NEW YORK METS 50TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTORS SET – DVD Review

Grandmom always told me that if you don’t have anything nice to say about somebody, don’t say anything at all. So enough about the Mets, and on to the details of the “Mets 50th Anniversary Collector’s DVD Set.”

The collector’s set is designed to resemble a long, rectangular coffee table book with 24 fold out “pages” that are actually thick cardboard sleeves with historical blurbs and many player photographs. The book is, of course, heavy on a blue-white color scheme. The ten discs in the set are tucked into various pages of the book ((see more in the Extras section about this.)

DISC ONE: Season Highlight Films: 1963 (28 min.), 1969 (26 min.), 1973 (29 min.)

These season highlight films are usually pretty routine affairs, but this 1963 one represents some kind of landmark achievement in the field, poised somewhere between camp and the avant-garde. The hilarity begins with a woman proclaiming, “I am a Mets fan and my children are a Mets fan.” The poor lady looks absolutely terrified, as if she was being threatened with season tickets. Soon the narrator teaches everyone a lesson in priorities, “To the Mets fan, winning is important, but not out of proportion to the fun of the game.”

General manager George Weiss is proud of his 1963 team’s improvement on the franchise’s inaugural season when they set a modern record with 120 losses. The proud papa brags, “In 78 of the games, the decision was not final until the 8th inning!” The right product for the right fans.

Somewhere past the ten minute mark, we finally meet some players, and the first batch of them is introduced with their primary selling point, “They all played with major league teams before coming to the Mets.” Later a group of youngsters including Ed Kranepool explains the reason they signed with the Mets:  it was a guarantee they’d get to the majors quickly. Or at least to the Mets. Finally, manager Casey Stengel rounds things out by acknowledging that he sometimes forgets to watch the game because he’s looking at all the great signs in the stands.

The other two highlight films may involve World Series play, but they’re nowhere near as entertaining.

DISC TWO: 1969 World Series Film (40 min.), 1986 World Series Film (30 min.)

The disc also includes “An Amazin’ Era” (98 min.), a 1987 program designed to commemorate the Mets’ 25th Anniversary. It covers all the usual bases and with only a quarter century of material, it gets into more detail than programs like this usually do.

DISC THREE: Season Highlight Films: 1978 (27 min.), 1988 (30 min.), 1990 (39 min.)

DISC FOUR: Millennium Mets: The 2000 Season in Review (41 min.) and The Team, The Time, The 2006 New York Mets (63 min.)

The chapter titles for the 2006 Mets are quite amusing: Optimism, Heart, Chemistry. For some reason, the 2007 followup is not included: Choke,  Seriously I’m Choking Get Help, and WTF?

DISC FIVE: 1969 World Series Game 3 – Oct 14, 1969

MLB has provided the choice between the Television Play-by-Play and the Mets’ Radio Call as audio options.

This is a pretty random choice of WS games to include. Gary Gentry delivered a strong performance as the Mets beat the Orioles and Jim Palmer 5-0 in a very uneventful game to take a 2-1 series lead.

DISC SIX: 1986 NLCS Game 6

This makes a little more sense. In one of the better NLCS games ever played, the Mets scored three in the ninth against the Astros to send it into extra innings. Lots of them, as it took 16 innings for the Mets to lock down the game and a World Series berth. Roger McDowell pitched 5 scoreless innings of relief, showing that the “old” days weren’t really that long ago.

DISC SEVEN: 1986 World Series Game 6

Buckner.

DISC EIGHT: 2000 NLCS Game 5

You can choose to listen to either the Television Play-by-Play or the Mets’ Radio Call.

This was the clincher, but it was a pretty boring game. Mike Hampton tossed a shutout as the Mets blew out the Cardinals 7-0 to win the NLCS 4-1 and to win the opportunity to get crushed by the Yankees in the Series.

DISC NINE: Mets vs. Braves – Sep 21, 2001

This was the first major sporting event played in New York after the 9/11 attacks. This broadcast includes the lengthy pre-game ceremony that acknowledged the tragedy with nods to the military, police, firefighters and all of the victims. Mike Piazza hit a late home run to key a comeback win.

DISC TEN: New York Mets’ 50 Greatest Players (67 min.)

This is the only new program in the package.

Are there 50 great Mets’ players? Well, number fifty is Wayne Garrett, so there’s your answer. This MLB network program races through the top 50 list in 45 minutes with an extra 20 minutes of “Mets Memories” tacked on. It’s hard to argue too much with the team members, but there are some weird rankings: David Wright only at the bottom of the top ten? That’s nuts.

I lied. My grandmother never said anything about being nice; she was actually pretty ruthless. So I think it’s important to point out that this Collector’s Set is taking a big risk by not warning Mets fans about the many choking hazards inside. And no pictures of Oliver Perez or Jason Bay? Clearly an oversight. Don’t worry, though, Zack Wheeler isn’t injured yet.

Video:
Video quality obviously varies a great deal throughout the set with the earliest video looking the weakest. Some of the earlier material was obviously dubbed from low-end video copies. And even relatively recent game broadcasts aren’t exactly recorded at the highest resolution, but overall the video is at least acceptable for every disc.

Audio:
Every now and then you’ll find you have to crank up the volume for one of the programs where the audio is mixed mysteriously low, but generally there aren’t any significant problems.

For the 1969 World Series Game 3 (Disc 5) and the 2000 NLCS Game 5 (Disc 8) you can choose between two audio options: the television play-by-play or the Mets’ radio call. The other games offer only the TV broadcast as an audio option.

Extras:
As described above, this set is designed to resemble a long, rectangular coffee table book with thick cardboard “pages” you can leaf through. The pages have historical blurbs and player photos, and it’s a very attractive design overall despite the constant presence of the Mets’ team logo. The book slides into a thick cardboard case with the same cover art as on the book.

However, there is one problem with the set’s design. The discs are tucked into various cardboard pages. They fit tightly and can be very tough to pull out. You will inevitably wind up scraping the discs against the cardboard sleeve, risking both scratching the DVDs and tearing the pages. You can manage it if you’re careful, but it requires some effort and you don’t want to remove them from the sleeves too often. If you’re planning on watching these discs frequently, you might want to consider storing them separately from the package.

Set Value:
That 1963 Highlight film really is hilarious. If the current Mets regime has a sense of humor, they’ll model the 2012 Highlight film the same way.

Several of the game discs (as well as the other programs, including the new “50 Greatest Players”) have already been offered in sets before and I would have to assume almost every Mets fan has the 1986 World Series Game somewhere in his or her collection. But for $99.95 full retail (and much cheaper at various online outlets) you certainly get plenty of content (over 23 hours) and a box set that will look very nice as a gift for the Mets fan still trying to convince himself that Daniel Murphy can lead them to the promised land.

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