Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the hole in the wall to drown your sorrows, catering to night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. It’s bring your own bottle, but I hope you brought a big one. We’ll start the show shortly. Be sure to treat your waitstaff kindly—they’re Cubs fans as well.
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.
Today was a needed off-day for the Cubs as they try to assess what they have after the carnage of Friday’s trade deadline. The minors are off on Monday as well except for the Arizona Complex League, where the Cubs pounded Brewers Blue 16-13. The guys in the Yu Darvish trade did well: both Ismael Mena and Owen Caissie had two hits, including a home run for each of them and Reginald Precaido had two hits and one was a triple. Kevin Alcantara, acquired in the Anthony Rizzo deal, had two hits, including a double and a stolen base.
Last week, before I took my two-day vacation to Project Surf Camp, I asked you where you wanted Kris Bryant to end up. I know the winning answer would have been “Chicago Cubs,” but that wasn’t an option. Fortunately, the winning answer was the San Francisco Giants, and 21% of you got your wish there. Second place was the Tampa Bay Rays, with 16%. Third place was the White Sox with 11%. Every contending team got at least one vote, but I should remind you that there was nothing preventing fans of other teams from reading the article and voting for Sparkles to go to their team.
By the way, the surfing was awesome. Or at least it was for our daughter. And it was for us watching her surf from the beach.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip to the baseball question at the end if you’d like. You won’t hurt my feelings.
I was thinking about how I got into jazz back in the nineties. I didn’t grow up playing an instrument and developing a love of it like many of you have. I had basically grown tired of the direction that rock music had gone in that period. But a lot of the rock music I listened to in the late-eighties was part of the UK trend of “sophisti-pop,” which wasn’t jazz but it was at least “jazz-adjacent” stuff. So it wasn’t a hard jump when I was in graduate school and the local NPR station played nothing but jazz after midnight. I was up many a night after midnight studying, writing or grading papers and I often turned on the jazz to keep me company late at night. I gradually learned to love the music I was listening to.
There were a few reasons I was thinking of that, but one reason is tonight’s performance by Barcelona artists Andrea Motis and the Joan Chamorro Quartet. Motis is 26 and I realized that I’ve been listening to jazz longer than she’s been alive. Joan Chamarro runs a music school in Barcelona and Motis was one of his students.
But here’s a jazz cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” As I’ve said before, I think it helps to learn to like jazz when you’re listening to songs that you’re already familiar with.
When it comes to “cool” and style, no actor represented that better in the Sixties than Steve McQueen. And no film embodies the “cool” factor of McQueen more than 1968’s The Thomas Crown Affair. It’s by no means McQueen’s best movie, but it has a certain style that no other work in his oeuvre can match.
The Thomas Crown Affair is a heist film with a kinda love story between McQueen and Faye Dunaway stuck in the middle. (Maybe “lust story” would be a better description.) McQueen is Thomas Crown, a millionaire Boston businessman who organizes bank robberies for sport. Basically, he does it because he’s bored with being a successful millionaire. He also wants to prove that he’s smarter than everyone else. So he’s a psychopath? Nah, the movie never delves into the moral dimension of Thomas Crown’s behavior. He’s just Steve McQueen who drives cool cars, flies cool gliders, plays golf and polo and looks like Steve McQueen.
After pulling off a successful heist, the insurance company brings in Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway), who is determined to catch the mastermind behind the heist. She’s motivated both by the reward money she’d get for successfully cracking the case as well as her fierce determination to prove that she’s smarter than whomever did the crime.
Anderson immediately figures out that Thomas Crown did the heist. She’s right, but how she figured it out beyond “She’s a genius” is a mystery to us. But Vicki can’t prove Thomas is behind the crime, so a game of cat-and-mouse between the two begins as Vicki tries to land proof of Thomas’ guilt and he amuses himself by teasing out the crime.
The two become attracted to each other, mostly out of the mutual respect that they have for their brains and determination. Also because they look like Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. This leads to a famous chess match/love scene. Finally, Thomas challenges Vicki by telling her that he’s going to rob another bank and she won’t be able to catch him. Who will win at the end? Is there really any doubt?
The plot of this movie is pretty inconsequential. Roger Ebert called it “possibly the most under-plotted, underwritten, over-photographed film of the year” in a largely-negative review at the time.
But oh, what a movie this is to look at. Beyond the cool shots of cars, horses, gliders and the city of Boston in the late-Sixties, director Norman Jewison employed a brand-new split-screen technique called the “Multi-dynamic image technique.” McQueen saw the technique in action at Expo ‘67 and wanted to use it for his next film. We may be used to these kinds of multi-screen images in modern video, but this is long before digital video and computer-aided film editing. This was a revolutionary technique and it looks terrific even today.
If you don’t believe me that is still looks great, just watch this scene.
The film was re-made in 1999 with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. For a film with a pretty thin plot with a millionaire narcissist at the center that thrives entirely on look and style, it seems to be a pretty odd choice to remake. But apparently there’s a second re-make in the works that’s in “development hell” at the moment.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies. I hope you all had a pleasant weekend and you didn’t obsess too much about your favorite baseball team trading away all of your favorite players.
So I’m asking you to collectively grade all the deals the Cubs made last week. If you want to think of them as a grade for team president Jed Hoyer you can, but I’m not asking the question that way. What I basically want you to do is stick a grade on the trades. Did the Cubs come out better or worse? I’ll let you define what those terms mean.
Obviously this isn’t a fair question as we’re really not going to know how the deals grade out for four to five years. If Kevin Alcantara ends up winning the MVP Award in 2025, then the Rizzo trade ends up as an “A.” If he never makes it out of Double-A, then it’s probably an “F.”
But we don’t have the benefit of hindsight yet. But get out your crystal ball and tell me, what grade do you think we’ll be giving these deals in five years? Did the Cubs trade away two months of some declining players for future All-Stars? Or did beloved franchise icons get dealt for a bag of magic beans? (And there’s no Kris Bryant at the top of this beanstalk either.)
What collective grade do you give the deals the Cubs made last week?
This poll is closed
Thanks again for stopping by. I hope to see you again tomorrow with the shorter Tuesday night/Wednesday morning edition of BCB After Dark.