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BCB After Dark: Taking a step back

The late-night gig for night owls, early risers and Cubs fans abroad asks if it’s time for pitchers to take a step back.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Texas Rangers Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It’s time for another round at BCB After Dark, the online nightclub for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. As always, bring your own green beer.

Remember, BCB After Dark is for everyone to hang out and talk about baseball, movies and music. Or maybe whatever else is on your mind. The late-nighters are encouraged to start the conversation, but we’d love everyone else to join the conversation as morning comes. Or even in the afternoon for those who are still adjusting to Daylight Savings Time.

Last time I asked what you thought of the new rules that are being tested out at the minor league level this year. I asked which one you most wanted to see come to the major leagues and 28% of you want pitch clocks and other timers to speed up the game and cut out the dead time. Another 23% of you wanted to see infielders keep their feet on the dirt to limit shifting and another 23% didn’t want any of the new rules adopted. (Eight percent of you wanted all of the new rules adopted.)

Next up is our look at jazz and old movies. If you’re not interested in that, you can skip down to the baseball discussion at the bottom.

I think that it was inevitable that I’d pull up Thelonious Monk’s classic “‘Round Midnight” for a column named “BCB After Dark.” That I’m doing it now is either a testament to Monk’s genius or a worrying sign that I’m running out of jazz pieces to highlight already. Luckily, there’s a ton of different versions of “‘Round Midnight” out there, so I can bring another one up later for contrast.

This one appears to be for Polish television in 1966. By this time, Monk had been playing this piece for about 25 years. It’s Monk’s own composition and it holds the distinction of being the most-recorded piece of music written by a jazz musician.

I said last time that I’d say something about my favorite pre-code film, 1931’s Night Nurse by director William A. Wellman and starring Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell, Ben Lyon and Clark Gable before he grew a mustache.

I first saw the movie about three years ago and I’ve watched it (I think) four more times since then. I know I watched it twice in lockdown last summer. Stanwyck, then only 24 years old, stars as a young woman in the Depression looking for work so she applies to be a nurse. After first getting rejected for not having a high school diploma, she’s later accepted after she charms the hospital’s chief of staff. In the program she meets Blondell, who plays the role that she’s most associated with, the sassy best friend. Blondell had some leading roles in her career (and she was terrific in them) but she was really the Joan Cusack of her day. I don’t think she was a Cubs fan though.

Anyway, Stanwyck and Blondell’s characters go through nurse training trying to maintain their dignity in the face of harassment from the men in the hospital. They also change in and out of their nurses uniforms several times for no particular reason except it’s 1931 and that’s about as risqué as you can get on-screen. Hey, that’s a lot more than they’d be able to get away with in 1935.

Lyon plays a bootlegger (we’re still in Prohibition!) who shows up in the hospital with a bullet wound. Stanwyck’s character fixes him up and doesn’t tell the police about it, in violation of hospital policy. Lyon’s bootlegger takes a liking to Stanwyck and pops in and out of the rest of the movie trying to woo her. Lyon’s character also offers to help Stanwyck several times with his trademark line “I know a few guys . . .”

But this is really Stanwyck’s movie and her character’s story. She takes a job as a private nurse to two young dying daughters of a rich alcoholic widow. That’s where we meet the villainous chauffeur, played by Clark Gable before he grew his mustache. This part was supposed to be played by Blondell’s longtime on-screen partner James Cagney, but Cagney was considered too big a star to play such a supporting part after the success of The Public Enemy. So Gable got the part in one of his early big breaks.

Did I say the mother was an alcoholic? Actually, she’s a dipsomaniac! And she’s proud of it, as she explains in this clip.

I know alcoholism isn’t funny. Unless you call it “dipsomania” and turn it into some kind of Reefer Madness for alcohol in the middle of Prohibition. Just the way Stanwyck keeps her cool as Charlotte Merriam starts screaming “I’m a dipsomaniac and I like it! I like it!” is worth watching the whole film for.

I won’t spoil the rest of the picture for you, but the film just moves fast from scene to scene and it all holds together, despite being part “Woman in the big city” movie, part crime film and part ridiculous portrayals of the debauchery of demon rum. Night Nurse rotates in and out of Turner Classic Movies and streaming services, so keep your eye peeled for it. You can also rent it from the usual suspects. And it will fall into the public domain in 2026, so in the worst case, you’ll be able to see it everywhere then.

In today/yesterday’s Outside the Confines, I linked to an article by Ben Lindbergh in The Ringer titled “The Mound is Too Damn Close.” The thesis of the article is that it’s time to move the mound back from the current 60 feet, six inches, where it’s been for over 120 years.

The problem with baseball today, as most people diagnose it, is that there isn’t enough action on the field of play. Compared to the game forty years ago, or even twenty years ago, there are far more strikeouts, far more walks, far more home runs and far fewer stolen bases. A lot of people have offered opinions as to why this is, but Lindbergh makes the case, and I happen to agree with it, that the biggest problem with baseball is that the players are just too darn good. Back in the 1970s, Nolan Ryan was considered a freak of nature because his fastball sat in the upper-90s and would occasionally touch 100 mph. Now there are dozens of pitchers who can throw 100 mph.

These trends have accelerated in the 21st Century. Lindbergh notes that the average pitch speed of every type of pitch has increased by by 1.5 to 2 mph just since 2008. The data before that isn’t as accurate, but it seems to have increased by another 1 to 2 mph from 2002 to 2007.

This kind of velocity is very difficult to hit. Moving the mound back to 62 feet, 6 inches would almost double the time that hitters would have to decide whether or not to swing, according to one expert Lindbergh spoke with.

But not everyone agrees with moving the mound back, and Lindbergh is fair enough to include the objections in his piece. So what I’m asking tonight is do you think MLB should experiment with moving the mound back to 62 feet, 6 inches? I’m going to ask if MLB should try it out in the minor leagues first, since clearly MLB isn’t just going to announce the mound is moving back two feet next season. But I want to know what you think of the idea and whether or not you think it would work.


Should MLB experiment with moving the mound back two feet in the minor leagues?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Yes, and I think it will prove to be a good distance for the major leagues.
    (32 votes)
  • 22%
    They should try it out, but I don’t think it will work.
    (17 votes)
  • 35%
    No. Sixty feet, six inches is the right distance.
    (27 votes)
76 votes total Vote Now

We’ll see you again on Monday night/Tuesday morning.