Eight Men Out

Eight Men Out: The Book Versus the Film

The book and subsequent film Eight Men Out both portray one of the lowest points in professional sports in American history. Popularly known as the Black Sox Scandal, it involved members of the Chicago White Sox baseball team allegedly taking money from gamblers in exchange for purposely losing the 1919 World Series. The actual events and participants in the scandal have been a source of contention ever since, with supporters of several players pointing to statistics that belie the idea some of them purposely played badly. Both the book and the movie present this story through a vast panorama of characters from three worlds: the baseball world, the newspaper world and the underworld. As a result, neither the book nor the movie contain what is traditionally considered to be a protagonist or hero. Rather, both pieces emphasize the complexity of all the characters, rather than the "good" or "evil" of one.

By virtue of his medium, an author has more time to evoke resonance and nuance than a filmmaker. Thus, it is hardly surprising that Eliott Asinof succeeds in portraying the scandal with more complexity than John Sayles can in his film. The true story behind what really happened in any actual event is always...

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