This year, watching the World Series has felt strange to me.
I love baseball so, of course, I’m going to watch. But with neither the Rangers nor the Astros playing this year, I don’t really have anything invested in who wins. The last time the Red Sox were in the series, I wanted them to win because the city was still recovering from the Boston Marathon bombing but this year, the Red Sox are the team that defeated Houston for the American League Championship. I guess I want the Dodgers to win but it feels weird to cheer for a National League team. The Red Sox are currently up 2 to 0. That doesn’t mean that the Dodgers are out of it but they’ve got some ground to make up. Luckily, they’ll be playing at home tonight.
Since there wasn’t a game last night, I watched Eight Men Out, a 1988 movie about the 1919 World Series. I love this movie.
In the 1919 World Series, the Cincinnati Reds faced off against the Chicago White Sox. The 1919 White Sox team was considered to be one of the best in the history of baseball and they entered the series of heavy favorites. When they lost 5 games to 3 (the 1919 World Series was a best of nine series), a lot of gamblers lost a ton of money but there were a few that made a fortune. Even before the series was over, there were rumors that several members of the White Sox were paid off to intentionally lose the game. The scandal grew so large that the franchise owners agreed to appoint a judge named Kennesaw Mountain Landis as the first commissioner of baseball. Eight White Sox players were accused of taking money to throw the game. Even though they were acquitted of all the criminal charges, Landis still banned all eight of them from ever again playing major league baseball. Among the players who were banned, 6 were definitely in on the fix. However, both Buck Weaver and Shoeless Joe Jackson would go to their graves insisting that they hadn’t thrown a single game.
Eight Men Out tells the story of that World Series and how the White Sox came to be known as the Black Sox. The film begins with various gamblers all approaching different players and offering them money to throw the World Series. Fed up with being taken for granted and mistreated by management, some of the players agree immediately while others, like pitcher Eddie Cicotte, are more reluctant. When the owners of the White Sox cheats Cicotte out of a bonus, Cicotte finally decides to accept the gamblers’s offer.
The best part of Eight Men Out are the scenes that contrast how the White Sox play when they’re throwing a game to how they play when they’re trying to win. Even though they’re getting paid to lose, the players are depressed and angry after a loss. When they play to win, they’re happy because they’re doing what they’re good at and they’re amazing to watch. Those scenes are what baseball are all about.
Eight Men Out is a movie that loves baseball almost as much as I do and I recommend it to anyone else who loves the game. It’s got a big cast and they’re all very good, even Charlie Sheen who plays one of the players. My favorite performances were John Mahoney’s as the disappointed White Sox manager and John Cusack’s as Buck Weaver, who does nothing wrong but suffers the worst of any of the accused players.
If you’re just not feeling the World Series this year, check out Eight Men Out.
The Real 1919 Chicago White Sox