Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series
Collector's Edition DVD Box Set
7 DVDs - 18 Hrs 49 Mins
A&E, $69.95 from their site
Let's face it, anyone expecting an unbiased and objective opinion of this box-set is in entirely the wrong place. I can no more write about it neutrally, than I could review my own marriage. [More on that later though...] For this was, arguably, the greatest World Series of all time, when you combine the drama of the games with its context, less than two months after the 9/11. This was an integral part of the national healing experience - if you didn't get a chill when the Stealth Bomber flew over BOB before Game Seven, you should check your pulse. There is a part of me that does think it would have been more fitting had the Yankees won. However, that is a very small part, and how many World Series do the damn Yankees need?
Even putting that aside, the series had everything: two blowouts, but also four games decided by one run and two went into extra innings. We got homers from sources both expected [Gonzo, 57 regular-season shots] and surprising [Counsell, 4; Barajas, 3]. The Diamondbacks out-scored the Yankees 37-14, but it was the Evil Empire who looked set to prevail, going into the bottom of the ninth in the deciding game. The entire series could hardly have been scripted better - though the ending of Game 7 would have got the author thrown out of film school for excessive implausibility.
I have every intention of enjoying the entire series, when I have time. However, in the interests of getting this review up before the All-Star break, I picked one game to watch, along with the bonus features. But which one should it be? Game 7? Too obvious. Game 6? Too long. Games 3, 4 and 5? Too painful. [And besides, every time you watch them, a small Korean pitcher dies...] It basically comes down to the first two games, and I figured we might as well start at the very beginning - a very good place to start, as noted baseball analyst Julie Andrews once said. Er, sang.
The DVD set is exactly what it says. The seven games of the World Series, in their entirety: no more [you don't get pre- or post-game coverage, save for Game 7] and no less, save the commercials. This reduces, for example, the 2:44 playing time of the opener, to a 2:07 DVD. To recap that game, the Yankees scored first, but Arizona won 9-1, getting Mussina out of the game after three innings. Gonzalez and Counsell homered, while Gonzo, Sanders and Miller had two hits each. Schilling gave up three hits over seven innings, with only one run allowed and eight K's. A few thoughts:
- Damn, Schilling was good. The run scored on a marginally-hit Jeter and a jam-shot by Williams, who had no idea where the ball went, and the other two hits was a bloop Finley should probably have caught. and a groundball under the glove of a diving Counsell.
- Speaking of whom, Craig's batting-stance is a work of art. Albeit a surrealist one, as if someone described a normal stance, through a poor translator, to Pablo Picasso. Who wasn't paying much attention at the time. Though a sign in the stands proclaims the owner a member of the Greg Counsell Fan Club. This may have been an in-joke that meant more at the time.
- My, those turquoise jerseys were truly frickin' awful. History has not been kind to them, though they are not quite up there with the all-time worst uniforms, such as the 1975 Astros.
- Is that Barry Bonds in attendance? Sitting next to Billy Crystal, no less. Colangelo there as well, of course, looking just as uncomfortable as I remember him looking at games.
- Amusing to see footage of Luis Gonzalez and Tino Martinez, playing on the same high-school team in Tampa.
- Quite forgot Randy Choate was on the Yankees, sucking for them [7 hits in 3.2 WS innings], well before he started sucking for us [a two-year, $1.3m contract that got us 23 innings at a 5.48 ERA]
- Defense was also crucial here: ours was solid [particularly a great diving stop by Counsell], while the Yankees were terrible, not just the two errors which led to score five unearned runs, but in general flat and uninterested.
- Tony Womack lets go of his bat towards the mound, and relief pitcher Sterling Hitchcock threw it back at/towards him. That leads to a nice BOB chorus of "Yankees Suck!"
- Look! It's Bob Melvin in the dugout! Our current manager was Brenly's bench-coach at the time, though nobody even mentioned him at the time.
- The average age of that World Series team: 32 years, 133 days. There are only two players older than that on the current roster: Augie Ojeda and Randy Johnson. [Doug Davis would also qualify, but he's on the DL]
All told, an amazing blast of nostalgia. The video-quality is fine - while not perhaps quite pristine, and it won't be mistaken for HD, it is certainly good enough. It seems to come from the NY Fox affiliate, but since it was nationally-televised, the commentators are neutral. All the bonus features are on the final disk: these include clips of Arizona clinching the NLCS and NLDS, post-game interviews with Grace ["Party at Grace's place, and 49,000 people are invited!"], Womack and Schilling, as well as President Bush throwing out the first pitch at Game Three. However, the Destiny in the Desert mentioned as an extra is only the single section of the film covering Game Seven.
That is a minor quibble at best. Really, if you are a fan of the Diamondbacks, you must have this, even if you have to sell a child or an unwanted minor organ [kidneys - they're vastly over-rated...] in order to do so. Some teams go a century without winning a World Series at all, never mind the most gripping of recent times. I don't think I will ever grow tired of watching the ten minutes over which the bottom of the ninth in Game Seven unfolded. Especially if I need to remind myself that magic can happen in baseball, when you least expect it.
We now head towards the contest winners. But first, my World Series story. It begins with Game Six, which we saw at Farrelli's Cinema Supper Club in Scottsdale: they'd suspended their usual "dinner and a movie" program, in favor of "dinner and a World Series game." As the massacre progressed, and it became clear there would indeed be a Game Seven, a steady stream of customers made their way out to the booth to make reservations for the deciding contest. That included Chris and I.
The next night we reconvened, noting a large number of familiar faces, and settled down to enjoy the game. As I sat there, a thought struck me like a thunderbolt: it'd be a memorable moment to propose marriage. Of course, that'd only be the case if we WON; a loss would be so totally disheartening for us both. But I made a quiet vow to the baseball gods: just let us win this one, and I'll make an honest woman of Chris. She, of course, had no inkling of this at all.
So, in the early innings, I spent the time between pitches working out what I was going to say: how life here was almost perfect, and only one thing could possibly make it any better, etc. After Bautista doubled Finley home in the sixth, I started practising my speech: however, my matrimonial prospects dwindled as the Yankees first tied the game in the seventh, then took the lead in the eighth. After Rivera fanned our guys in the bottom half of that inning, things looked bleak indeed for wedding-dress suppliers in the Phoenix area.
Of course, we know how this ends. Grace singles; Rivera can't handle Miller's bunt; Bell's bunt fails, but Womack doubles down the line; Counsell takes one for the team. And then, glory of glories, Gonzalez fists one off his knuckles and it floats through the air to land on the shallow outfield grass. Crowd goes wild, strangers are hugged: everyone went through that. But I dropped to my knees, and poured my heart out, telling Chris she was my one true love and asking her to spend the rest of her life with me. It was epic, a proposal that would go down in legend, truly one for the ages.
Unfortunately, due to the frenzied delirium in Farrelli's at that moment, Chris didn't hear a word of it.
"Yes, it's great, isn't it?" she responded, having taken a brave guess at what she thought I was saying - and, understandably, confusing the hell out of me. Once we'd got past that, I repeated myself - a little louder and closer to Chris, though in my mind, it wasn't quite as perfect in the rerun as it was the first time around. She didn't seem to mind in the slightest, however, and in the midst of an ocean of joy, we were perhaps the two happiest people in the state of Arizona that night.
Now, to the contest winners, though an honorary mention - in the Fiction category - goes to this tale by Robert S. It appeared over at DBBP, so was not a formal entry. But it still managed to make me laugh, even though I really shouldn't...
My kid brother, Timmy Sickface, was diagnosed with terminal boneitis back in spring of 2001 shortly after his puppy died saving the lives of a bunch of orphans and kittens and bunnies. Aside from training puppies to save lives, Timmy's favorite pastime was watching the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team he loved with all of his arrhythmically-beating heart. Timmy succumbed to his incurable illness that summer and never did see the Diamondbacks win the World Series, but he was there in his own way. Timmy's dying wish was to have his ashes scattered at the ballpark. The groundskeepers did one better: They made the left-handed batter's box out of Timmy that night. The same box where Tony Womack, Mark Grace, and Luis Gonzalez delivered the critical blows to Mariano Rivera.
I'm not going to say that Timmy won the game that night. It's pretty obvious that's what happened, though.
Okay. Enough artificial creation of tension. I basically copped-out and handed the judging task over to Mrs. SnakePit: it was just too difficult for me to come to any decision here, being basically of the opinion that EVERY story about the 2001 Series is a great story. But Chris is made of sterner stuff, and came up with our two winners: Wactivist and troubleon14thst. She added, with regard to the latter, "I like that one because he sacrificed his great seats to buy a buttload of tickets for his whole group to share the experience. That's a TRUE FAN." Correction: a TRUE FAN who now also owns a 2001 World Series box set. :-) I'll be in touch with the two winners shortly - using the email address on their accounts, so let's hope that's accurate.
Thanks to everyone who took part, and Suzanne for providing the prizes. I just wish I had twenty copies, so I could give a box-set to you all, but it was a blast to read the stories people shared, and I look forward to hearing all how we celebrate the next World Series in which the Diamondbacks take part. How does this October sound?