SEPTEMBER 19, 2005
Fever Pitch, the Red Sox Collector’s Edition DVD
By Steve Lombardi,

I'm a fan of the New York Yankees – and have been since 1973. Actually, the word "fan" is too mild. The word "zealot" is more appropriate. Yankees baseball is a serious item on my daily agenda – just about everyday of every year.

As such, Yankees failures usually hit me very hard. For example, when the Yankees lost the 2001 World Series on November 4, 2001, I could not tolerate watching one single replay of that World Series. For days, I avoided all my usual cable haunts, such as ESPN and FOX Sports, in order to ensure what I saw that evening would not be repeated before my eyes. And, this was not just for days – it was boycott that I held fast for six weeks. 

Like I said, I find Yankees disappointments to be painful and warranting an immediate and permanent mental-palate cleansing (when possible).

Therefore, you can imagine my reaction when approached to review Fever Pitch, the Red Sox Collector’s Edition DVD, which was released on September 13, 2005.

This is a film where one of the main characters is a devout Boston Red Sox fan and the story takes place during the 2004 season (where the Sox defeated the Yankees and went on to win the World Series).

Why in the world would I want to watch this DVD? Would someone who just lost a beloved pet want to watch My Dog Skip a few months after? Would someone just bitten by a shark want to run out and watch Jaws?

However, while watching the trailer for Fever Pitch (in order to determine if this was something that I could review), I saw something that caught my attention. Watching the clip, I laughed out-loud at a few of the scenes - as they were very close to some real moments from my own baseball-fan life.

This discovery was actually in line with something that my father-in-law mentioned to me after he saw Fever Pitch (when it was released in theaters). At the time, he recommended the movie to me and said that I would enjoy it if I substituted anything “Red Sox” with “Yankees” because the male lead was a character that I could relate to as a fellow baseball diehard. I replied with something along the lines of “I’d rather have root canal and a colonoscopy at the same time while reading an IRS Tax Guide than watch the Red Sox win again, even if it just in a movie.”

Still, now, factoring this all together, I decided to give Fever Pitch on DVD a try.

Of course, I took the requisite preparatory measures. Just as the DVD started to play, I said to myself “Babe, Bucky, Boone” and inhaled as hard as I could – and held that gulp of air as long as I could - until I had to gasp for another breath. And, I made sure that some Yankees-related books were on the end table by my side while I watched the DVD – just in case an active volcano suddenly and unexpectedly sprouted out of the ground, smothering me in lava, and freezing my last moments for all eternity. Heaven forbid that I be found by some archaeologist a century from now and be confused for being a member of Red Sox Nation.

After all, you always have to cover your bases, no?

In any event, after watching Fever Pitch, the Red Sox Collector’s Edition DVD, to be totally candid, I must share that I am glad that I watched it.

My father-in-law was correct.  This is a film that a diehard fanatic of a team can appreciate as it depicts so many moments that we all share and emotions that we all have inside us - again, as fanatics of a particular team.

Personally, I found one item in the story to be extremely uncanny as to how close it was to my own life.  Back in 1990, when I went on the first date with the woman who would subsequently become my bride, I did something that many would find bizarre - but, wanting to be different and being a baseball nut, it made sense to me.  I took one of my old baseball magazines from the 1970's and cut out a picture of Pete Rose.  After picking up my beloved to start our evening, as we were in my car, I handed her the picture of Pete Rose and said "Here, I wanted to give you a Rose on this special night."  And, in Fever Pitch, there's a scene where the character played by Jimmy Fallon sends an e-mail to the character played by Drew Barrymore, in which it reads "I wanted to send you a dozen roses" and then you see twelve images of Pete Rose pop up on her computer screen.  

I nearly fell off my chair when I saw that scene.  It was as if the writers knew my life story.  And, there are many other fun-baseball-nut scenes in the movie (like when season tickets arrive) where baseball fans will see themselves in action. 

Continuing to be fair, I will state that I found the lead actor, Jimmy Fallon, to be somewhat stiff in his performance.  Nonetheless, the points that Fever Pitch aims to convey do not suffer from Fallon's shortcomings as an actor.

In a nutshell, Fever Pitch is a good choice for a serious baseball fan of a team looking for a movie to watch one night with their significant other.  There are many worse ways to spend 103 minutes most evenings.  It's not Academy Awards material - far from it.  But, there are enough moments in the story that will make you laugh out loud that will provide for the return on your investment.

If you want another source on Fever Pitch, take my wife's word.  Consider that she's been living the other side of this type of story for the last 16 years.  She watched the DVD with me - albeit without the need for the aforementioned requisite preparatory measures that I employed.  She also laughed at many moments in the story that struck way to close to home.  When the movie ended, I asked her "So, honest opinion, pull no punches, what did you think of it?"  And, she replied with "It was cute."

Now, that's not a word that I'm predisposed to throw around unless I'm taking about kids and puppies.  Nonetheless, in this case, I'm more than happy to borrow it.  Fever Pitch is a cute movie.  As a Yankees fan, I never thought that would be my conclusion.  But, that is my ultimate finding.  As such, I would recommend this DVD.   It's a story that baseball fans will find enjoyable.  And, if you're a fellow Yankees fan, don't be afraid to check it out.  In fact, while the story does unfold during the pain of 2004, there's enough Red Sox fan historical torment on display as well to offset some of that pinstriped unpleasantness.  It will be O.K.  I survived.  I even had fun.

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