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BCB After Dark: The dregs of the Central

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks you which NL Central team will roar first—the Reds or the Pirates?

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the after-holiday after-party for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. I hope the weather didn’t disrupt your holiday plans. It’s cold out there, so come on in and get warm. We can take your coat for you. Things are getting back to normal around here. There’s a few tables available near the heater. Grab a chair and join us around the hot stove. The show will start shortly. 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 before the holidays, I asked you which Cubs player’s jersey would you like to receive as a gift. It seems like it’s Nico’s team right now because 30 percent of you said that you’d most like to get a Nico Hoerner jersey. The newest Cub, Dansby Swanson, got 18 percent with other players getting the other votes.

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.


Around my house, my wife insists that there are 12 days of Christmas and that Christmas doesn’t end until January 6. That means we’re in the second day or third day of Christmas right now, depending on when you’re reading this.

So that means I can play more Christmas jazz, right?

So here’s drummer Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers playing “A Night in Tunisia.” I have no idea how it’s a Christmas song, but if “My Favorite Things” can be one, then “A Night in Tunisia” can be one. I have no idea when and where this performance is from, but since Blakey recorded “A Night in Tunisia” in 1960, I’m guessing it’s somewhere in that vicinity, give or take a couple of years. I’m also guessing the group isn’t actually playing in Tunisia.


It’s time for more of the BCB Winter Noir Classic. Last week, you had to choose between The Night of the Hunter and Touch of Evil. The only film Charles Laughton ever directed came out on top. The vote was reasonably close, but The Night of the Hunter was the clear winner.

Before I go on to the next matchup, I’ll mention that my wife got me a sticker of the movie poster for The Killers with Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner as a stocking stuffer for Christmas. The Killers got eliminated in our tournament by one vote last week.

Tonight’s matchup is between two films released just five month apart after World War II ended. They also both feature two of the classic femme fatales who get what they deserve in the end. Tonight’s matchup has The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) starring Lana Turner and John Garfield against Scarlet Street (1945), starring Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett. These are starting to get really tough for me because I really do love both of these films.

The Postman Always Rings Twice. Directed by Tay Garnett. Starring Lana Turner and John Garfield with Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames and Audrey Totter in supporting roles. Turner stars as Cora, one of the ultimate femme fatales in classic noirs. Garfield is Frank, a drifter who ends up working at a diner in a rural area outside of Los Angeles operated by Cora and her much-older husband Nick (Kellaway). Cora’s marriage to Nick is loveless—not that Nick knows that—and she quickly seduces Frank and makes plans to run off with him. Fearing they’d be broke if she divorced Nick, Cora convinces Frank to murder Nick instead so she’d inherit the diner. Which kind of sucks for Frank because he kind of likes Nick. (To be fair to Cora, Nick decides he’s going to sell the diner and move the two of them to a Canadian town located on the Arctic Ocean without asking her first. If that’s not reason for murder, I don’t know what is. But Cora planned to kill Nick even before that.) For a while, it looks like the two of them got away with it. But the postman always rings twice, right?

Here’s a trailer from the film. When you see Lana Turner in a white bathing suit, you can see how John Garfield might be tempted to commit murder for her.

Scarlet Street. Directed by Fritz Lang. Starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea. Robinson plays Chris Cross, and that name is sign that there are going to be a lot of twists and turns in the plot of this classic. Yet Lang makes sure that all of them make sense, as well as infusing the film with the look of both classic noir and German expressionism.

Chris is a meek store cashier who paints in his spare time and dreams of being a famous painter with a beautiful young wife. His current wife (Rosalind Ivan) is a nasty and abusive woman who is constantly belittling Chris and comparing him unfavorably to her late husband, a policeman who died trying to save a drowning woman.

Duryea plays Johnny, an abusive boyfriend of Kitty Marsh (Bennett). When Chris breaks up Johnny hitting Kitty in an alley one evening, Kitty decides to pretend that she didn’t know her assailant in the hope of getting a drink out of Chris. But when Chris starts to brag about his artwork (implying he’s more successful than he is), Kitty decides she’s got a big one on the line and let him think she’s interested in her romantically. Johnny gets in on the scam and tries to sell Chris’ artwork to fund his own get-rich-quick scheme. But the art dealers who see Chris’ paintings mistakenly believe that it’s Kitty who is painting the art. The twists and turns just keep piling on from there.

Here’s a trailer for Scarlet Street.

Poll

The Postman Always Rings Twice of Scarlet Street?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    The Postman Always Rings Twice
    (60 votes)
  • 20%
    Scarlet Street
    (15 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now

You have until Wednesday evening to vote. Up next is Night and the City (1950), directed by Jules Dassin and The Killing (1956), directed by Stanley Kubrick in his directorial debut. Please don’t confuse The Killing with The Killers, although both are excellent films.


Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.

When the talk comes around to whether or not the Cubs can make the playoffs in 2023, the comment inevitably comes that “The NL Central just isn’t that good.” I guess that’s an understatement. The Cardinals are certainly good, but they aren’t trying to build a superteam like the Dodgers, Mets, Braves, Padres and Phillies. They’re also kind of old, which means that the end for some of their starters could come anytime.

The Brewers are solid, especially their terrific pitching staff. But pitchers are volatile and get hurt. The Brewers also haven’t done a lot to improve over the winter and their offense is just “meh.”

The Cubs weren’t good last year, but they’ve made a lot of moves this winter to be more competitive. But when people say the NL Central isn’t good, they’re mostly referring to two teams that both went 62-100 last season, the Reds and the Pirates.

Both the Reds and the Pirates have rosters that reflect their ownership, both of which cry poverty and try to field a team with as small a payroll as they can possibly get away with. Take out the $25 million the Reds are paying franchise icon Joey Votto in the final year of his contract and probably the final year of his career, and their payrolls are both pretty similar. Or less than 20 percent of what the Mets payroll is going to be.

Still, there is some reason for both franchises to be optimistic. The Reds have some promising young pitchers in Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo. The Pirates have some promising young position players in Oneil Cruz and Ke’Bryan Hayes. They’ve also got outfielder Brian Reynolds for now, although he’s asked to be traded.

Both the Reds and the Pirates have top ten farm systems and arguably top five. There’s a lot of talent coming through their systems. Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but these two iconic franchises won’t be terrible forever. And they may be good sooner rather than later.

So tonight’s question is twofold. The first is “Which team will win more games in 2023—the Reds or the Pirates?” The second question is “Which team will make the playoffs first—the Reds or the Pirates?” The Pirates, believe it or not, have never won the NL Central, although they did make the playoffs three-straight years as a Wild Card from 2013 to 2015. The Reds made the expanded playoffs in 2020, but they haven’t reached the postseason in a full season since 2013 when they lost the Wild Card Game to . . .the Pirates.

So which of the “sad sack” NL Central teams will beat out the other one in 2023?

Poll

Who will have the better record in 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Cincinnati Reds
    (115 votes)
  • 45%
    Pittsburgh Pirates
    (96 votes)
211 votes total Vote Now

And which one will reach the playoffs first?

Poll

Which franchise will reach the playoffs first?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Cincinnati Reds
    (89 votes)
  • 53%
    Pittsburgh Pirates
    (103 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so very much for stopping by on this cold night. Even after the holiday, you’ve brought a little Christmas cheer to this place. Be sure to dress warm and get home safely tonight. If you need us to call a ride for you, let us know. Don’t forget to tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow night for more BCB After Dark.