Eight Men Out

Eight Men Out Analysis

The political dimension of the Chicago Black Sox scandal took a decided shift to the left in the hands of filmmaker John Sayles. The filmmaker noted for his political liberalism heightened the sociological issues behind the decision of the ballplayers to throw the 1919 World Series by making a direct connection between the ethical values of White Sox owner Charles Comiskey and the underworld gangsters responsible for bankrolling the “fix” as a whole castigation of the moral foundation of capitalism. The novel upon which Sayles based his examination of baseball and capitalism is Eliot Asinof’s Eight Men Out and the moral foundation upon which the author draws parallels is the Bible. In the hands of Asinof, the story of the White Sox collusion and collaboration to lose the 1919 World Series on purpose is an ironic inversion of the story of David versus Goliath.

Rather than concentrating upon larger socio-political issues at play in terms of an ideological struggle over the always unfair balance of power between minority ownership and majority labor, Asinof incorporates economic themes into a much broader palette of good versus evil. Make no mistake: Asinof does not attempt the impossible task of coming to the rescue of the legacy of Charles Comiskey. Comiskey in the novel is one of the many elements of the ownership class that make up the Goliath against which the Black Sox players will battle in vain. The underlying message of Asinof’s novel (and Sayles’ film adaptation, although the point is made less starkly clear as a result of his more ambition scope) is simple and eloquent: the teammates not in on the conspiracy and playing their hearts out for the glory of winning the World’s Championship never had a chance because they were doomed from the start because “the fix was in.”

Just as all the members of the White Sox and most other players on most other teams never had a real shot at getting everything they were deserved or promised because they were doomed from the start because “the fix was in.”

What Asinof reveals in his novel is that in the world of capitalist economics where the overwhelming bulk of power lies in the hands of the owners and the structure supporting the industry is dictated toward supporting their interests over the interests of their workers, David never have a hope in hell of taking down Goliath because “the fix was in" to keep Eight Men Out.

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