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BCB After Dark: Will the Cubs spend the big dough?

The hip spot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks if you think the Cubs are going to splurge on a free agent shortstop this winter.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Colorado Rockies
Trevor Story wears his sunglasses at night
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the afterparty for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Glad you could join us as we wrap up the week. We’re waiving the dress code for tonight. Please bring your own beverage. Make yourself at home. You’re probably home anyway.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

The Astros took a 3 games to 2 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series with a 9-1 win behind the pitching of Framber Valdez and the hitting of Yordan Alvarez. Drew Smyly, who spent his entire year with the Cubs on the injured list except for one inning of rehab in South Bend, dominated the mighty Dodgers as the Braves beat LA 9-2. Eddie Rosario had two home runs and four hits. Atlanta went up three games-to-one in the NLCS. Both the Astros and Braves are one win away from a trip to the World Series and both teams still have two games left at home to get it. (The Braves also have one road game along with two at home to get that final win.)

Feel free to discuss tonight’s games here if you wish.

Last time I asked you if the Astros and the Dodgers had momentum going into today’s games thanks to their come-from-behind wins on Monday. I guess today’s games were inconclusive as the Astros stayed hot but the Dodgers did not. In any case, 77 percent of you believe in the old saying that momentum in baseball is only as good as the next day’s starter.

Additionally, I asked you for your World Series predictions. I find it funny that the Astros/Braves, the matchup that looks most likely after today’s games, finished last with only 15 percent. Winning the vote was Red Sox/Braves with 35 percent, and that matchup seems to be the second-most likely at the moment. So you aren’t all crazy. Red Sox/Dodgers got 31 percent and Astros/Dodgers got 20 percent.

Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. Feel free to skip to the baseball question at the end if you wish. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Guitarist Pat Matheny just released a new album last month and they’ve been playing the heck out of it on the SiriusXM Real Jazz channel. I’m not really a big fan of Matheny—he’s got too much of a “classic rock combined with smooth jazz” vibe for me—but maybe you are. I’ve got to learn that just because something doesn’t appeal to me that much doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad. I mean it probably is, but I’ve got to allow for the possibility that it isn’t. :-)

I said I’d try to do a movie essay in tonight’s edition on Monday, so I do have a short essay about one film. I watched the original 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers and while it’s no masterpiece, it is a film that has completely become part of the zeitgeist. There’s something in this low-budget mid-fifties sci-fi/horror picture that has struck a chord in audiences for over sixty years now.

Most of you are probably familiar with the phrase “pod people,” which is a way of saying someone isn’t quite human. I think far fewer of you have actually seen the original picture it came from. (Although more of you have probably seen one of the three remakes—1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1993’s Body Snatchers and 2007’s The Invasion.)

The plot of Invasion of the Body Snatchers isn’t deep. Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy), is a small-town doctor in the fictional town of Santa Mira, California. He’s been seeing patients who are convinced that loved ones have been replaced with identical doubles. These doubles are almost completely without emotion, but otherwise behave exactly like the originals.

Dr. Bennell tries to get these people in for psychiatric help, but the patients all eventually tell the doctor that’t they are fine and are no longer having delusions. As Bennell investigates the phenomenon, he’s joined by his ex-girlfriend Becky (Dana Wynter), his best friend Jack (King Donovan) and Jack’s wife “Teddy.” (Caroline Jones—before she played Morticia Addams.)

(Spoilers, I guess) Eventually, they discover a partially-formed copy of Jack, which leads them on a chase for the truth. One by one the other townsfolk turn into doppelgängers. The four discover a greenhouse with these giant pods that the identical doubles emerge out of. Somehow, they instantly realized that these pods are extraterrestrial invaders that floated to earth as space seeds. Eventually, all the people in the town are duplicated until only Dr. Bennell and Becky are left. The “turned” people chase Dr. Bennell and Becky, trying to replace them with doubles as well. Dr. Bennell realizes that people get replaced when they fall asleep, so the two of them try to stay awake at all costs. But eventually, Becky falls asleep in Dr. Bennell’s arms and turns into a “pod person.” Alone, Dr. Bennell flees the town to look for help. As he wanders onto a crowded highway trying to get anyone to believe him, Bennell jumps on the back of a truck. He looks in and sees that it is full of pods. He stands in the center of the highway and he realizes that the trucks are all full of pods to be delivered across America.

(End Spoilers)

The studio thought that this film was too bleak, so they ordered director Don Siegel to add on an opening and closing scene to try to offer a little more hope. Siegel was completely against it, but he did it anyway. Some versions of the film in the years since have eliminated those two scenes. It’s still pretty bleak, but people do believe Dr. Bennell in the end with the tacked-on scenes.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers was one of the many low-budget sci-fi/horror films made in the 1950s. It was something to stick some scares into girls going out on a date in a drive-in theater. Presumably so that they’d have an excuse to hold their boyfriends tight. Most of the scares come from a heavy-handed musical score or some creepy shots of people emerging from giant foaming plant pods.

There were hundreds of low-budget genre films like this one, but only Invasion of the Body Snatchers seems to have had a long-lasting impact. The two biggest themes of the film—conformity and paranoia—were big issues in Eisenhower’s America. In the years since, many have interpreted Invasion of the Body Snatchers as a commentary on McCarthyism and the Red Scare. However, one can equally argue from the other side that it was a critique of communism and how foreign ideas can infiltrate America. Others have just said that Body Snatchers is a commentary about the stifling conformity of the fifties. Director Siegel, for his part, just said he didn’t make pictures with a message. That doesn’t mean that one of these interpretations aren’t valid. The playwright Tom Stoppard once said that people are always finding things in his works that he can’t remember putting in them, but he couldn’t deny that they were there.

I think those themes of conformity and paranoia are why this film has had such a lasting impact. Sometimes filmmakers hit gold by accident. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an example.

Here’s the scene where Bennell, Becky, Jack and Teddy discover the pods.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and film.

Buster Olney published an article on Wednesday on the upcoming free agent shortstop market. (ESPN+ sub. req.) What’s interesting about that article from the Cub fan’s point of view is that Olney writes that the Cubs are a “wild card” team in the free agent shortstop market and that Cubs front office-types have been seen “cultivating information” about free agent shortstops.

Perhaps the front office is just doing their due diligence, but there’s little question that the Cubs need a shortstop. The front office has said a lot about spending “intelligently” and owner Tom Ricketts said that the Cubs “have the resources” to compete in 2022. It would be tough for the Cubs to be competitive next season if they don’t add a top shortstop. Maybe that’s just talk for the fans. Maybe it isn’t.

Olney polled eleven baseball “evaluators” for their opinions on the top five free agent shortstops. Those baseball people ranked the five as follows:

  1. Corey Seager
  2. Carlos Correa
  3. Marcus Semien
  4. Trevor Story
  5. Javier Báez

Personally, I’d rank Correa over Seager, but I admit that no team could go wrong adding either one. Four of the eleven evaluators agreed with me, while six thought Seager was the best. One picked Semien as the top free agent shortstop.

So tonight’s question is “Will any of these five players be wearing Cubbie blue in 2022?” Certainly when Báez was traded to the Mets, many thought that he might be back in Chicago next year. On the other hand, El Mago was one of the few bright spots for the Mets down the stretch and he loves playing with his good buddy Francisco Lindor. There’s also been talk about the Cubs being interested in Semien and Story. I even asked you about Story back in August when the rumors got started. We haven’t heard much about the Cubs going after one of the top two, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not interested.

So will the Cubs sign one of these players and which one?


Which of these free agent shortstops will the Cubs sign?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Corey Seager
    (29 votes)
  • 13%
    Carlos Correa
    (44 votes)
  • 8%
    Marcus Semien
    (27 votes)
  • 17%
    Trevor Story
    (57 votes)
  • 6%
    Javier Báez
    (22 votes)
  • 45%
    None of them
    (151 votes)
330 votes total Vote Now

Thank you again for stopping by. Let’s do it again next week. Please tip your waitstaff. We don’t pay them enough. We’ll be back next Monday night/Tuesday morning with another edition of BCB After Dark.