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BCB After Dark: The state of the National

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The hidden night spot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks you who the NL MVP should be.

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the secret club for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re always glad to have you stop by. Bring your own beverage. We validate parking. The hostess will seat you now.

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 snapped their seven-game losing streak by beating the Pirates tonight, 3-2. Kyle Hendricks bounced back from his last two starts, although the win went to Adam Morgan. The big hero was Willson Contreras with a two-run double in the seventh inning. Also, Trent Giambrone got his first major league hit on his first major league pitch. It’s all downhill from here for Giambrone.

Last time I asked you who should win the American League Most Valuable Player Award, since some have recently suggested that there’s a controversy over who should win it. There doesn’t seem to be much controversy with you as 90% voted for Shohei Ohtani. Only 9% felt the other candidate, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., should take home the award.

Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question if you want. You won’t hurt my feelings.


It’s been a while since I put any Thelonious Monk in this space. I think the only song of his that I’ve featured is “‘Round Midnight,” which makes sense for the theme of this space.

So tonight’s track is Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser” from the 1967 album of the same name. Monk had been playing this song for years and had recorded it a few times before this version. Miles Davis did a cover of it as well.

This features Monk on piano, Charlie Rouse on tenor sax, Larry Gales on bass and Ben Riley on drums.


I can only do one movie essay a week (I don’t like calling them “reviews”) and stay sane, so on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, I try to open the floor for you to carry the discussion.

Tonight I’m going to try something different. I’m going to let you pick which movie I write about next week. I have three films picked out and I’m going to let you vote for which one you want me to write about.

All three movies are romantic comedies because my overall mood at the moment is not conducive to something dark and disturbing. I need something light.

I’ve chosen three films, each one from a different era. I’ve seen all three films since the pandemic started and all three films are available on streaming services so I can watch them again before I put something to paper. Or pixels, I guess.

I probably should have picked a pre-code rom-com, but I can’t find one readily available for streaming that I haven’t already written about. But I’ve got one pick from “Classic Hollywood,” one from the transition period of the late-50s, early-60s and one from the “New Hollywood” of the 1970s.

The candidates are:

The Shop Around the Corner (1940). Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart star as two co-workers in a Budapest store who can’t stand each other in person. At the same time, they’re falling in love with each other as anonymous pen pals. It’s certainly the darkest of the three, although it’s not that dark. This film has been remade a few times, most recently as the 1998 Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan vehicle, You’ve Got Mail, which is the most nineties title ever.

Pillow Talk (1959). Directed by Michael Gordon. The first and best of the three Rock Hudson/Doris Day/Tony Randall comedies. Hudson stars as a Lothario songwriter who shares a telephone party line with Day, an interior decorator. (If you don’t know what a party line is, look it up. They’ve been extinct for decades.) Although the two fight like cats and dogs over the phone, Hudson decides to seduce Day through subterfuge when he finds out how attractive she is. Randall, as always in these films, plays the awkward “third wheel” friend of Hudson’s character. He’s also in love with Day’s character.

What’s Up, Doc? (1972). Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Bogdanovich’s modern updating of the screwball comedies of the 1930s. Ryan O’Neal, playing a nerdy and awkward music professor from Iowa, finds his life upended in San Francisco by a wacky and impulsive perpetual student, played by Barbra Streisand, as well as a bizarre espionage plot. The movie also features Madeline Kahn in her first film role as O’Neal’s demanding and shrill fiancée.

So which film do you want me to write about next week? Of course, it would help if you made the case for your vote in the comments. I reserve the right to go against the popular vote and pick my own choice, but I probably won’t do that unless I have a very good reason. (Like it got pulled from streaming at the end of the month.) I’ll probably end up writing about all three of these films eventually anyway.

Poll

Which rom-com should Josh write about next week?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    The Shop Around the Corner
    (22 votes)
  • 15%
    Pillow Talk
    (6 votes)
  • 30%
    What’s Up, Doc?
    (12 votes)
40 votes total Vote Now

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and the films.

Since we did the American League MVP Award voting last time, it’s probably a good time to look at the National League MVP race. The NL race is actually more interesting, since there really isn’t an obvious candidate. No one in the NL has 45 home runs, 24 steals and an ERA of 3.18, for example.

But Jay Jaffe outlined the candidates for the NL MVP in an article for Fangraphs that was published earlier on Wednesday. The twists and turns of the race are fascinating as well, but that’s irrelevant for tonight’s vote. But it is interesting how injuries knocked the Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Mets Jacob deGrom out of the MVP race and the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. from overwhelming favorite to underdog.

I think this race is so close that the final four games of the season could make a difference. But I need something for you to vote on today, so we’re going to vote on it now.

The first candidate is the Nationals’ Juan Soto, who has been torrid in September and leads the league in WAR. The knock on Soto was that he’s put up most of his stats when the Nats were long out of the race and he wasn’t that great early in the season when it mattered most.

The second candidate is the Phillies’ Bryce Harper, who has also been hot in the second half and has been the leader of the drive to get Philadelphia back in the playoff race. The downsides to his case is his defense, which rates as poor, and the fact that it looks like the Phillies’ late pennant drive has fallen short.

Next up is Fernando Tatis Jr., who was the overwhelming favorite to take home the award earlier this season. On a per-game basis, he’s been even more valuable than Soto. The issue is that Tatis has missed about 30 games with injuries. The Padres have also faded badly in the second half and will miss the playoffs, but that hasn’t really been Tatis’s fault as he’s played well.

The fourth candidate is Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner, who has been one of the best players in the league since he was traded to Los Angeles at the deadline. He was just as good in Washington the first four months of the season as well. Turner is the first candidate likely to make the playoffs, if that’s important to you. The downside is that “one of the best” isn’t “the best” and he hasn’t been as good as the first three names on the list. Plus, he was in Washington the first four months when the Nats fell out of the race.

The fifth and final candidate I’m putting in the voting is Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. Crawford re-tooled his swing this past winter and as a result, he’s having the best season of his career at age 34. He’s also been the best player on the best team in the National League all season, and some think that’s the definition of MVP. But the numbers say that Crawford hasn’t been as good as the first four players on this list and his WAR number by Fangraphs has him at 5th in the league. Baseball-Reference is harsher and doesn’t even have Crawford among the top ten.

I’m going to also include an “other” category, and that’s for anyone I didn’t mention. It includes Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler, who leads all players, hitters and pitchers, in WAR according to B-R. On the other hand, there’s Fangraphs, who have Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes ahead of Wheeler for the top value among all players, hitters or pitchers.

In any case, if you vote other, it would be nice if you explained your vote in the comments. Or you can explain your vote if you voted for one of the five that I nominated.

Poll

The NL MVP should be . . .

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Juan Soto
    (33 votes)
  • 37%
    Bryce Harper
    (44 votes)
  • 6%
    Fernando Tatis Jr.
    (7 votes)
  • 7%
    Trea Turner
    (9 votes)
  • 16%
    Brandon Crawford
    (19 votes)
  • 3%
    Other (explain in comments)
    (4 votes)
116 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so very much for stopping by. We’ll be back again next week with the first postseason edition of BCB After Dark. Maybe we’ll show the games on TV in the background while the musicians play. With the sound turned off, of course. Be sure to tip your waitstaff on the way out.