Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I went to see the premiere of the Major League Baseball World Series 2004 DVD on Monday night at the Wang Center. The place was packed with citizens of Red Sox Nation wanting to get the first look at the compilation showing the Sox historic victory over the Cardinals last month.

I walked over the the theater from work and got there about an hour before the 7:30 showtime. I got my ticket at the will call window and waited for the doors to open. While I was waiting, Sox CEO Larry Luchino arrived and signed some autographs for the fans waiting outside. Once the doors opened, I made my way into the lobby.

There was less there than I would have expected. A few posters trumpeting the release of the DVD the next day were scattered around the area. There was the requisite souvenir stand selling assorted Red Sox paraphernalia, but that was about it as far as baseball theming. The only other thing that told you this was a baseball event was that the Wang Center concession stands were selling ballpark fare like hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn and beer, probably not the standard fare. They were, however, charging ballpark prices for the stuff.

Most of the VIPs were at a private party up on the second floor, although longtime Red Sox radio voice Joe Castiglione mingled with the people. Very few people bothered him. Although practically everyone in the crowd certainly knew Joe’s voice, only a small percentage of them could have picked him out of a lineup. I shook his hand and then went into the theater to find my seat. I had a great seat in the second row, just to the right of the center section. Since the orchestra pit section of the theater was between the first row and the screen, I wasn’t uncomfortably close, even sitting that far down.

The program got started about 10 minutes late (the fans were starting to chant “Let’s go, Red Sox” at that point). The theater was packed with about 3,500 people, another testament to the drawing power of the Red Sox. How many other teams would draw a sellout crowd to a huge theater to see a DVD they could buy the next day on a Monday night, competing against the local team on Monday Night Football?

The program started with a couple of folks from Major League Baseball Productions who worked on the DVD. They gave a bit of an introduction and mentioned that they had 500,000 copies of the DVD ready to ship on Tuesday, which was more than double the previous record. They then introduced the guys we were really waiting to see: Terry Francona, Mike Timlin and Trot Nixon.

They came up on stage carrying the World Series trophy. I have to admit to misting up a bit - it was the first time I had laid my own eyes on the trophy since the Sox won last month. The crowd, needless to say, went wild and Francona wryly noted that “If we only had a little enthusiasm, we’d be OK.” Francona made a few additional remarks and the the film started.

I really liked what they did with the DVD for the most part. They spent about 20 minutes on the season with highlights and interviews with players and management commenting on the events. Each great play and the first appearance of each player brought a cheer from the crowd, almost as though they were watching this live at Fenway Park. There was even a bit about the Nomar trade, during which Theo Epstein commented that if it hadn’t worked out, it could have set the franchise back for years.

There was a very short section on the ALDS win against the Angels - probably less than five minutes and then it was on to the Yankees series. The Sox epic comeback against the Bronx Bombers was certainly the highlight of the season, and fortunately MLB gave it the showcase it deserved. The final section of the video was on the World Series itself, and the Red Sox total dominance of St. Louis. It then finished up with the Red Sox return home and the parade.

Overall, I really liked the DVD. I thought the highlights they selected to show were representative of the Red Sox season, and I thought the interview clips with the players were good. We probably could have lived with a little less Kevin Millar, but you can see why the camera goes to him. He’s a pretty funny, charismatic guy and he no doubt has a job waiting in a broadcast booth somewhere when he retires. There were no clips of anyone drinking Jack Daniels shots, though.

I could have done with a few less mentions of the Curse, though. Really, how many times do we have to hear that it’s been 86 years since the Sox last won the World Series? How many black and white clips of Babe Ruth did we really need to see. I know the Curse is a compelling, irresistible hook for someone making a film like this, but really, enough is enough.

My only other quibble is that they used the Dropkick Murphy’s version of “Tessie” over the end credits. It was OK, but I would have preferred another Fenway Park standard - “Dirty Water”, perhaps?

The only people who showed up on screen who got booed (other than the Yankees) were Nomar, Governor Romney and the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessey. I had seen Shaughnessey in the lobby earlier in the evening, so I have to wonder how he reacted.

All in all, it was a great night and I really enjoyed seeing this for the first time with a big crowd of Red Sox fans. I’m sure it’s a disk I’ll watch again and again and again.


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