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This week in White Sox: Sun sets on Andre Ethier rumor

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Plus: A cluster of Black Sox articles worth reading

Buck Weaver in 1913.
Buck Weaver in 1913.
Harris & Ewing / Library of Congress

Congratulations on reaching the end of another work week. The Andre Ethier/White Sox rumor can't claim the same.

The Los Angeles Times' Bill Shakin finally sank some teeth into the report, but he only ended up deflating it:

Friedman declined to say whether he was in trade discussions with the Chicago White Sox. However, there is little traction in talks between the teams, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly. The White Sox approached the Dodgers about Yasiel Puig — apparently in the hope that fellow Cuban Jose Abreu might bring out the best in Puig — and the Dodgers instead tried to interest the White Sox in Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford.

The way Shakin presents Ethier as a consolation prize is a little surprising, if only because the rumor sprang from Chicago-based reporters Phil Rogers and Bruce Levine, so I imagined Crawford was the booby prize in the whole deal, as other reporters speculated. Instead, Ethier was the consolation prize for a sexier target in Puig, and Scott Merkin may have alluded to such interest on Wednesday.

Alas, this one's hit a dead end for now. Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks, at least. It used to be three.

Star-divide

For those Ethiered out, there's been a nice string of articles about the Black Sox that are worth your time. I already linked to one about the alternative ending to Shoeless Joe Jackson's White Sox career at The Hardball Times, but there it is again.

A day later, The Hardball Times posted a piece from Steven Martano about the seventh other men out. In laying out the individual thumbnail sketches, you can also piece together how the scandal was allowed to form, as the clubhouse had broken into two factions, one more educated, one less so. Perhaps the most enlightening is the brief bio of Fred McMullan, who only had two plate appearances during the World Series:

Most sources agree McMullin’s involvement in the scandal was more happenstance than anything else, though there is some debate. In one version, McMullin overheard other players discussing their plan to throw the series and threatened to alert Major League Baseball unless he got a share of the money. Contrary to that story, Cicotte characterized McMullin an accomplice to Gandil, one of the main organizers of the scheme. Earning one of the lowest salaries on the team, there certainly existed motivation, as McMullin garnered a significant sum for a week’s worth of "work" despite barely playing in any World Series games. In the eight games against the Reds, McMullin came to the plate only twice, making an out in Game One and hitting a single in Game Two.

Buck Weaver still has the most sympathetic case of the bunch, and if you want to read more about him, you're in luck. Steven Goldman (formerly of SB Nation) wrote a great article about Weaver, who died 60 years ago this week. It's a fair assessment of Weaver's legacy, one that comes down to Weaver possessing enough knowledge to be an accessory to a crime, but not having anybody to tell about it even if he wanted to, leaving us to weigh it as we will:

It's impossible to imagine anyone considering the Black Sox for longer than a nanosecond and not coming away with strong feelings about Buck Weaver. He could be a martyr, his career dying for baseball's earlier sin of tolerating gambling and game-fixing, or perhaps his tragedy was being caught in what one writer called "a moral dilemma," that of whether or not to "squeal" on his ostensible friends. "I couldn't bring myself to tell on them even had I known for certain," he said. "I decided to keep quiet and play my best." Weaver need not have worried; informed of the fix at several turns, Comiskey did everything but put his hands over his years and shout, "La la la I can't hear you!" The tragic truth was, Weaver was doomed from the moment he agreed to hear what the gamblers had to say.