Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Field of Dreams II: The Black Sox and the PED Users

Andrew Martin writes a terrific blog called The Baseball Historian. If you have not checked it out yet, do yourself a favor and take a visit. It was on this blog that I stumbled upon this piece on Chick Gandil. The post is titled Chick Gandil's Side of the Story and it breaks down an interview that Gandil gave to Sports Illustrated in 1956.

 The Black Sox and their story has been portrayed in two of my favorite movies, Eight Men Out and of course Field of Dreams. Eight Men Out makes you feel awful for Buck Weaver,and pretty bad for Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams. Field of Dreams makes you want to picket on the streets of Cooperstown in honor of Shoeless Joe. Do these movies give an accurate description of what really happened?

The interview with Gandil along with other research doesn't put Jackson and Weaver in the best light. I did find it fascinating that the Black Sox may have been actually trying to win the 1919 series and double cross the gamblers. Research also tells us that Christy Mathewson watched Joe Jackson closely that series and while Jackson never made an error, Mathewson noticed a few plays in the field that seemed suspicious given Jackson's reputation as a great fielder.

 That brings me to this scene in Field of Dreams when Ray is explaining to his daughter all about Jackson and just how bad he was screwed in the Black Sox scandal. Watching this as a 14 year old it made me an instant fan of Shoeless Joe Jackson.


I worry about this same thing happening 100 years from now when someone decides to make a movie about Alex Rodriguez. You can call it Field of Dreams II. The script follows some guy trying to bring back AROD who was the hero of his father.

The guy is on his tractor explaining to his young daughter how Commissioner Bud Selig was out to get Alex, how his suspension of 211 games was unfair and based on the testimony of some low life named Tony Bosch and if he was really using the drugs then how come he never failed a test? 14 year olds seeing the movie will instantly become Alex Rodgriguez fans. Throw in a great soundtrack and acting and AROD will have more fans in 100 years than he has now.

This bothers me just like I am sure it bothers the baseball fans of 1919 who are rolling over in their graves as I took up the cause of Weaver and Shoeless Joe. Is it ok if I just believe the Field of Dreams and Eight Men Out versions? Life is easier that way sometimes.

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