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The great Chicago White Sox team of 1919 is the saddest team to ever win a pennant. The team is bitter at their penny pincher owner, Charles Comiskey, and at their own teammates. Gamblers take advantage of this opportunity to offer some players money to throw the series. (Most of the players didn't get as much as promised.) But Buck Weaver and the great Shoeless Joe Jackson turn back at the last minute and try to play their best. The Sox actually almost come back from a 3-1 deficit. Two years later, the truth breaks out and the Sox are sued on multiple counts. They are found innocent by the jury but baseball commissioner Landis has other plans. The eight players are suspended for life, and Buck Weaver, for the rest of his life, tries to clear his name. Written by
Patrick Lynn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film downplays Fred McMullin's role in the scandal. While the film portrays both Swede and Chick as the main ones behind the fix, it is not entirely true. McMullin threatened both Swede and Chick that he was going to go to the mob and let them know that they (meaning Swede and Chick) were having second thoughts about throwing the series. From then on, McMullian served as an unofficial liaison for the mafia. See more »
Early in the film, there is a close-up of Eddie Cicotte's right hand (Strathairn) as he is preparing the ball to throw his famous "shine ball". On the ball, the logo " Rawlings", as in the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, can clearly be seen. But in 1919, Major League Baseball exclusively used baseballs manufactured by Spalding. Major League Baseball would not switch to baseballs made by Rawlings until 1977, 58 years later. See more »
I always figured it was talent made a man big, you know, if I was the best at something. I mean, we're the guys they come to see. Without us, there ain't a ballgame. Yeah, but look at who's holding the money and look at who's facing a jail cell. Talent don't mean nothing. And where's Comiskey and Sullivan, Attell, Rothstein? Out in the back room cutting up profits, that's where. That's the damn conspiracy.
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Despite Sayles' Slants, It's A Good Baseball Story
This was a well-done account of the famous 1919 Black Sox scandal in Major League baseball many years ago. The movie features an excellent cast and does a nice job of re-creating the era. The music of period is effectively used here, too, as are the interior and exterior of the ballpark.
The most memorable players seemed to be pitcher Eddie Cicotte (David Strathairn) and infielder Buck Weaver (John Cusack). Cicotte, being the ace pitcher on the staff, was the key player involved in fixing the 1919 World Series and Weaver stood out because he was made to look as a totally-innocent player who got unfairly blackballed from pro baseball. At least this is according to John Sayles, who directed the film. Sayles also shows "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, the most famous player of that scandal, to be just a naive, kind of dumb guy who didn't know what was going on. (However, history records Jackson making an unusual number of throwing errors in the field, which makes him suspect.)
Sayles also goes out of his way to make Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey as a notorious tightwad who invited this sort of thing (players taking bribes) by grossly underpaying his players. They also make a point of showing him screwing Cicotte out of a big bonus. The filmmakers almost make the crooks into the good guys! Gosh, Hollywood would never do that! So, as you can see, so don't take this story as "gospel." I'm sure some of it is very true, but how much?
The baseball scenes are realistic in the field but aren't all that credible pitching and hitting. Note: Sayles has an acting role in here as does real-life sportswriter Studs Terkel, who isn't a bad actor! Michael Lerner, Charlie Sheen, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Rooker, Clifton James all add to this deep cast.
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