Well, we have arrived at the place we never want to see: the dark abyss of the offseason. The World Series is over, and while the events of Game 7 were incredibly thrilling, it only adds to the pain of being without baseball until spring.
Fortunately, as Yankees fans, there have been so many incredible moments in the team’s history that have been documented in various films, videos, etc. It may not be the same as live baseball, but there are plenty of options to hold you over as the cold months of the offseason approach.
So brace yourselves: winter is coming, but we have a list of what to watch to endure the pain. Let’s count down to the cream of the crop.
ESPN’s The Bronx is Burning miniseries
A major positive for this series is that there are eight episodes, which will be enough for a solid weekend binge. The show created by the minds of ESPN chronicle the circus that was the 1977 Yankees, along with events happening in the Bronx outside of the ballpark. Eventually, it all came together to produce an entertaining championship.
Actors like John Turturro help make this series a winner, not to mention a heavy dose of The Ramones on the show’s soundtrack never hurt anybody. Its 7.9 out of 10 review on IMDB seems fair, and is a must watch for any Yankees fan.
Secret: The episodes are all on YouTube right now. Be discrete.
Billy Crystal’s 61*
I’m sure we have all taken the time to watch this movie, but it could never hurt to watch again. Thomas Jane and Barry Pepper give fantastic portrayals of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and their quest for history in 1961. The movie is powerful enough to make you want to jump through the television and give Maris (or Pepper) a big hug for all he endured during a time where his success should have been universally celebrated. The movie itself has been universally celebrated, currently holding a score of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.
HBO Documentary: DJ3K
We can all agree that we want to know more about Derek Jeter, given how he spent his 20 year career hiding in plain sight, constantly being in the public eye without allowing us to see much of anything about his personal life. DJ3K does its best to go behind the scenes of the life of Derek Jeter leading up to his historic 3,000th hit. We get some nice footage of Jeter rehabbing in Tampa, and eating at his house with a large group of friends, all building up to some solid on-the-field sounds of the game that we will never forget. It was a well done documentary that can also be found on YouTube (for now).
Yankeeography Seasons 1-5
Of course, you are free to watch all the seasons of this Emmy Award-winning show, but these seasons were when the show was at its peak. Yankeeography has great potential for riding out the offseason because of just how many episodes are available, which will certainly eat up some time. It should not be forgotten that there is plenty of quality to be found in the quantity of episodes that the show provides, as John Sterling narrates the lives and careers of countless Yankee legends. The best ones to start with would be Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly, and Paul O’Neill.
2003 ALCS: A Rivalry Renewed
This entire video is awesome. There’s not much else to say. “A Rivalry Renewed” goes deeper into the epic 2003 ALCS, while looking back at what contributed to the greatest rivalry in sports. Watching this will surely make you wish you could hop in a time machine and travel back to October of 2003, and relive the unparalleled intensity of the series, all the way up to Aaron Boone stepping in to face Tim Wakefield. Check it out on your friendly neighborhood YouTube.
MLB Productions: 2001 World Series Video
Quick disclaimer before I’m crucified by those reading this: I do remember how this series ended. However, this video does a terrific job of covering not just the World Series, but the Yankees’ road to getting there. Good luck fighting off goosebumps when the Yankees are first introduced in the video, and highlights of their last four World Series pop up on the screen, before going into the events of 9/11 and what the Yankees meant to the city at the time.
This video also captures the atmosphere of the fourth and fifth games of the World Series beautifully, doing great justice to the miracles in the Bronx. Game 7 was an all-time classic that you can watch if you like, but if you are like me and wish to spare yourself the pain, a good place to stop this video is at Bob Brenly’s press conference after the game five madness.
(Also for 2001, HBO’s “Nine Innings From Ground Zero” is another must-watch. I’m sure you know where to find it by now (YouTube)).
Season of Their Lives
With all due respect to Cubs fans and some of the writers reacting to their World Series win, they are certainly not the greatest team ever. If you want to look back on the best to ever play the game, check out “Season of Their Lives.” It is a tough find nowadays, mainly only on VHS format, but Al Trautwig narrates the Yankees’ 1998 season from Opening Day to the final out of the World Series in San Diego.
The film does a terrific job chronicling the ALCS against Cleveland, when the Yankees’ hopes rode on the shoulders of El Duque while trailing 2-1 in the series. We all know the rest, but it is a fantastic way to revisit the greatest team in baseball history.
And the top priority for the offseason...MLB Productions: 1996 World Series Video
I can watch this video 1,996 times. To be honest, I probably have by now. Len Cariou narrates the story of the 1996 postseason, and wonderfully covers the team that started a dynasty. There are so many aspects to this video that perfectly capture the tone of the series. David Cone’s Game 3 performance, Jim Leyritz’s Game 4 heroics, the Andy Petite/John Smoltz duel, the third inning of Game 6, you name it. If it had anything to do with the 96 World Series, it’s in this video.
It’s an old school style of course, but the musical score, the interviews, and the fan reaction shots are all done well. It’s one of the best ways to spend an hour when you’re longing for some baseball. And guess what?! It’s on YouTube (so is 2009 World Series film, for that matter).
Of course, when you’re done with all of these, you can do what I do and ride a YouTube wave through highlights of all the greatest Yankees moments of the past two decades. Every time you finish one highlight, there is a related video of another highlight that you can’t leave unwatched.