[7 May 2007]
“Oh, Mets, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” No, these lines are not excerpts from a new baseball-themed Valentine’s Day card. They are, however, a more fitting title for the new Mets DVD than the name that was actually chosen: The Team. The Time. The 2006 Mets. This DVD appears in the guise of a documentary, but viewers should not be fooled. Actually, it is an hour-and-a-half-long, unapologetic love letter to a team that was certainly endearing, but not completely worthy of enshrinement.
On The Team. The Time. The 2006 Mets, narrator Tim Robbins tells the tale of a group of men who came from nothing to ascend to the pinnacle of their sport. Actually, the Mets really didn’t come from nothing because they made a trip to the World Series in 2000. And technically, they didn’t ascend to the top of Major League Baseball because the St. Louis Cardinals halted their playoff run in the National League Championship Series. The 2006 Mets’ real accomplishments were dominating the National League during the regular season, snapping the Atlanta Braves’ 14-year division winning streak, and being a genuinely likeable group of players. The disc presents these highlights faithfully, but viewers will wonder if these accomplishments really warrant documentary coverage.
The Mets DVD follows a fairly standard narrative formula. First it shows how all the pieces of the 2006 team fell into place by documenting the arrival of manager Willie Randolph, and shows acquisitions of key players such as Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. Next, it presents an extended recap of the 2006 season. This retrospective focuses on individual and team accomplishments, such as Jose Reyes hitting for the cycle and the entire Mets team scoring 11 runs in one half inning.
The middle of the DVD includes coverage of the 2006 All-Star game, in which six Mets set a team record by starting for the National League squad. In typical rosy glasses, Mets-centric fashion, the documentary presents third baseman David Wright’s second-inning homerun as the highlight of the contest and makes no mention at all of the fact that the National League team actually lost in a close game. After the recap of the 2006 season, which ended in a heartbreaking game 7 loss at home in the NLCS, the DVD concludes with off-season footage and interviews with players and broadcasters who are surprisingly unconcerned with the Mets recent losses and overwhelmingly assured of the team’s potential for future success.
The Mets playoff defeat at the hands of the Cardinals yielded one of the most poignant images from the 2006 baseball season and a scene that is notably absent from the new DVD. During the postgame television coverage of the seventh game, a camera zoomed in on a father and his son. Both of these crushed Mets fans had tears in their eyes. This shot gave viewers everywhere the chance to consider the father and son’s disappointment. The boy’s despondency seemed simple: his favorite team had lost in a crucial game. The father’s sadness seemed more complex.
Obviously, it was the pain of a man who had spent a few hundred dollars on playoff tickets in the hopes of making a memory for his family but ended up holding a weeping child in his arms. In a strange way, the father also seemed to mirror his son’s simple dejection in the squandered dreams he held for his favorite team. A better documentary would examine such disappointment and explore the complex response of both fans and players to the Mets’ shortcomings. As it stands, The Team. The Time. The 2006 Mets is too unquestioningly optimistic to be effective.
If the Mets DVD lacks the emotional impact that would help endear it to a general audience, it does at least have a handful of cool extras for baseball fans. In addition to the main feature, it includes clips of the Mets’ 2006 walk-off hits and footage from the final plays of both the division-clinching game and the National League Division Series. It also includes a narrated virtual tour of CitiField, the new Mets stadium that is due to open in 2009. Two bonus features should strongly appeal to Spanish-speaking fans, Mets broadcaster Juan Alicea delivers a narration track in Spanish, while the feature Sabor a Béisbol follows the community activity of Beltran and Delgado. The only problem with Sabor is that it does not come with subtitles for viewers who don’t speak Spanish.
In the end, The Team. The Time. The 2006 Mets is nothing more than a tribute to an exciting, fun baseball team. That’s all it really has to be. Diehard Mets fans will love the chance it provides them to relive the highlights of their season and see their favorite players in action. Other baseball fans would probably enjoy watching the DVD, but they probably won’t add it to their personal collections. Anyone else will, and probably should, ignore the documentary. Unfortunately, had the documentary’s producers employed a more balanced approach, they might have created a film to interest everyone and give an honest insight into one of the most skillful and thrilling brands of baseball in the Major Leagues.