There has, over the past couple of months, been a rather large influx of Mets DVDs hitting the market. Of course, by rather large, I mean two. But where one of them, the 6-DVD "Essential Games of Shea Stadium" set has been getting all the hype, the other one, the much more useful "Shea Goodbye" DVD seems almost an afterthought.
It's not to denigrate the Essential Games set, but let's face it: Any of the 6 games included are pretty readily available by watching SNY (except for the Grand Slam Single game, but you could readily read all about that game here, and what's besides the point, it's not clear whether the DVD contains the original NBC Broadcast with Bob Costas or the awful NBC-I broadcast with Gary Thorne), and I don't know what the bonus features are like, but suffice it to say that I don't see myself plonking down $40 for that. Let's wait until the secondary market kicks in and you can find it on E-Bay for $10. You know it's coming.
Then, there's "Shea Goodbye." This one pretty much squashes the "Essential Games" set down to all the bits and pieces of the games that you really wanted to see, plus some other clips of forgotten men and forgotten moments (Steve Henderson! Joe McEwing!) and condenses the history of Shea into a rather taut 85 minutes. Rather than telling the story in a linear fashion, however, the DVD jumps from era to era and back again with regularity, encapsulating the early days of Shea and the Mets, and even the Jets, the teams of '69, '73, '86, '00 and '06, and intersperses it with some clips of great plays, great players and great moments. Special attention is paid to the Shea Experience itself, the initial fan reactions to Shea (and Bud Harrelson gushing over it), the effect of airplanes, the seasons that Shea was a 4-team stadium, and even the many concerts held at Shea, and also to several specific moments such as the Grand Slam Single, Piazza's HR after 9/11, Seaver's Imperfect game and Endy's catch.
However, there's one great, inherent flaw with this DVD, and I suppose it's a flaw in just about any team highlight DVD. If you're not a big Mets fan, or if you only have a casual interest in baseball, you won't get most of the DVD. Many things are presented in such a way that you'd only understand it if you were as nutso a Mets fan as I am (eg: The Black Cat game in 1969 is sort of dropped in as if they expect you to know what's coming, in sequence with the rest of 1969). This isn't to say that I have a problem with it; for me, and for fans like me, it's great.
There are many cameo appearances in the DVD, and not just from Mets players. There are plenty of Jets players, such as Wesley Walker and Greg Buttle who appear, WFAN's Joe Beningo (credited not from WFAN or SNY, but of Saddle River, NJ, oddly), Fred Wilpon is there, Radio DJ Pete Fornatele and, however much it may sully the credibility of the DVD, George W. Bush and Mr. Larry Wayne Jones appear as well.
The extras are solid. While the last outs of the '69 and '86 World Series are expected, the inclusion of Ventura's Grand Slam Single, Agbayani's HR, and the final outs of Bobby Jones' one-hitter and Mike Hampton's masterpiece against St. Louis in 2000 are certainly welcome additions, particularly since they are all set to the narration of Bob Murphy and Gary Cohen. The DVD itself is narrated by longtime Mets fan Matthew Broderick, which is a departure from the era of Tim Robbins' narration. Does this mean a Jerry Seinfeld-narrated film is in the works? Broderick does a fine job of telling the story without getting too schmaltzy, which is, more or less, what the DVD dissolves into by the end.
Following a brief recap that brings you to the present time, covering the Piazza era (but not Piazza's last game—and while we're on that topic, I think Piazza, for everything he meant to the team, is woefully underrepresented here) to the Reyes/Wright era, to now. Willie Randolph poignantly says a few words about looking to the future, a future which he wouldn't be around to see, ultimately, and then the closing begins, with shot after shot of players, coaches and whoever saying Goodbye to Shea, and closing with the lights going off at Shea, one by one.
So, I suppose I'd recommend that anyone who's enough of a fan to read this should probably go out and buy the DVD, but, as with any DVD, try to find it cheap. You can do it. It's a good addition to any Mets video library, although with the Mets 50th Anniversary just around the corner, I sense even more DVDs on the horizon...
My Review: 3.75/5 stars.