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BCB After Dark: Time for an ancient Mariner?

The cool spot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks if the Cubs should pursue free agent third baseman Kyle Seager.

Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the invite-only club for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Here’s your invitation in case you misplaced yours. Please let us take your hat and coat. We’ve saved you a table in the second row. Please bring your own beverage.

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.

We’re waiting on Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday and Houston as Max Fried will take the mound for Atlanta while the well-traveled, rubber-armed pitcher “TBD” will start for the Astros. The Braves lead the Series three games to two.

Last week I asked about a somewhat controversial call at second base in Game 2 of the World Series that would have been a lot more controversial had it made it difference in the outcome of the game. In case you’ve forgotten, Kyle Tucker was on first base with one out when Yuli Gurriel hit a grounder to shortstop Dansby Swanson, who made a throw to second baseman Ozzie Albies who dropped the ball. The question was whether or not Albies had enough control of the ball to rule Tucker out at second base. Umpire Ted Barrett and the replay officials said Albies did not, but 67% of you thought that he did and that Tucker should have been called out.

My apologies to Kyle Seager for the title. The literary reference was too great to pass up, but he’s not that old. Kyle Seager is much younger than I am, for example.

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.

Today’s jazz track is a performance by the Max Roach Quartet on Norwegian television in 1977. Anything by Roach is going to be interesting, but at the 21 minute mark of this video, Roach plays a two-minute cymbal solo that is absolutely mesmerizing. Sure, there’s a drum solo shortly thereafter that is pretty amazing too, but how often have you heard someone play nothing but a cymbal for two minutes and make it interesting? That’s how talented Roach was.

With Cecil Bridgewater on Trumpet, Billy Harper on tenor saxophone and Reggie Workman on bass. And of course, Max Roach on drums as well as a cymbal.

You’re going to have to indulge me with one more Halloween film as today’s selection is Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1932 film Vampyr. It’s a film that I had heard of before but had never seen before it turned up on Turner Classic Movies on Halloween night. So I sat down and watched it and found it fascinating and unlike almost everything that I had ever seen before.

Vampyr was Dreyer’s follow-up to 1928’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, which is one of the most celebrated and highly-regarded silent films of all time. Vampyr, in contrast, was a flop when it came out and caused Dreyer to give up directing for a decade. However, recent restorations have caused people to look at it with fresh eyes. It’s been re-evaluated as a flawed but fascinating piece of German expressionism and surrealism.

It’s easy to see why Vampyr was poorly-received when it came out. There’s not much of a plot and what there is of it, Dreyer presents in a jumbled fashion that doesn’t use a linear storyline. Vampyr was Dreyer’s first sound film, if you can call it that. The film was shot pretty much as a silent picture and then three different soundtracks—German, French and English—were dubbed in later. The German version is considered the definitive one and that’s the one that TCM showed. It doesn’t really matter that much, however, because there is very little dialogue in the 73 minute running time. Dreyer also made extensive use of interstitial narrative cards early to explain the film, just like they would in a silent picture. Later on, the plot is driven by showing pages of a book to explain what is going on.

The star of the film is Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg, a minor German nobleman and general socialite in Paris at the time. Gunzburg had never acted before and would never act again. He will never be considered one of the greats of the silver screen. (He would later, however, become a major figure in the history of fashion as he would serve as the senior fashion editor for Vogue magazine in the fifties and sixties.) But Gunzburg’s confused look on screen actually ties in well with the dream (or nightmare) vibe of the entire film. (Gunzburg took the screen name Julian West for his brief acting career.)

In fact, there were only two professional actors in this film. The rest of the roles were played by people, like Gunzburg, whom Dreyer had come across and whom he thought had the look he was going for in the picture.

The plot of the film is so thin that I’m not going to put a spoiler warning on it, but if you’re concerned, skip the next two paragraphs. Allan Gray (Gunzburg) is on vacation in a small French town when an old man gives him a package with instructions to open it upon his death. This leads to a dreamlike voyage by Gray to a spooky manor where the old man is living with his two daughters. But before he can enter, the old man is shot. Gray comes in and tries to save him, but he dies that night. Gray discovers that the old man had two daughters, one of which is dying of some unknown illness.

Upon opening the package, Gray discovers it is a book about vampires and that the younger daughter is under the spell of a vampire. The town doctor convinces Gray that he needs to give a blood transfusion to save the girl. Weak from the loss of blood, Gray has a long, surrealistic dream that, along with the book, reveals that the doctor is working with an old woman who is the town vampire and that the two of them are trying to kill the younger girl. Gray rescues the older daughter, whom the two had tied up in a bondage scene, and Gray and the old man’s loyal servants kill the vampire and the doctor. The younger daughter recovers and Gray and the older daughter walk off into the morning dawn together.

As I said, you don’t watch Vampyr for the plot or the acting. What is hypnotic about the film is the surrealistic, dreamlike images of the entire film. Dreyer extensively uses shadows, some of which violate the laws of physics, to create a nightmare for the protagonist. Dreyer also employs many odd camera angles in the spirit of German expressionist films of the 1920s. He also heightened the dreamlike state by shooting the film with a sheet of gauze over the camera lens. Or perhaps by intentionally overexposing the film—sources differ on how the hazy look of the film was achieved.

I keep coming back to a dream when describing the film, but I can’t think of a better way of watching the movie than to just be transfixed by the images as if you were dreaming. In some ways, Vampyr reminds me of the films of David Lynch, although without the offbeat Lynchian sense of humor that is so present in almost all of his films. But certainly the nightmare aspect of Vampyr echoes in Lynch films such as Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

Here’s a great scene where Allan Gray is exploring an old flour mill that shows Dreyer’s use of shadows to create a surrealistic world. Unfortunately, it seems to be cut from an old, unrestored print of the film and that part of it doesn’t look very good. But you do get a great sense of how shadows are used.

Now here’s one more creepy scene where we see the town doctor meeting up with the old woman vampire. I’m including this one because it’s from a restored print so you can see what the film is supposed to look like.

There are a lot of copies of this floating around the internet, but from what I can tell, they aren’t the restored version. If you decide to watch Vampyr, pay a little something to rent the restored version. You’re not watching for the plot, you’re watching for the atmosphere, which is poorly represented by these old, deteriorating prints.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and the movies. Since last we met here, the Mariners have told their long-time third baseman Kyle Seager that they will not pick up his contract option for 2022 and that he will become a free agent. When that happened, many people on Cubs Twitter (the name for a nebulous network of Cubs fans who post on Twitter) have suggested that Seager would be a great pickup for the Cubs.

So what do you think? Should the Cubs try to sign Kyle Seager for 2022? Yes, I all know we’d rather have his younger brother Corey, but let’s focus on who might actually be coming to the North Side. Also, while I’m sure that Corey would love to be on the same team as his older brother Kyle, he’s not going to sign a seven-year contract with any team just because his older brother signed a one- or two-year deal with the same team. So don’t suggest that the Cubs sign Kyle in order to tempt Corey to sign with the Cubs. Corey Seager will only sign with the Cubs if they offer him the best contract, not because they signed his brother to a two-year deal.

The positive part of Kyle Seager’s game is his power. Seager hit 35 home runs for the Mariners last year, despite playing in a crappy ballpark to hit in. Only 13 of those 35 home runs were hit in Seattle, so you’d have to think that Seager could hit 40 home runs by playing half his games in a better hitting environment like Wrigley Field.

Seager’s other positives is that he walks a fair amount and even though he turns 34 on Wednesday, he’s still a pretty good defensive third baseman. Maybe he’s not as good as he once was, but he’s still pretty good.

The downside to Seager is that he turns 34 on Wednesday. On top of that, he only hit .212 in 2021 with a .285 on-base percentage. Yes, those numbers are much better when you look at his road stats for 2021 (.261 with a .323 OBP), but you can’t just extrapolate those road numbers and assume that’s what Kyle Seager would hit in a full season at Wrigley Field.

Seager also strikes out a lot. He struck out 161 times in 2021, or 24% of his plate appearances.

The Cubs also have Patrick Wisdom to play third base, and he is a pretty good defender with a lot of power. On the other hand, Wisdom strikes out a lot more than even Seager, and a lot of people question Wisdom’s ability to maintain those power numbers with a 40% strikeout rate. Wisdom could also play left field or first base. And yes, we’re all assuming the National League will have the DH in 2022.

So what do you think? Is Kyle Seager someone the Cubs should pursue? The Mariners declined a one-year, $15 million dollar option on Seager, so you’d have to assume that whatever he’ll sign for, it will be less than that. Maybe he’ll get a two-year deal, but it won’t be in the $15 million a year range.


Should the Cubs pursue free agent third baseman Kyle Seager?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    (40 votes)
  • 37%
    (50 votes)
  • 32%
    (43 votes)
133 votes total Vote Now

Thank you for stopping by. We’ll have an abbreviated edition of BCB After Dark again tomorrow night. Be sure to tip your waitstaff on the way out. I hope you’ll check in with us again tomorrow.