Plot: What’s it about?
A select number of baseball players have transcended the label of player and become icons, even legends. One of those men is Cal Ripken, Jr., who would be known as The Iron Man because of his incredible record setting career. Ripken would shatter the record for consecutive games played, not only breaking the mark, but adding over five hundred games to the record. Ripken would play in 2, 632 consecutive games, a level of endurance and dedication that could stand forever. But he didn’t show up, he played hard and was one of Major League Baseball’s most skilled and popular players. He would end his career with over three thousand hits and over four hundred home runs, not to mention a reputation as a good sportsman and a genuine hero. In a time when sports figures are often in the news for negative reasons, it is a pleasure to revisit the career of a man who not only found great success on the field, but was also a role model when he left it.
This Collector’s Edition release examines five games in Ripken’s career, all toward the end of it, but still a welcome batch of memorable games. The five games included are against the California Angels (September 6, 1995), Seattle Mariners (May 28, 1996), Cleveland Indians (October 1, 1996), Atlanta Braves (June 13, 1999), and the 2001 All Star Game (July 10, 2001), all of which have memorable Ripken performances. I think fans of The Iron Man will delight in revisiting these games, especially with the slew of supplements provided. I suppose the one knock on this collection would be the narrow window shown, as Ripken had a long career and had memorable moments before 1995, of course. So while this is a good assortment of worthwhile games, it would have been nice to see some earlier ones also, to provide a fuller experience. But with five games that fans will be thrilled to own, an excellent hour long documentary, and other insightful extras, its hard to fault this release. If you’re a fan of Cal Ripken, Jr., this is an easy one, you’ll want to own this collection, no doubt.
Video: How does it look?
The games in this collection are presented in full frame, as intended. These are all fairly recent games, so they look good, but some flaws do remain from the original elements. This was then true of the original broadcast, which means they look just as you remember when you first saw them unfold. The images seem clear, with solid detail for this kind of release, while minimal softness has settled in. The colors come off as bright and natural, with little fading to be mentioned, while contrast is smooth and never gives us a reason to complain. In other words, these look better than they would on ESPN Classic, so for fans of The Iron Man, this is the best way to see these games again.
Audio: How does it sound?
There isn’t much to talk about here, basic stereo soundtracks that sound much like the original broadcast would. I found all the games to sound clear and free from errors. So the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd is as good as ever. You won’t be dazzled, but you’ll feel like you’re watching the games on a normal broadcast.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The main attraction here is Cal Ripken, Jr.: The Iron Man’s Legendary Career, an hour long piece that looks in depth into the man’s storied run in Major League Baseball. Ripken himself is on hand to discuss his career, which provides great perspective, but we also hear from numerous peers and those who would be inspired to play the game by The Iron Man. This is just a well made, fun to watch piece that Ripken fans will enjoy from start to finish. You can also check out additional interviews with Ripken and other famous baseball personalities. The other extras are footage from important moments in his career, such as the post-game celebration when he broke the consecutive games record, his 2001 All Star Game MVP performance, his 3000th hit, 400th home run, and other landmark incidents.