April 19, 2008

Cal Ripken DVD Collection Review

From our Wolverine State correspondent, "ben," who like me, despite being an ardent Nats fan, loves Cal Ripken and the 80s-late 90s O's, and who unlike me, has a wife who is accomodating enough to allow him to watch five full DVDs dedicated to the life and career of Cal. Anyway, Ben agreed to review them for us. Didn't you all read the fine print back in February 2007 and know that this is how it would go... we would hit 1,000 posts, and then sit back and let our guest correspondents do al the work? Anyway, enjoy, and J-Red, be sure to tell me and Ben what hypocrites we are.

I recently made the $49.99 investment in the DVD collection devoted to Cal Ripken, Jr. available here. It's a six DVDset featuring five games (in their entirety, mostly`from original broadcasts) and one documentary.

Based on the games chosen, you might be under the impression that Cal didn't start playing until Sept. 6, 1995. Overall, I enjoyed my trip down memory lane, watching some old games. It's also fun to see everyone come upto bat and make a mental note of whether or not they are a known 'roider. After having watched it once,however, I think it will be a long time before I watch any of these games again (except for the 2,131 game). It kind of feels like a bootleg copy, though. There are a few things about the individual games that I'll comment on later. For the packaging, though, the special features listed mention the "#3,121" game. On the DVD itself, it lists items from the "#3,121" game...twice. Bad sign for credibility of the package. At least the numbers on the Warehouse during the game are correct. The rest of the packaging is pretty good with lots of trivia, a picture of the Cal Ripken candy bar (who knew?) and other such things. I did not bother fact-checking it all, although maybe I should have given the blatant mistake at the outset.

Also, the DVD cases have the play-by-play of the whole game. It's like an ESPN gamecast. I regret that they had no games from the 1980s. I know he hit for the cycle in 1984. Wouldn't that have been a good choice? Maybe they didn't win the game. I just would have liked to have seen a young Cal with a cartoon bird on the cap. It also would have been nice if they could have found at least one game that had a dramatic ending. Oh well. I'm also sorry that this seems to have been released before his HOF induction. His Cooperstown speech would have been a great addition to the special features. For the games, "scene selection" is done by each half-inning. All the special features are on the disc with the documentary. This is where they stuck some post-game ceremonies. It's also the only place wherey ou can actually see him get his 3,000 hit. Sadly,there are no defensive highlight reels. I know he wasn't flashy, but he does have two Gold Gloves. On with the games:

Sept. 6, 1995 - Cal breaks Lou Gehrig's record
This is the ESPN broadcast, so you're stuck with Berman and Buck Martinez (as in "Oh, Buck! He crushed that!"). If you've worn out your tape of the game or haven't edited out the commercials, and if you want an alternative to the HTS broadcast from iTunes where Mel Proctor threatens to not vote for Clinton if he doesn't show up in the booth as promised, then this makes the purchase worthwhile by itself. It is slightly flawed in that it cuts out just a tad early between innings, so it cuts some stuff off. They cut Clinton's interview short as a result. It even has an unnecessary jump cut from the end of the celebration to the first at-bat of the bottom of the fifth. Weird.

May 28, 1996 - Cal hits three home runs
It's his only three home run game of his career. As is noted often during the broadcast, this came right after Davey Johnson said he was going to move Cal to third (but did not). It's kind of cool to watch Brady Anderson lead off with a home run on his way to slugging 50, and to watch a young Griffey and even younger A-Rod (20-years old). When Cal hits his second home run, a grand slam, Proctor first yells, "Hell yeah!" and quickly changes it to "Oh yeah!" Nice save, Mel. It's a great slugfest with the O's winning (as is the case in all the O's games selected for this set). Cal draws a standing ovation from the Seattle crowd withhis third home run.

Oct. 1, 1996 - ALDS Game 1, O's vs. Indians
While I enjoyed watching the O's win their first playoff game since 1983, this game did not belong in this set at all. Cal gets an RBI single early on and finishes with three hits, including a double. He also strands three runners during the game. The other games selected are celebrations of Cal. This one treats Cal like any other player. It was an odd choice. I suppose they desperately wanted to include a playoff game, but I wonder if this was really the best choice. I guess he never had a clutch hit in a single playoff game. But still, perhaps they should have opted for Game 5 of 1983 and justified it by saying he caught the last out. At least then you'd have a copy of that historic game.

June 13, 1999 - Cal gets six hits
This game was crazy. I remember watching the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast and just being stunned by the O's hanging 22 on the Braves in Atlanta. Cal started getting his ovations from the Braves fans (of those who stayed) when he got his fourth hit. Very odd thing about this DVD, however: it was theESPN broadcast, but it wasn't. While all the other games show the original television broadcast, this game had none of the graphics. None. They'd be referencing stats or lineups posted on the screen, but you don't see it. When you saw replays, there were no cool transitions, so you see the freeze frame for an oddly long time. You even missed some of their replays when they did things like K-Zone, so instead you see the camera moving around and getting its next shot because it was not live on ESPN. I have no idea why this happened for this game and not others. I kind of think they just got the wrong tape.

July 10, 2001 -- Cal wins MVP in his last All-Star game
Naturally, there's a lot of love thrown Cal's way as it is his final all-star game. And unlike Tony Gwynn, he's actually playing. Once Cal gets pulled and they have their little ceremony for him and Gwynn, there's not much left to see in the game.

What it is: Everything you imagine it is.
What it isn't: NFL Films Presents
MLB Productions is way behind NFL Films. It's a 1-hourlove fest for Cal, telling you everything you already know. It's okay. I felt like the narration was being done by a junior college student who was throwing something together for his film and video class. Then the credits rolled. It was Maryland native Ed Norton. I didn't even recognize his voice. Pretty weak.

2 Responses:

J-Red said...

I can't prove it, but I suspect Home Team Sports (HTS) became Comcast Sports Net or its precursor around 1995. Since CBS owned a large part of HTS, they likely didn't grant rights to the games. That's why you never see HTS-televised games on MASN or ESPN Classic.

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