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BCB After Dark: Where should the Cubs improve?

The nightspot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks where you think the Cubs need to look for outside help this year.

Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jay Drowns/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the jazz club for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’ve added valet parking tonight. I’ll see to it your vehicle gets washed and vacuumed. Be sure to tip your staff.

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 4-1 win over the Pirates was a pretty clean win with not much bad drama. Yes, there was that triple by Ben Gamel that Joc Pederson misplayed into a triple in right field and that leadoff double by Gamel again to lead off the ninth. But both times the Cubs pitcher, Trevor Williams and Craig Kimbrel respectively, settled down after the extra base hit and kept the Pirates from scoring.

Last time I asked you who you thought the Cubs Most Valuable Player has been so far and the winner was Kris Bryant in a landslide. Bryant won with 66% of the vote while Kimbrel was in second with 12%. Third place was Nico Hoerner with 7%.

Here’s the part where I discuss jazz and movies. Those of you who want to skip to the poll question at the end are free to do so now. You won’t hurt my feelings.

We lost jazz great McCoy Tyner last year, just about two weeks before the pandemic hit. I’m always sad that we lost a talent as great as Tyner, but if he was going to go, at least he had the good sense to go out at the very last moment before the world went in the dumpster last year.

I’ve mentioned Tyner in this space before, as he was the pianist on John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. But Tyner had almost a fifty-year career after he left Coltrane’s group that made him a jazz great in his own right.

Here’s Tyner in 2002 playing Coltrane’s song “Moment’s Notice” [VIDEO] for the BBC.

I don’t really have the time to do two movie essays a week anymore with the minor league season underway, so I’ve just been taking the time on Wednesdays to throw out a movie question for discussion.

On Monday night/Tuesday morning I discussed John Ford’s Stagecoach, which kicked off a golden age for Westerns in movies and TV that lasted roughly from Stagecoach in 1939 to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969. If you want to extend the golden age to 1973’s High Plains Drifter, I won’t argue, but it’s clear that the Western went out of style in the early seventies and the genre has never regained its prominence since then.

If you’ve ever taken an American Studies class, you probably know how much Americans came to define themselves by the values they saw in the Western genre. The Western taught Americans that they built a nation out of nothing but self-reliance and strong moral values. Also violence, although Americans rarely liked to put it in terms that stark. You could say that even though the Western has been out of fashion for 50 years, its values live on in other movies like the Star Wars films, which are mostly Westerns set in outer space.

(To be clear, most of the myth of the West was just that—a myth. The real colonization of the American frontier bore little resemblance to what we have seen on screens or read in books for over a century.)

It wasn’t just Americans who were fascinated by the myth of the West. Other countries either watched these films and adapted them to their culture or just made Westerns themselves. The samurai films of Akira Kurosawa were often Westerns adapted to Japanese culture, which in turn often got re-imported to the US in remakes like The Magnificent Seven, which was a cowboy version of Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai.

Then there were the “Spaghetti Westerns” of Italian directors like Sergio Leone, who re-invigorated the genre with the “Man With No Name” trilogy with Clint Eastwood of A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

(As an aside, the “Man With No Name” trilogy is a brilliant piece of marketing. It’s also ridiculous as Clint Eastwood’s character has a different name in all three films. He’s not even supposed to be the same character in each film, but the budget was so low that Eastwood had to supply his own costume, so he saved money by just wearing the same hat and poncho in each film so everyone thought he was supposed to be the same character.)

Of course, they still make Westerns. They also make neo-Westerns set in the present day like No Country for Old Men or TV Westerns set in the modern day like Justified or Yellowstone.

My question for you is, do you still like to watch Westerns in the 21st Century? Do you have some favorite Western movies, even if they’re neo-Westerns?

I’ve made it clear that Stagecoach and High Noon are among my favorites. I’d put the “Man With No Name” trilogy up in the top with them along with Leone’s Once Upon A Time in the West. Others that come to mind off the top of my head that I’d recommend are Red River, My Darling Clementine and 3:10 to Yuma. (Both versions are very good, and I’d recommend both. But if I had to choose, I’d take the 1957 version over the 2007 version.)

I’ve watched The Magnificent Seven so many times that I’m sick of it now. Except for that first scene when Steve McQueen and Yul Brenner ride the hearse up to Boot Hill. I could watch that scene forever.

Everyone always says The Searchers, but while I do like it and admit it’s a great piece of filmmaking, I don’t enjoy it as much as the others. But maybe I should watch it again.

I guess we have to include Blazing Saddles as well.

So what am I forgetting? What are your candidates for the greatest Westerns of all time?

Welcome back to all of you who skip the jazz and movies.

On Monday night/Tuesday morning, I asked if you thought the Cubs would add or subtract players at the trade deadline. Most of you thought that they would either trade away players or stand relatively pat, but let’s assume for a moment that the Cubs have a three-game lead (or so) in the division in mid-July. At that point, it would be hard to justify dealing someone like Kris Bryant unless the Cubs got someone like Trevor Story back in return. Which probably wouldn’t make much sense for the Cubs or the Rockies.

So let’s say Jed Hoyer has decided to add players and take one last shot at a title. Obviously he’s going to try to address as many holes as possible and he’s going to try to make the best deal possible. But if the team were to make a deal now or in the near future, what need to you think the team needs to address first? In other words, what should be the Cubs’ priority in any deal?

I’ve got a few possibilities. Obviously you’d always take another bullpen arm at the right price, but the Cubs ‘pen has been lights-out recently and they’ve been maybe the biggest reason the team has soared back into playoff contention. So I’m going to leave “reliever” out of the vote.

Does Jed Hoyer try to land a starting pitcher first? Yes, it seems that Kyle Hendricks has fixed whatever was going wrong earlier this season and Zach Davies has been good in May after a terrible April. But Jake Arrieta isn’t very consistent anymore, Trevor Williams hasn’t been very good (except earlier tonight against the Pirates) and Adbert Alzolay has terrific stuff with so-so results.

Or maybe they need an outfielder with all the injuries to the outfielders. Or a second baseman with Nico Hoerner having gone down with a hamstring injury. Finally, I’d like to give P.J. Higgins a chance, but is he the backup catcher you want in 2021 if you expect to be a playoff team?

So what is it? What position would you most like to see the Cubs add right now?


What position do you think the Cubs most need to improve through a trade?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Starting pitching
    (163 votes)
  • 4%
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Second baseman
    (0 votes)
  • 11%
    Backup catcher
    (22 votes)
  • 3%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (6 votes)
199 votes total Vote Now

Thanks for joining us tonight. I’ll see you again Monday night/Tuesday morning.