Eight Men Out Themes

Eight Men Out Themes


As members of a would-be champion team, the White Sox players who participate in the scandal are extremely close to one another. They are members of a team through-and-through. This is what makes their decisions such a betrayal to the other teammates. They compromise the brotherhood of the team, which must be based upon trust. With paychecks on the line, the success of the team depends at least in part upon their unity. The eight who throw the game, however, band together in opposition to Comiskey's detestable management. Even when they are found out and punished they hold each other's backs.


Eight Men Out is a story of corruption. Nobody appears to be clean. Motives play a central role in these characters' stories. Basically Comiskey has corrupted his power by mismanaging the team. He's demonstrated his untrustworthiness and willingness to manipulate the system, which signals to the team that this sort of behavior is tolerable. The eight players who throw the game clearly corrupt the honor the competition in the payment of some of the most corrupt businessmen in the country. Seemingly the throwing of the 1919 World Series resulted from a perfect storm of bad intentions on the part of everyone involved.


Speaking of motivation, the key characters in this drama are all lured by greed. According to Asinof, Comiskey seems to have first opened the team up to all these issues because of his greed. He allowed his stinginess and desire to profit from his players to cheat them out of promised bonuses, raises, etc. If you're team is playing their best season ever, now's the time to reward them. Following his example, the eight players take the first money offered to them, eager to capitalize off of their excellent season. And of course Maharg and Burns are motivated by their greed, on such a more extreme level. They've staked their careers on their willingness to do anything for a profit, making them nearly uncatchable when it's all said and done.

The Love of the Game

Baseball, as the national pastime, represents free enterprise and national unity. The fairness of the games preserves the integrity of the competition. After an extremely successful season, some of the White Sox players are willing to compromise their love of the game for monetary gain. Others are not even approached, either because they appear too committed to the game or because they aren't good enough players to influence the final outcome. Only Buck Weaver refuses the bribe, preferring to win if he can. He's playing for honor, to be the undisputed best. He appreciates the true love of the game.

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