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BCB After Dark: Has the Professor lost his tenure?

The late night hot spot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks how worried we should be about Kyle Hendricks.

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Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the nightclub for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. So glad you could join us. You could probably use a drink right now. Maybe more than just one. Just be sure to pace yourself and know your limit.

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.

Tonight’s Cubs game in Georgia was worse than the one the night before. I was saved from seeing the end by a parent meeting. I guess I did miss Anthony Rizzo striking out Freddie Freeman, but I have seen the clips on-line so I’m all caught up on the one highlight.

Yesterday I asked you which surprisingly good team early was the most likely to keep it up and ride all the way to the playoffs. By a wide margin, you voted for the A’s, who got 57% of the vote. The Red Sox were second with 20%. Personally, I voted for the Royals, who are playing in the weakest division of the four candidates.

Here’s where I talk about film and all that jazz. As always, you’re free to skip ahead. You won’t hurt my feelings.

The Modern Jazz Quartet was one of the most famous and influential quartets in jazz history. Formed out of the rhythm section of Dizzy Gillespie’s band, it featured John Lewis on piano, Milt Jackson on vibraphone, Percy Heath on bass and Connie Kay on drums in its longest-lasting and most-famous incarnation. Their sound was pretty much all their own. While the MJQ (as they were known) certainly drew on their bebop roots with the Gillespie band and the cool jazz of the 1950s, they also brought in classical and blues elements as well. They were also among the first jazz performers to take jazz out of the clubs and put it in the concert halls, for better and for worse.

They were together for around 20 years when in 1974, Jackson had decided he had had enough. Jackson was tired of constant touring and wanted to record music that didn’t fit in with the MJQ style. So the band had a farewell concert at Lincoln Center in New York that was released as The Complete Last Concert [VIDEO], which is one of those jazz albums that every jazz fan should own. It’s mostly a collection of the MJQ’s greatest hits, but it captures the group while they were still at the peak of their talents.

The track I’m featuring here is “Django,” [VIDEO} which Lewis wrote shortly after the death of the great European Romani jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1953.

By the way, the breakup of the MJQ wouldn’t last. The four of them returned to recording and touring together in 1981 and would continue to do so until 1994, when Kay died. They rest of them permanently retired in 1997.

One of the things you are aware of if you watch a lot of old movies is how incredibly white most of them are. Sure, there are some black people who might serve as background characters like cooks or butlers, and of course, Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award for Gone With the Wind, but she was playing a slave. Asian-Americans faced much of the same discrimination.

But there was one actual Asian-American star of the 1920s and 1930s, and that was the Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong. Born Wong Liu Tsong in 1905, she was a third-generation Chinese-American from Chinatown in Los Angeles. Her parents ran a laundry and expected her to continue in a similar, respectable life, but she was seduced from a young age by the movie industry that had set up in nearby Hollywood.

Wong got her start in silent pictures, including a major supporting role in Douglas Fairbanks’ 1924 smash The Thief of Bagdad. She became an international sensation after that film and soon ended up as an icon on the covers of fashion magazines. But her beauty was always cast in “exotic” terms. She was the go-to “Dragon Lady” that was a staple of films that dealt the “Yellow Peril” fears of the time. She was denied leading roles because she wasn’t allowed to kiss white male leads under the Hays Code. The worst sting was when she was passed up for the female lead in The Good Earth, playing a Chinese peasant wife. Instead, the role went to German actress Luise Rainer in yellow-face, opposite Paul Muni with the same makeup. Rainer won the Academy Award for her performance.

But in 1937, Wong got a really good leading role. Playing the daughter of a murdered merchant in Daughter of Shanghai, Wong’s character spends the rest of the film trying to discover who killed her father and to bring those people to justice. She discovers a human smuggling ring and she even gets involved in some action scenes. Wong gets a love interest in this film in Korean-American actor Philip Ahn, who you may remember from the 1970s TV show Kung Fu. If you’re old enough, I guess.

It’s a B-movie and was treated as such. That’s the reason that Paramount was willing to give the starring role to an Asian actress instead of a white one. Daughter of Shanghai wasn’t a big budget film so they didn’t have a lot to lose by taking a chance by giving Wong the leading role. The heroes in this film are almost all played by Asian actors and all the villains were white, a role-reversal from most of the films featuring Asian casts at the time. But a lot of the low-budget films of the era have aged a lot better than the big-budget ones and Daughter of Shanghai is one of them.

By the way, Wong also made a film in 1931 called Daughter of the Dragon. Do not confuse these two films. In Daughter of the Dragon, Wong is playing an evil Asian “dragon-lady” who is the daughter of Fu Manchu. Her performance is terrific, but it’s a racist part.

Unfortunately, I can’t find any clips from Daughter of Shanghai on YouTube. There’s this thing on Vimeo [VIDEO] which claims to be the complete film, but it’s running time indicates that it is missing at least 20 minutes from the actual film. It certainly has a good chunk of the film there.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies. Although I’m not sure why everyone wants to talk baseball at this point.

A couple of weeks ago I asked you how worried you were about Javier Baez. After tonight’s atrocity, I think I need to ask how worried you are about Kyle Hendricks. For years, Hendricks has defied the naysayers who have claimed that he was mostly lucky being able to retire batters with mediocre velocity. Hendricks has always, before this year, massively outperformed his pre-season predictions. It has gotten to the point that by the time this year rolled along, many of the people who run those computer projections like PECOTA or ZiPS have just shrugged and said their system just didn’t work on Hendricks.

Those predictions aren’t working on Hendricks this year either, but only because they were too optimistic. Sara Sanchez noted Hendricks’ issues with home runs before his Wednesday start, and of course, it only got worse as Hendricks allowed three long balls in 3.2 innings this past evening.

Hendricks has made five starts so far in 2021. One against Milwaukee was excellent and another one against the Brewers was solid. But the Braves have battered him around twice and the Pirates once.

So is it just an early-season slump? Do the Braves just have something on Hendricks? Or is this just the start of a bad season for Hendricks when he can no longer get by with his below-average velocity?


How concerned are you about Kyle Hendricks right now?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    1 (least concern)
    (11 votes)
  • 5%
    (17 votes)
  • 21%
    (64 votes)
  • 38%
    (117 votes)
  • 31%
    5 (most concerned)
    (94 votes)
303 votes total Vote Now

See you again next week. Hopefully under more happy circumstances.