Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Review: It Ain't So

It Ain't So by Michael T. Lynch Jr.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love a good book. I even enjoy some bad ones on occasion. I'll devour anything Stephen King wrote. I'll pick up most books on baseball for a token read. I span many genres, from sports to horror, humor to history and just about everything in between.

To save money, I've been known to haunt my public library from time to time. I'll wander down the aisles and choose books that sound interesting. One such trip resulted in a book on Garfield's 25th anniversary, a Stephen Hawking book, a Roger Ebert book, a book on the 1959 White Sox and a Tori Amos CD. That's pretty varied reading (and listening).

My last trip resulted in running across this gem about the 1919 White Sox team. I've read countless books on the subject, but this one has a twist. Tell the actual story of the Chicago White Sox, tracking the roots of the key players of the 1919 team, and how they came to be and continue the true story through the 1932 season, chronicling the downfall of the White Sox team. At the same time, track the alternate history of the White Sox starting with the 1919 World Series, as if there were no shenanigans. In the simulation, the last Black Sox player retired after the 1932 season, which is why the actual history of the team is tracked that far.

Using computer simulation, it tracks the careers of each of the Black Sox players, except Fred McMullen, who was a utility player and was considered expendable in this exercise. It was decided that Dickie Kerr wouldn't take the break and pitch through the years that he wasn't in baseball and that Chick Gandil's most likely reason for retiring (his payment from the gamblers) was removed, so he continued to play in 1920 and beyond.

The results were very surprising and are likely results that you would not expect. I won't divulge the outcomes here, but I will share the comparisons that the author concluded after running the simulated seasons.

Eddie Cicotte = Mel Harder
Chick Gandil = Hal Chase
Joe Jackson = Tris Speaker
Swede Risberg = Dick Bartell
Buck Weaver = Rabbit Maranville
Lefty Williams = Tom Glavine

Interestingly enough, Chick Gandil's combined actual and simulated career are very similar to Hal Chase's, who was a notorious gambler and rumored to be heavily involved in the 1919 World Series scandal and suspended for his own game fixing accusations.

This is perhaps the most unique angle that I've seen in all the books I've read about the 1919 White Sox team. It is definitely worth a read to see how things may have played out. It will definitely surprise you!

1 comment:

Spiegel83 said...

I'll have to check this out. I haven't read any books on the subject but I loved "8 Men Out" I'll pick this book up

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