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2010 World Series Champions: San Francisco Giants (Blu-ray Review)

13 Dec, 2010 By: Mike Clark

Shout! Factory/Vivendi
$19.93 DVD, $29.93 Blu-ray
Not rated.

The normally light-hitting Giants scored 29 runs in five Series games while the Texas Rangers amassed just 29 hits. They were also paced by a pitcher who doesn’t look like a pitcher (or even a player), is nicknamed “The Freak” and in one shot on this release is even seen sporting a bowtie. How many players have you ever seen wearing a bowtie? I don’t ever recall seeing one on, say, Moose Skowron or John Kruk, though I’m willing to stand corrected.

All this is a way of saying that the Giants kind of captured my imagination, which was easy to do once cameras transmitted that first postseason shot of George W. Bush sitting in the Rangers box next to team president and part-owner Nolan Ryan — who, by the time the Series was over, probably wished he were still doing those old Advil TV spots so that the manufacturers would send him a few free cases of the stuff.

Though five-game Series must be the bane of DVD marketers’ existence, there are nifty infield plays and keen dugout reaction shots here (from both teams) to what their opponents were doing. Historically, this was the Giants’ first Series win since they were still in New York and broke the backs of the 1954 Cleveland Indians in a four-game sweep — permanently traumatizing several of my best childhood Ohio friends and causing them severe emotional problems as adults.

To reach the Series, the Giants had to overcome a 13-15 record in August — which their pitching staff did by giving up no more than three runs in 18 consecutive games in September, the longest such single-season streak since 1917 (though the Reds took it to 20 in 1943-44). The Rangers overcame a horrifically blown 5-0 lead to the Yankees in game 1 of the American League Championship Series, though after that, they made it look pretty easy against the defending Series champs.

Not counting bonus extras, this overview documentary runs about 85 minutes, even though it was a short matchup in which the Rangers won only game 3 (their first after returning to home turf in Arlington). Thus, much of the drama is on the periphery. Foremost is the assignment that faced pitcher Tim (“The Freak”) Lincecum — who, yes, was already a two-time Cy Young winner but was merely being asked to face the Phillies’ Roy Halladay (who had merely just no-hit the Reds in the NLDS) in game 1 of the NLCS. And then Cliff Lee in game 1 of the Series (and, eventually, the Series finale). In game 1 of the 2009 Series — are you still following this? — Lee had made the Yankees look about as terrible as a pitcher can make a team look, even successfully nonchalanting a fielding play in one instance.

Lincecum took the assignments in stride, though he got off to a wobbly start in the first Lee matchup, even taking a line drive off his torso in one instance but surviving no worse for wear. Other standouts: poised fresh-faced catcher Buster Posey, who looks about as much like a Buster as Parker Posey; 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner, who pitched eight shutout innings in game 4; and veteran shortstop Edgar Renteria, whose game 5 home run iced the Series — almost as much as his walk-off Series single had done against the Indians when he was with the Florida Marlins in 1997 (thereby finishing the mental trauma on Cleveland fans that the ’54 Giants had started).

My key gripe with this release — which is otherwise enjoyable, and no more so than in the final victory parade — is the musical soundtrack. The canned music Major League Baseball Productions uses is generically terrible in the first place, but here it frequently drowns out the narration and game action. It isn’t as bad on the regular DVD (included with the Blu-ray as well) or the Blu-ray’s 2.0 track — but it’s crippling enough. On the Blu-ray’s dts track, it’s awful; note how much better the same plays play in the bonus section, which utilize an exotic concept: natural sound.

The other disappointment, though it’s no deal-breaker, is an omission of Tony Bennett’s singing of the National Anthem in the bonus section. Can you imagine? Tony doing it in San Francisco? I walked into the room just as he was starting it on the original telecast, and I was so moved that I had to sit down. It was only — in fact, almost exactly — 60 years after his recording of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, the first of his waxings I know of to have made a dent at the time.

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