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BCB After Dark: How high will the Cubs go?

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks if the Cubs will set any marks for contract value this winter.

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the swingin’ spot for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. It’s so good to see you again this evening. Come on in out of the cold. We can take your coat for you if you’d like. There are still a few good tables available. Come on in and relax. Bring your own beverage.

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.

Last week I asked you if you thought the Cubs would sign free agent first baseman José Abreu. By a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent, you think Abreu is going to trade the South Side for the North Side. He’ll look good in pinstripes.

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

There’s a PBS documentary on the life of bassist Ron Carter that aired last month that I still haven’t gotten around to watching. I still have a few more days to watch it, so maybe I’ll watch while you read this. But if you want to see it, don’t delay any longer as it’s only available online through Friday.

But here’s a video from October of 1964 that features a Ron Carter bass solo. Oh, and it just so happens that there is also a tenor saxophone solo by Wayne Shorter and a trumpet solo by Miles Davis. It’s also got Herbie Hancock on piano and Tony Williams on drums. This is the second great Miles Davis Quintet. If the first Quintet was the equivalent of the Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig “Murderers’ Row” Yankees, this second one is the Gehrig/Joe DiMaggio Yankees teams of the 1930s. They are both of unrivaled greatness.

I don’t really have a movie question for today, so I’m just going to say a few things and encourage you to add your two cents.

I don’t know which movie I’m going to write about later this week, but I did watch the Robert Wise-directed noir from 1951 The House on Telegraph Hill. I may write about it on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I will say it is one odd film. I liked it and I think it’s worth watching, but it’s strange. I was not expecting there to be a Holocaust sub-plot to the entire movie. It’s a Holocaust subplot that kind of glosses over the details, which is good, I guess, because the details they do give don’t make a lot of sense. And in the great Hollywood tradition of homogenizing things for middle America, they don’t even mention the word “Jewish.” Indeed, it seems that the main character is not Jewish at all, although that’s not clear. Which means it’s also not clear why she was in Belsen.

Maybe I’ll say more about that film later in the week. But like I said, it’s odd.

I thought I’d make a quick plug for another film from the same era, 1950’s Gun Crazy, which starred Peggy Cummin and John Dall. Most importantly, it was written by Dalton Trumbo during the blacklist and credited to novelist Millard Kaufman instead. Kaufman was also one of the creators of the “Mr. Magoo” character, which as far as I know Trumbo had nothing to do with.

Gun Crazy is one of those films that Trumbo churned out for the tiny independent King Brothers Pictures while he was blacklisted. Trumbo wasn’t the only blacklisted writer churning out cheap B-movies for this tiny studio during the 1950s, so despite their tiny budget and the need for ticket-selling subject matter, they were often turning out films that were the equal of anything the major studios were producing. Gun Crazy was one of them.

Dall plays Bart, a man with a lifelong obsession with guns. Despite his generally-peaceful nature, his desire for guns gets him on the wrong side of the law. After getting out of prison and swearing to go straight, Bart meets a beautiful sharpshooting carnival performer and everything he lusts after is right there in one package. Unfortunately, Annie (Cummins) isn’t quite as law-abiding as Dall’s Bart character. A Bonnie-and-Clyde-style crime spree follows. The moral of this story is the same one a lot of these films have: “Dames is trouble.”

If that sounds like a recipe for a bad film, it is. It certainly has all the elements of a trashy film. But somehow, the actors and director Joseph H. Lewis do more than make it work, they make it good. And they’re able to make it work because Trumbo wrote a script that was way too good for the subject matter. And he almost certainly wrote it that way in his bathtub, because Trumbo did most of his writing while taking a bath.

Maybe I’ll write a little more about Gun Crazy another time, but it is a film worth seeking out if you’re into that kind of film. Here’s the scene where Bart meets Annie. I love how the caption on YouTube describes this as a “meet-cute,” as if this were some kind of rom-com. I don’t know. Maybe in a twisted way, it is.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and cinema.

As Al wrote earlier today, the Cubs officially released Jason Heyward. Certainly his career on the field in Chicago did not live up to expectations, but the Cubs did win their first World Series in 108 years the year after they signed Heyward and I don’t think anyone would trade that for having not spent the money on Heyward. Plus, as everyone agrees, Heyward was a massive presence both in the clubhouse and the community. I’ll add my thanks to Jason for everything he’s done for the organization.

But there is the matter of that contract. The Cubs gave Heyward an eight-year, $184 million deal that still has one year and $22 million to go. In retrospect, it didn’t work out. Now if you ask me could I take it back and risk not winning the 2016 World Series, I’d say give Heyward every cent and take the certainty of the title. But the Cubs could have spent that money better. Again, in retrospect. It didn’t seem like a bad deal at the time.

But I’m not going to ask you if you think Heyward’s deal was a good one. Nope. I am calling attention to the fact that $184 million is the largest contract ever given out in Cubs history. If the Cubs are going to sign free agents Trea Turner or Carlos Correa (and maybe even Xander Bogaerts), they’re going to have to offer more than they gave to Heyward.

So tonight’s question is: Do you think the Cubs will have a new largest contract in team history by Opening Day? Will they give anyone more than the $184 million (no matter how many years) this winter?

To make it more interesting, the second-largest contract in Cubs history is the six-years and $155 million they gave to Jon Lester. That deal seems to have worked out. The third-largest one was the eight-years and $136 million given to Alfonso Soriano. That one was more mixed. If the Cubs don’t sign anyone to a contract bigger than Heyward’s this winter, will they top Lester’s deal? How about Fonzie’s deal?

I’m just asking about the total value of the deal this here. If the Cubs manage to sign someone to ten years and $200 million, that still counts as beating Heyward even though it’s less money per year. I seriously doubt the Cubs will sign anyone to a contract that long, but I just wanted to make the parameters of the question clear.

So will the Cubs sign a free agent to their largest deal ever this hot stove season? Their second-largest? Or maybe their third-largest? Or maybe Jed Hoyer will stick to his “intelligent spending” and not even approach those three contracts? What do you think?


Will the Cubs set a new mark for total contract value this winter?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Largest ever. (More than Heyward’s $186M)
    (152 votes)
  • 15%
    Second-largest (More than Lester’s $155M)
    (46 votes)
  • 6%
    Third-largest (More than Soriano’s $136M)
    (18 votes)
  • 25%
    No. They will not pass any of those figures.
    (72 votes)
288 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so much for stopping by this evening. If you checked anything, let us get it for you now. Stay warm out there. Get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow night for another edition of BCB After Dark.