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Magic in Minnesota: Remembering the 1991 World Series Championship (DVD Review)

1 Aug, 2011 By: Mike Clark

Street 8/2/11
Magic in Minnesota: $19.95 DVD
1991 World Series: $69.95 seven-DVD set
Not rated.

Perhaps because both involve sitting in front of a panorama and saying, “enthrall me,” I’ve always found that a lot of those who’ve been bitten by the lifelong movie bug are ravenous for baseball as well. My closest movie friends are also among the best baseball buds I’ve ever had, so I was impressed a while back — when discussing the fantastic run of predominantly postseason box sets released by Major League Baseball and A&E — to hear one of them say, hands down, that tops on his Holy Grail wish-list would be a set devoted to the ’91 Series.

I was a little surprised but shouldn’t have been because ESPN anointed it No. 1 as well — whereas my own kneejerk huzzahs would have gravitated toward the 1975 Reds-Red Sox thriller or the 2001 Diamondbacks-Yankees. But just think: five of the seven ’91 contests were decided by one run (and five of six after game 1); four wins came in the final at-bat; three of the games went extra innings (a record); and the final two rose to special heights, with game 7 an all-timer on multiple levels — but especially for containing one of the gutsiest pitching performances in Series annals.

So, OK, I’m a believer.

The 20th anniversary look-back Magic in Minnesota is an overview with lots of older (and, in some cases, heavier) Twins participants — including manager Tom Kelly, who always seemed to keep the franchise in there every year (the Twins won the Series in ’87, too). To this day, you probably aren’t going to convince him that the 12th-inning play at the plate that won game 3 for Atlanta shouldn’t have gone the other way — though if it had, the great Series that resulted likely wouldn’t have come to fruition because the Braves had already lost the first two games.

This brings to mind another ’91 distinction: every win came on the home field, bringing to mind how tough it was for visiting teams to win in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Like everyone else, I loathe artificial turf — yet oddly, it’s difficult to purge certain nostalgic ally warm feelings when looking at old ‘70s games with the Big Red Machine or with the Royals in Kansas City or with these same Twins. The contests did have their own distinctive personality — and bounces of the ball.

Another team of the day always “in there” was, of course, the Braves, — and by ‘91, they already had pitchers Tom Glavine and John Smoltz (but not yet Greg Maddux). Both pitched well here, but you can see from this Series why Braves manager Bobby Cox always seemed to be, whether he literally was or not, in the dugout chewing a Costco warehouse’s worth of antacids. Even two of his wins here came by scores of 5-4 (that 12-inning affair) and 3-2. And then the Braves went back to the Dome with a 3-2 Series advantage and then lost the sixth game 4-3 (on a Kirby Puckett walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th) and then game 7 by a score of 1-0 when Twins ace Jack Morris went all 10 innings for the shutout with a “don’t even think about taking me out” attitude in what he called the most focused game of his career. I’ll bet.

Puckett owned the Series and especially that sixth take-charge game. More than any one thing, it helped cement his stature in Minnesota before too many disclosures of unseemly off-field behavior — which went truly public after his health-induced premature retirement — colored the rest of his life (and even career evaluation) before his death one week before his 46th birthday. You look at Puckett’s great Hall of Fame induction speech, included as an extra on the Magic DVD, and just shake your head. Because he was a player — and one who wasn’t even a product of the New York-LA market — with a national following. The best view I ever got of a home run hit at a game I was at was one of his: with a complete trajectory view right in front of me, from the sweet spot of the bat into some far-away upper deck seat at Yankee Stadium.

The box of complete game broadcasts has a nice feature that allows you to hear the game via either its TV or radio feeds. And each individual disc jacket is splashed with trivia-fancier stats — including even the running time, attendance and (for completists) game-time temperature.

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