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USA Home Video presents
Major League Baseball: All Century Team (2000)

"Twice in Ruth's career, he hit more home runs than any team in the league. I think that'sthe most benumbing statistic in any sport."
- Kenneth Schouler, senior editor of Total Sports

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: October 21, 2000

Stars: Bob Costas
Other Stars: Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Bob Gibson, Cy Young, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth, HankAaron, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Jr, Lou Gehrig, Mark McGwire, Jackie Robinson, Rogers Hornsby, Cal Ripken Jr, ErnieBanks, Honus Wagner, Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson
Director: Uncredited

Manufacturer: Crush Digital Video
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:09:55
Release Date: October 10, 2000
UPC: 696306011026
Genre: sports


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BB-B B+

DVD Review

More than any other sport, baseball is inextricably tied to both statistics and a sense of history. WithMajor League Baseball's new release of the All-Century Team DVD, we get a heapinghelping of both, presented in a compact program chock full of interviews and actual gamefootage.

In 1999, a group of baseball historians selected the top 100 players of the 20th century from the14,000 men who have played in the major leagues. From that list, fans voted on the top players ofthe century at each position. The resulting team was unveiled at the 1999 All-Star game at FenwayPark in Boston. This program includes interviews with the players themselves, as well as with theirteammates, opponents and coaches, game excerpts, portions of hall of fame inductance speeches andother materials. Bob Costas gives a capable narration to bridge segments, but wisely stays out of theway most of the time and lets the players talk for themselves.

The admiration that the players have for each other is obvious in this show; most revered of all livingplayers is Ted Williams, who gets a substantial amount of screen time both on his own andcommenting on other players. It's nice to see the younger players showing an appreciation for thehistory of the game and being conscious of the significance of the achievements of those who've gonebefore. The inclusion of active players seems questionable, especially in light of the awful seasonsthat Ken Griffey Jr. has had recently; it's hard to get a solid perspective on players while they'restill active, which is probably why you can't get into the Hall of Fame while you're stillplaying.

A few of the oldest players, such as Cy Young and Christy Mathewson, unfortunately areunrepresented by film footage (though a brief shot of Young throwing on the side of an old-timers'game is included). Surely there must be some film somewhere of Young pitching before hisretirement in 1911.

My most serious objection to the program is the brevity of the show; a mere 70 minutes is not nearlyenough to do justice to these 30 men. Thankfully, a substantial amount of bonus footage is includedwhich makes the program much more substantial—see the Extras section below for a discussion of this othermaterial.

The best part of the program is the well-selected game footage, where we see Lou Gehrig tearingaround the base paths; McGwire pounding homer after homer out of the park; Walter Johnson'sdeceptively easygoing pitching style and the incredibly aggressive style of Pete Rose. This,better than anything else, helps make clear why these 30 men are the greatest in their field over thecentury.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: USA has done what it could with the source materials; since we're talking about nearly a century ofmaterial of varying quality, the image ranges from excellent to iffy. Surprisingly, some of the worstfootage comes from the 1970s and 1980s, because much of the older material was shoton film, whereas the later game footage only exists on lower-quality videotape. The bit rates during gameexcerpts run about 8 to 9 Mbps, squeezing whatever amount of quality can be extracted fromthem.

During the interview segments, the blacks are excellent, and colors are quite good throughout theprogram. The black and white footage of Ruth and Gehrig is crisp and clear; the older films of WalterJohnson are in somewhat rough shape but still good. During the bonus materials of the Fenway Parkceremony at the All-Star game, there is significant grain and major artifacting visible, apparently froma digital videotape source.

Rear-projection TV owners be warned: there is a major league baseball logo visible onscreenthroughout all portions of the program. While not bright, it still may well pose a burn-in hazard. Thisis a very serious fault of the presentation and reduces the grade from B+ to B-.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono soundtrack is adequate for the purposes of the program. The sound on the historicalsegments is predictably hissy and noisy, but not objectionably so. The audio is perfectly acceptablefor the subject matter of the program.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 31 cues and remote access
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. 110 minutes of bonus footage
  2. Statistical points of interest
  3. Top 100 players of the 20th Century and ceremony from 1999 All-Star Game
  4. All-Century Team ceremony and pre-ceremony footage
  5. Weblink to http://www.majorleaguebaseball.com
Extras Review: The primary extra is 110 minutes of additional interviews and game footage. This bonus material is,however, well-hidden and difficult to navigate through. In order to find it, one must go to thesections of the main menu entitled Infielders, Pitchers and Catchers andOutfielders. From there, each player must be selected individually. One then gets access tothe additional materials for each player, usually broken out into 3 or 4 sections. Unfortunately, thereis no way that I've found to be able to play all of the bonus material at once, so keep the remotehandy at all times. For most players, other than Young and Mathewson, we get 3 or 4 minutes ofextra material that doesn't repeat the main program. Alas, Cy and Christy only get a listing of some of their statistical accomplishments. A similar screen of statistical goodies is provided for allof the other players.

There is also a ten-minute program on the top 100 players and excerpts from the ceremony at FenwayPark honoring them. A similar ceremony for the All-Century team is included as well. Oneof the niftiest extras is a four-minute clip of the players in the green room before the latter ceremony;there we see the mutual admiration in its clearest form, as the players swap stories. This is a heart-warming sight that's truly pleasing to see—I wish more had been included.

Finally, there is a weblink to Major League Baseball's website.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

The bonus footage makes this a complete package that any baseball fanwould be happy to have. The disc is a good overview of the greatest players that the game has everknown, though it left me wanting still more. Highly recommended.

 


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