Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mets DVD Review

The Highlight Video has become a bit of a lost art over time. The Mets used to produce a short and sweet highlight video after each season, recapping the ups and downs and great moments of the past year's team. It was usually produced by the team, with a sponsor, and released the following spring.

The Mets have highlight videos for most of the early years of the club, running pretty much through the 1980s. Most of them are pretty hard to come by nowadays. Of course, it's the 1986 Highlight video that stands above them all, filled with unforgettable clips of the team both on the field winning, and off the field, acting like goofy idiots. I have met several Mets fans who have the video committed to memory, from "Mookie, did it break the glass?" to "The curtain calls and standing ovations, it's a display of emotion from the hometown fans." to Roger McDowell and Ho-Jo's Hotfoot Clinic.

Then, all of a sudden, the highlight videos disappeared. Didn't matter, really. Who would buy a highlight video for the 1992 Mets? Who cared? But the videos reappeared briefly when the Mets returned to prominence in 1999 and 2000. Given away as promotional items at Shea, both of these videos can be found, if you search hard enough. 1999's effort is nice, if uneven. Narrated by Tom Seaver, it's got plenty of clips and a lot of cheesy music. The 2000 video is actually very well done, and highly underrated as compared among other highlight films. Narrated by Tim Robbins, it's a quick moving video that really captures just how exciting that season was, from Japan, all the way to the World Series.

And, after 2000, the highlight videos disappeared again. The Mets did put out some other promotional videos between then and now, but most of them focused on singular games or individuals, rather than any given season. Made sense, again, who wanted a 2002 Mets highlight video?

But, as many of you have seen advertised, there's a 2006 Mets Highlight Video. I guess it's not a video per se, it's a DVD, but it's a season highlight film. The Mets have been plugging it pretty hard over the past few weeks. It's a pretty glitzy package, produced by MLB, and full of extras, in a bright orange case.

Now, it was posed to me by El Guapo as to why one would want to buy this DVD when many of last season's highlights are readily replayed on SNY, and in the TiVo era, clips and games can be saved. In fact, I myself have all of last season's playoffs on tape, but it's a flawed process. Sometimes a tape runs out. Sometimes the cable goes out. Sometimes the box resets itself and records the wrong channel. And, if you have full games, you know that sometimes, you don't really feel like sitting through and watching the entire game (like all 5 hours and 46 minutes of the Grand Slam Single game from 1999). Plus, SNY's highlight programs cover most of the regular season, but none of the playoffs. And they're full of commercials. That's why we have highlight videos in the first place. And, as such, I'd recommend this DVD to any interested Mets fan.

Like the 2000 video, this DVD is narrated by noted Mets fan Tim Robbins (and whether you like him or not, he's still a Mets fan, just like the rest of us). It's a nice effort overall. It's substantially longer than most highlight videos have been (most were between 30 minutes and an hour, this is nearly 90 minutes). But it's uneven in many ways. In the past, most highlight videos stuck to the facts. Loads of highlights, noted games, great finishes, great individual performances, clubhouse camaraderie. This video has all of that. It begins with a brief look back at 2005, from Minaya coming in as GM, to the hiring of Willie Randolph, and the signings of Pedro and Beltran, and the emergence of Wright and Reyes, and the offseason of '05-'06. And then we get rolling with the '06 season, and the wild ride that it was.

But there are some moments in the season that are glossed over, and replaced by some boring "Mets in the Community" features. Now, I'm not saying that the work the players do in the community is unimportant. It deserves to be included, but the DVD devotes nearly 10 minutes to Delgado giving a speech to an Elementary School in Queens, as opposed to, say, Delgado's walk-off HR against the Pirates, or some more in-depth looks at the 9-1 road trip in June.

There's also a good chunk of the DVD that shows the Mets at the All-Star game, including a lot of shots of Wright in the HR Derby. Plus Wright's HR in the All-Star Game from about 16 different angles. Again, necessary stuff to put in, but it becomes a little superfluous.

The team chemistry is not overlooked. There's a short section devoted to the players talking about each other's personalities and nicknames, and some of the dugout antics. But, while it touches on some things, other, more interesting things, such as the origins of Reyes's handshakes and hand slaps, and El Duque's "Rowboat" dance are passed over entirely.

My final major gripe is that there isn't enough in depth examination of the playoff games themselves. Yes, each game is covered, and the wins are fleshed out, and the losses glossed over. Which is fine. But the wins are often covered so quickly, that important details are left out. Delgado's majestic HR and Wright's 2-run double and fist pump in Game 1 of the NLDS are barely even shown. And, while much deserved attention is paid to Beltran's HR in Game 1 of the NLCS, almost none is paid to Glavine's sterling 7 innings, or the sparkling defense the Mets displayed that night. There could have been less Wright at the All-Star Game, and more of the rally in Los Angeles in Game 3 of the NLDS.

Initially, I thought that too little time was spent on Endy's catch in Game 7. I don't feel that way now. In the larger scheme of things, there is a great deal of time spent on Game 7 of the NLCS, beginning with Willie talking about his mood, and shots of the crowd before the game, and the atmosphere in the ballpark. The Catch is given fair coverage within the action of the game itself, and shown from several angles (and not set to Joe Buck). The ending is handled tastefully. No nudity. No shots of Cardinals celebrating. There's a simple shot of the scoreboard with Beltran at bat, and a fade to black, followed by LoDuca in the dugout, talking about how he made sure to watch what was going on, so he could remember it.

Now, I don't know if it's because they didn't want to end on a down note, and that could have been avoided by simply going back and giving a final recap of the regular season, and the division championship, and ending the DVD, but, instead, there's another 5-7 minutes of Reyes, Wright and Maine in their tour of Japan, doing well. It annoyed me, more than anything else, because anyone watching is bound to think, "Well, why didn't they do that when it mattered?!" After going through the entire season, it was really overkill.

The extras are great. There's some nice footage from the Division Championship and NLDS victory celebrations (including a classic shot of Jeff Wilpon dumping a bottle of champagne on Wright, then shoving the bottle down the back of Wright's jersey), a short recap of the Walkoff victories (although some are omitted--where's the Woodward sac fly against the Giants?), a spanish-language feature of Beltran and Delgado, and an overview of Citi Field.

So, I'll give it 4 stars out of 5 (where the '86 video is a 5/5 and the 2000 video is a 4.5/5). I'd recommend buying it, but try to get it on E-Bay or somewhere else online, where it will be markedly less than if you bought it from the Mets website or at Shea.

1 comment:

G-Fafif said...

I would buy highlight videos from 1992 and 2002. They'd be very inexpensive given the very little tape would have to be expended on them.

I miss the obligatory highlight film, how they hyped terrible Mets teams, how they emphasized how great Helmet Day is, how they indulged in cheesecake video of Mrs. Jim McAndrew. I loved the names, all of them blindly optimistic: "Excitement '77" or "Here Come The Kids" or "Expressway to the Big Leagues" (that last one is real). It was total effing propaganda and it filled many a rain delay quite happily.

Things began to change with the MTV era and the real winner, in my mind, was the video that predated the '86 effort, "No Surrender" about the '85 Mets. It was a more thrilling if not as successful season so the tension in the video was palpable. It was narrated by Tim McCarver from before he became the Tim McCarver we can't stand today and, like its successor, included honest-to-goodness Met music videos.

Keith Hernandez as Patty Smyth and Scandal's "The Warrior".

The Blues Brothers "Messing With The Kid" retrofitted for Gary Carter.

The brilliant use of "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield to illustrate the Doctor K phenomenon ("...and they're carrying signs/mostly saying 'hooray for our side'" over footage of K cards).

"No Mercy" for a sweep of the defending division champion of Cubs.

Gads, I'm getting excited just thinking about it again. It was such a perfect season (save for not winning) and the video was synched beautfiully to it. Too bad they don't pay for music rights anymore.

Re: 1999 and 2000 -- Both were welcome additions to our baseball library but '99 revised history (nothing about Olerud) and '00 was overproduced, but had the good sense to limit the World Series to Game Three.

I like '06's but need to drill it into my head a few more times before being decisively enthusiastic or picky about it.