Eight Men Out Essay

2132 words - 9 pages

Eight Men Out In the golden days of baseball, where the heros became legends and young fans could actually afford to pay to attend the games, an incident that would scar baseball for life was committed in the World Series of 1919. Based on the Elliot Asinof's 1963 best-seller of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, Eight Men Out is an attempt to tell the story of how the White Sox were hired by gamblers to throw World Series. Film maker John Sayles brings in a variety of well- known actors to play roles of players, gamblers, and everyone else that is involved in the scandal. However, the movie concentrates more on the events leading up to the scandal and the personalities of the characters, and overlooks minor, but extremely important, details that leave any avid baseball fan questioning it consistency. Bill James, in his Historical Baseball Abstract, makes very clear the underlying problems with making a movie about the Black Sox Scandal. James, as well as many others, feels as though the problems with making a movie about that topic is that it engages the emotions of the audience. He points out that, "Unlike a book, a movie is more of something you experience than learn about, and as such, for a movie to work, one must, as a viewer, share in the experience of one of the characters" (pg.108). Since this story is about ballplayers who threw games and accepted bribes, this poses a difficult problem in asking the audience to share the feelings of the conspirators. That is the problem throughout the movie that Sayles fails to resolve. Where do the audience's sympathies lie? It is hard to maintain sympathy for the players with the likes of Swede Risberg and Chic Gandil behind the fix. Players like Buck Weaver and "Shoeless Joe Jackson", who are portrayed as pawns in a game of chess, are overwhelmed by the gamblers and other players involved. One could say that Sayles sees the team members as underpaid and unappreciated by team owner Charles Comiskey, and the results of the tension that existed between the players and the owner was the fixing of the 1919 Series. Sayles shows us the individual players going all out, running hard, dive for balls, stretching doubles into triples, and risking injury to win the pennant. The mood quickly changes as the players being ecstatic, having won the pennant, turning to anger and malcontent after their promised bonus turns out to be flat champagne. Sayles emphasizes the dissention between Comiskey and the players by staging a scene between pitcher Eddie Cicotte and the cold owner. Cicotte, on a technicality, is not given the $10,000 bonus he was to receive for winning 30 games. Cicotte in fact only won 29 games, and implies that Comiskey purposely benched him so he couldn't win 30. Sayles's sympathy for Cicotte is clear in the movie when Ring Lardner (played by Sayles himself) responds to Comiskey's praise of his players by stating, "If he is such a fan, why doesn't he pay them a...

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