in New York City. Finally, Destiny in the Desert, the official 2001 World Series film, recaps the entire seven-game contest. Interviews with both team managers and a host of players, along with key clips from each game, highlight this standard, but still entertaining, nine-and-a-half-minute featurette.

Extras Grade: A-

Final Comments

World Series just don't get more dramatic than the battle between the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees in 2001, and A&E faithfully preserves this classic match-up with a stellar 7-disc set featuring all seven games in their entirety. Solid audio and video, and a dandy array of D'back extras make this comprehensive collection a winner. Highly recommended for diehard Arizona fans, Yankee-haters, and anyone who appreciates the great game of baseball.

David Krauss 2008-05-13