Studio: A+E Networks
Review by: Jon DePaolis
All cards on the table, I absolutely hate it when people deem something an instant classic. I hate it when ESPN pushes product by calling a first-round playoff basketball game an instant classic just because it goes to overtime. No, a classic gets its status because it changes the way someone views a sport or is so superior to anything anyone has seen in recent memory.
So take heed when I write, as much as it pains this Cubs fan’s heart to write, Game 6 of the 2011 World Series is an instant classic. And the fine folks at Major League Baseball Productions agree, as they have already packaged Game 6 as an addition to its “Baseball’s Greatest Games” series with A+E Networks.
The ninth inning of the World Series is undoubtedly the most stressful situation in all of professional sports – maybe with the exception of the last putt at Augusta on a Sunday afternoon. Those three outs, no matter what the lead, will always be the most frustratingly stressful three outs a fan will ever experience.
And the Texas Rangers had to go through that twice in one game. Hell, the Texas Rangers had the St. Louis Cardinals down to their last strike twice. What makes this game an instant classic is that the Cardinals’ would not be denied.
The hero of this story is David Freese. The Cardinals’ third baseman had a history of getting injured and underperforming — at least until the 2011 postseason. Freese was fresh off a National League Championship Series MVP award, and with his team down two runs in the bottom of the ninth and down to their last out, Freese delivered.
With two on, Freese belted a 1-2 pitch to the right field wall off of Texas closer Neftali Feliz to tie the game on a triple.
Both teams scored two runs in the tenth inning. It only makes sense that in the bottom of the eleventh, Freese would have a chance to again make history.
This time, he was facing Mark Lowe — a pitcher who had only one inning of work in more than a month. Up 3-0 in the count, Lowe’s pitch went high, but the umpire called it a strike. The crowd at Busch Stadium in St. Louis groaned. You can’t blame them. They didn’t know what was coming next.
After fouling off a 3-1 pitch, Freese connected on a deep drive to center field. The crowd knew it was gone right away, as fans stumbled from their seats to the open grass patch in centerfield to try and retrieve the home run. Freese had twice thwarted the Texas Rangers and kept them from winning their first franchise World Series.
With all the excitement, it is easy to forget that there was a Game 7. Freese’s heroics sent the series to a somewhat anti-climactic finale, as the Cardinals went on to win. But this game certainly capped off one of the most exciting post-seasons in baseball history, and as such, it deserves the “instant classic” designation.
For the home video release, which fans can get on Blu-ray and DVD, fans can view every inning of the broadcast from Fox. Fans can also watch a short pregame segment from the Fox team of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. The post game was taken from MLB Network and features commentary from Brian Kenny and Dan Plesac. The release also includes interviews with Freese and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa after the game.
The best feature, however, is that fans can play the hometown radio broadcasts from Texas or St. Louis with the Fox broadcast.
Ultimately, fans of the game will appreciate this release. One feature that I wish it had had is be an audio commentary with either Freese or La Russa going over what each was thinking at big moments in the game. It would have added a unique dimension to the story, given its significance and rabid fan interest in the sport. If someone is likely to buy this, it is likely they would also appreciate that insight into the game.
For more info, www.aenetworks.com
Pads & Panels received a copy of the Blu-ray courtesy of the studio for review purposes.