I Netflixed the movie Eight Men Out on 4/17/2009 according to their records and finally watched it again before making this post about the 8th and last game of the 1919 World Series. The purpose of this exercise was to integrate regular season data with post season and automate generating these reports accurately for every playoff series and every game played in baseball since 1919. I wanted to interpret this data day by day without outside influence from movie script writers who often take artistic liberties with a story.
After watching Eight Men Out again the lens from which I see data from these games has changed.
My assumption was that White Sox players may have been coy providing cover for the fix by winning 3 games. According to the movie they weren’t supposed to win Game 3. The mafia guys didn’t care about the players, they were betting Reds every game. Losing Game 3 cost them money as well as possibly games 6 and 7. The series is now 4-3 and the White Sox need to win the next two. The mafia needs them to lose. Let’s look at Game 8, the final game of the 1919 World Series.
CIN CHA 191910090
The handicapping report says this game was played in Chicago which meant another 9 hour sleep on the train trip from Cincinnati to Chicago for both teams.
Hod Eller must face a Tier 4 CHA lineup giving White Sox an advantage. Lefty Williams is pretty much even steven with Reds’ relatively weak lineup. Under normal circumstances White Sox would again be favored, but not as heavily as when Cicotte pitches.
According to the movie the mob guys threatened to kill Lefty’s wife if he didn’t throw this game which is a pretty big incentive to do what they say.
And Lefty gives up 4 runs in the first and gets pulled and in comes someone from the CHA Tier -2.34 Relief staff, not in the fix, in the first inning who allow Reds’ weak lineup to score another 6 runs. CHA scores 5 and according to the movie Shoeless Joe and Buck Weaver may not have been “in on the fix.” The movie suggests Weaver never received any money even though all the players in on the fix got ripped off by the mafia guys. ProTip: Don’t make deals with the mafia.
Williams got one out, faced 5 players and gave up 4 unearned runs which pretty much meant game over in the first inning. Then comes the seldom seen CHA relief staff, the dark underbelly of this great White Sox team. Bill James is ranked #52 in the bottom 100 and gives up 3 earned runs, 1 unearned. Wilkinson comes in and pitches the final 4 innings giving up 2. Finally Reds bats faced pitchers they could hit which won them the NL pennant.
The unearned run comes from catcher Ray Schaik, not in on the fix. His was the only error CHA made in this game.
Shoeless Joe had a fantastic day driving in 3 and scoring twice with a solo home run in the third. Buck Weaver went 2/5 scoring once. The movie suggested both these players did not lay down. Even Chick Gandil, the alleged organizer of the fix, scored and drove in a run but by the 8th inning they were so far behind it didn’t matter.
The White Sox scored enough runs to win this game had an untainted Lefty Williams pitched to match his regular season performance.
We’ll skip Cincinnati’s box score since they racked up their runs on White Sox extremely poor relief. Relief wasn’t very important in that era of baseball and only became important around 1980 but that’s fodder for another analysis. In modern baseball teams typically carry 8 relievers and they all work. In this World Series there are probably guys sitting on the bench who never played.
That is all for the 1919 World Series; a series that launched a lot of changes in baseball. Tomorrow an epilogue will be posted looking at player totals and more reflections on the movie about this series. Until then …