Eight Men Out

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today’s book was suggested by Matt who requested that I read this book for Opening Day. Unfortunately, the person who checked the book out from the library before me liked the book so much that they decided to keep it several weeks past it’s due date. So, sorry for the delay Matt.

Today’s book; "The headlines proclaimed the 1919 fix of the World Series and attempted cover-up as "the most gigantic sporting swindle in the history of America!" First published in 1963, Eight Men Out has become a timeless classic. Eliot Asinof has reconstructed the entire scene-by-scene story of the fantastic scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players arranged with the nation's leading gamblers to throw the Series in Cincinnati. Mr. Asinof vividly describes the tense meetings, the hitches in the conniving, the actual plays in which the Series was thrown, the Grand Jury indictment, and the famous 1921 trial. Moving behind the scenes, he perceptively examines the motives and backgrounds of the players and the conditions that made the improbable fix all too possible. Here, too, is a graphic picture of the American underworld that managed the fix, the deeply shocked newspapermen who uncovered the story, and the war-exhausted nation that turned with relief and pride to the Series, only to be rocked by the scandal. Far more than a superbly told baseball story, this is a compelling slice of American history in the aftermath of World War I and at the cusp of the Roaring Twenties."
Thoughts on today's book:
  • I was a little bit nervous about reading today’s book - because I don’t like sports at all - in fact, the sound of sports on TV makes me feel like I’m losing the will to live. So I approached today’s book with a trepidation, fully expecting to be bored out of my mind by it. I’m happy to report that I was wrong - I really liked the book. Maybe it’s because baseball is the only sport I understand. Actually, understand might be too strong of a word in this case - it’s the only sport that I’m totally confused by. I was that kid in gym class standing in the middle of class, getting hit by the ball, while whining, "I don’t know how to play this game." Baseball was the only game I could play without embarrassing myself.
  • I found the story itself fascinating, but I think in the hands of the wrong writer I wouldn’t have enjoyed the story as much. I appreciate the way the author presented both sides of things. Some authors would have tried to paint the whole story as being completely black-and-white, or to turn it into a sermon (I can’t stand those kind of books). But instead, the author presents both sides, and so I walked away from the book feeling like I could understand both the outrage of the fans who felt duped (and justifiably so) and also the anger and frustration of those who threw the game (who were so clearly being taken advantage of by the team owner, Charles Comisky, who not only paid his team less than half of what lesser teams were paid, but often backed out of the deals he made with players in regards to bonuses, and it was written into the players contracts that if they didn't sign with the team again next year they wouldn't be able to play for any other team in the league) .
This entry is going to have to be shorter than I had intended (sorry dear readers), because I just have the patience to fight with my computer anymore. And, looking at the clock, I’m feeling very happy (and surprised) that I did actually manage to get this entry up before midnight.