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BCB After Dark: I’ve run out of words...

The hip club for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks which free agent pitcher you would like to see the Cubs sign.

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St. Louis Cardinals v. Chicago Cubs

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the jazz and film club for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Glad you could join us to drown your sorrows. Or maybe you could drown my sorrows. Pour yourself a tall one. Sit down and relax.

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 Cubs lost their 12th-straight game tonight to the Reds, 14-5. Honestly, I don’t really know what to say about this anymore. It was to be expected that the team would play poorly after the team got gutted at the trade deadline, but this is getting ridiculous. At least it sounds like Justin Steele pitched decently enough. I don’t know personally as I was at my daughter’s back-to-school night and missed the game.

The ACL Cubs lost to Giants Orange, 8-1. Kevin Alcantara homered for the Cubs only run. The pair of drafted Arkansas Razorbacks, left fielder Christian Franklin and catcher Casey Opitz, both made their professional debuts and were both 1 for 3.

Last week I asked if you what you thought of the future of Cubs outfielder Rafael Ortega, at least over the next few seasons. A majority of 58% believe that Ortega’s future will be a positive one. Only six percent thought that he’d turn back into a pumpkin by next year and 35% thought he’d be just “meh,” which I guess makes him a valuable player for the Cubs at the moment.

Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. Feel free to skip to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings. But you’ll make Clark the Cub cry.

I’m going to admit that my tastes in jazz tend towards sixty years ago, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the modern masters. This one is from current superstar bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding and her 12 Little Spells album from 2018. In this concept album, Spalding records 12 original songs with each song corresponding to a part of the body. Yeah, it’s a bit out there, but good jazz is always about pushing boundaries.

This track, which is a real music video of the kind that used to get played on TV, is “Touch In Mine,” Spalding’s song that corresponds to the fingers.

I watched a couple of old movies this weekend. They weren’t bad, but neither of them really spoke to me. What, do you think I’m going to watch the Cubs? OK, I did watch more of the Cubs than I care to admit. It’s painful, but I it’s like picking at a scab. You just get obsessed with it even though it hurts.

But as I wrote earlier, my daughter started school again today. She was having a really rough time with the summer being over, so she asked if she could watch a movie with me after school. Of course I said yes, and I asked her what kind of movie she wanted to watch. After some hemming and hawing, she said she wanted to watch 1989’s Studio Ghibli classic Kiki’s Delivery Service, directed by the master animator Hayao Miyazaki. It’s about a 13-year old girl witch who feels like an outsider and who is trying to figure out where she fits in the world. I have no idea why my 13-year-old daughter who feels like and outsider and who is trying to figure out where she fits in the world would have picked that particular film.

We watched the 1998 Disney dub of the film with Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman and Janine Garafalo and others doing the voice work because that was what was easily available on HBO Max. I’m sure my Japan-obsessed daughter would have watched the original with subtitles had it been offered to her.

If you’re not familiar with Miyazaki and the films of Studio Ghibli, they are gorgeous Japanese stories, almost always about children, painstakingly animated entirely by hand until recent years, when they have made allowances for computer animated enhancements. Along with Kiki’s, Miyazaki directed such classics as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and others.

Kiki is the 13-year-old daughter of a witch and when witches turn 13, they are expected to take a year away from their family and make their way in the world and hone their craft. Hey, it makes a little more sense than Dora’s parents letting their seven-year-old daughter wander around the jungle by herself with only a monkey and a talking backpack as her companions.

Anyway, Kiki’s only real skill at witchcraft is being able to fly on a broom, so she says her goodbyes to her family and heads off to the big city. As is common when young women land in the big city, she finds it to be uncaring and not very tolerant of her differences. At least at first. She eventually runs into a kindly bakery owner and her husband who take her in and, since her only real skill is her ability to fly around on a broom, she starts up a delivery service. She also catches the eye of a boy her age who is obsessed with flying and flying machines. However, she treats him quite poorly as she doesn’t think it proper for a boy to speak to a girl to whom he has not been properly introduced.

Oh, and she has a talking black cat, voiced by Phil Hartman in the English version.

I won’t go into the entire plot of the film, but she delivers packages and meets many kind people and some that aren’t so kind. She also gets into a bit of trouble with a murder of crows (and yes, a group of crows are called a “murder”) and has an off-and-on relationship with the boy.

But it’s really a story about a girl finding out what she’s really about and where she fits in. I think most of us can remember that age and having those feelings, and it really hits home for me watching my daughter go through it at the moment—especially since the pandemic has meant that she really hasn’t been able to go out and explore who she is right now. It’s a hard age for her and I hope the film made her realize that she’s not the only person who feels that way. I know she said that she loved the picture.

I also want to praise the way that Miyazaki in particular and the Japanese in general are willing to let a children’s movie be just about the film. There are a lot of good movies for kids being made in the United States these days by Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, etc, but I feel like every single one of them needs to hit the kids over the head with a moral lesson. It’s as if there is no value in getting lost in a story unless the kids learn some kind of life lesson. That’s not to say there aren’t some themes and lessons in Kiki’s Delivery Service, but they are subtle and never get in the way of the story of a young girl who just wants to live her life.

Here’s the opening scene of Kiki’s Delivery Service. If you’re not familiar with Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, you can get a good sense of the beauty of the animation. Kiki’s isn’t anywhere near as creative and “out-there” as Miyazaki’s later works like Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle, but it’s still quite beautiful and effectively done. In many ways, it is reminiscent of the stuff that Disney did in their early years when Walt Disney was still alive and took an active role in making the animated features.

If you’ve got a 13-year-old daughter like I do, then you should definitely watch this movie with her. And you should probably just watch it anyway.

Welcome back to all of you who skip the music and the movies. Although I’m not sure why any of you would want to focus entirely on baseball at the moment when you could take your mind off of it with a song and a movie.

Things are really terrible for the Cubs at the moment, I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. But I agree with Al in that the Cubs are not going to go into a 2012 to 2014 “tank” in which the goal was to lose as many games as possible and amass talent for three to four years in the future. The Ricketts cannot let all their real estate and broadcasting investments go to waste as Cubs fans tune out a series of 95 to 100 loss teams.

Clearly the first thing the Cubs are going to have to do is address the problem with their starting pitching. Even before the bottom fell out of the season in June, starting pitching, other than Kyle Hendricks, was a problem. And if the Cubs are going to be respectable in 2022, they are going to need a much more solid rotation than they have now.

Next year, the Cubs still have Hendricks to anchor the rotation. After that? A lot of questions. Adbert Alzolay has looked good at times and hasn’t looked good at times. He’s also had some injury issues throughout his career. There’s Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson, but who knows how good they’ll be in the rotation? Alec Mills is Alec Mills. That’s not a bad thing to be, but he’s really only a back-end of the rotation option.

On Saturday, Patrick Mooney published an article in The Athletic that looked at some possibilities for the Cubs rotation in 2022. (Sub. req.) Max Scherzer is the number one name on the list of free agent pitchers, but he’s also going to be 37 next year and he’s going to be looking for an expensive, multi-year deal. If the Cubs were contenders next season, I’d say Scherzer was worth it. But if the Cubs are just shooting for “respectable” in 2022 and contending in 2023 and 2024, then Scherzer might not be the best option.

Mooney dropped the names of four upcoming free agent pitchers and suggested that the Cubs could sign two of them. Those four pitchers are:

  • Jon Gray
  • Robbie Ray
  • Marcus Stroman
  • Noah Syndergaard

Now Mooney said the Cubs could sign two of these pitchers, but our poll only allows for one vote. So I’m going to ask you: Which one would you most like the Cubs to sign for 2022? Gray has pitched well this year in the thin air of Colorado. He’s also the player the Cubs would have drafted in 2013 had the Astros taken Kris Bryant with the first pick in the draft.

Ray and Stroman have battled injuries over the past few seasons, but both have been healthy and very good in 2021. Syndergaard has the most upside of any of them, but he also hasn’t pitched since 2019 after Tommy John surgery. His comeback has been slow and there have been setbacks due to elbow inflammation. Obviously the Cubs would want to see his medicals before signing Syndergaard.

So which one of these pitchers would you most like the Cubs to sign for 2022? And you can leave in the comments the second pitcher you would like the team to sign if you want.


Which free agent pitcher would you most like to see the Cubs sign for 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Jon Gray
    (65 votes)
  • 6%
    Robbie Ray
    (17 votes)
  • 21%
    Marcus Stroman
    (53 votes)
  • 28%
    Noah Syndergaard
    (71 votes)
  • 1%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (4 votes)
  • 16%
    None of them!
    (41 votes)
251 votes total Vote Now

Thanks for stopping by. Misery loves company. We’ll be back again tomorrow night with another edition of BCB After Dark.