Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the coolest club for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. The Winter Meetings are wrapping up, but the festivities will continue around here. It’s “California cool” out there, but things are hot in here. If you’ve got a coat, let us check it for you. There’s no cover charge tonight. A few tables are still available in the second row. There’s a two-drink minimum, but it’s 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 night—in an article I hurried to finish because I thought the Taillon announcement might not come until this morning—I asked you if the Cubs were going to sign one of the three remaining free agent “top” shortstops. Thirty-two percent of you think that free agent Dansby Swanson will be a Cubs in the very near future. I think that’s a good gamble—the Cubs are interested and his fiancée Mallory Pugh plays for the Red Stars. He might not be the Cubs’ first choice, but he might be the one who is most willing to come here. Another 23 percent of you thought the Cubs will sign Xander Bogaerts—who tonight we know is going to the Padres. Only 14 percent of you said the Cubs would get coal in their stockings this Christmas.
By the way, the 58 percent of you who voted last week that the Cubs would not make a “major” signing at the Winter Meetings turned out to be wrong. By the terms I defined “major” by in that article, Jameson Taillon counts as a major signing.
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.
Today’s jazz track comes from the Airmen of Note, the official jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force. Today I heard legendary jazz DJ Mark Ruffin call them “The best jazz group the US taxpayers can buy.” There’s a story here about why jazz is more popular in Europe than America, and much of it has to do with the way the State Department (and other US government agencies) promoted jazz there as an authentic American artform that symbolized and promoted freedom and democracy during the Cold War. (I mean, it’s not like they were wrong on that point.) The creation of the Airmen of Note in 1950 was certainly a part of that effort.
So here’s the Airmen of Note performing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”
So in our first contest of the BCB Winter Noir Classic, we’ve got our first upset! Kiss Me Deadly, the 26-seed, triumphed over the sixth-seed, Nightmare Alley. I think a lot of that had to do with the absolutely killer trailer that Kiss Me Deadly had. As I said yesterday, had I seen the trailer before I did the rankings, I would have ranked Kiss Me Deadly higher.
Today’s contest is between the eighth-seed, 1944’s Laura, and the 25th-seed, 1953’s The Hitch-Hiker.
Laura: Directed by Otto Preminger. Starring Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews and Clifton Webb. An ambitious and gorgeous young advertising executive (Tierney) is murdered and a detective (Andrews) becomes obsessed with her as he investigates her death. There is big twist to this film in the middle, and I wrote about it here last year. Webb is magnificent as a older newspaper columnist who had been Laura’s mentor. Also features Vincent Price and Judith Anderson.
Here’s the trailer for Laura.
The Hitch-Hiker: Directed by Ida Lupino. Starring Edmond O’Brien, William Talman and Frank Lovejoy. The only film on our list directed by a woman is also the only American classic film noir ever directed by a woman. Loosely based on the story of real-life spree killer Billy Cook. Talman plays Emmett Myers, who has been hitchhiking across the country and robbing and killing whomever picks him up. When the police start hunting for him, Myers decides to kidnap two hunting buddies (O’Brien and Lovejoy) who pick him up and use them as hostages to drive him to safety in Mexico.
I can’t find an official trailer for The Hitch-Hiker, although the entire film is available on YouTube if you want to watch it. This appears to be a fan-made preview and it’s not terrible.
Laura or The Hitch-Hiker?
This poll is closed
Welcome back to everyone who skips the movies and music.
The Cubs signed right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon to a four-year, $68 million deal yesterday. I think we’ve covered that story pretty well around here, and be sure to read Sara Sanchez’s take on the signing if you haven’t already.
That’s interesting. Two right-handers were signed within a few hours of each other to NL teams with less than $4 million over four years separating the deals. Both pitchers came from the two New York teams. Both pitchers have struggled repeatedly to stay healthy over the course of their careers, but both have been healthy and productive the past two seasons. Walker clearly had the better 2022 season, although he was helped by pitching his home games in a better pitchers’ park whereas Taillon pitched home games in a park that is particularly hard on right-handed fly-ball pitchers like him.
So tonight’s question is, who got the better deal? The Cubs or the Phillies? You can read this Fangraphs article on the Walker signing and this one on the Taillon signing should you wish. In the one one Taillon, author Justin Choi writes “Chicago has now arguably the better starter of the two at a discounted price.” Do you agree? Or to put it another way, assuming Walker was willing, would you have rather the Cubs spent the extra $4 million to get him instead of Taillon?
Which signing was the better deal?
Which signing was the better deal for their team?
This poll is closed
Phillies sign Taijuan Walker
Cubs sign Jameson Taillon
Thank you so very much for stopping by this week. We’re so glad you decided to spend part of the Winter Meetings with us. I hope that you don’t wait until the next Winter Meetings to join us again. If you checked anything, let us get that for you now. Check around your table to make sure you didn’t forget anything. Recycle your cans and bottles. Tip your waitstaff. Get home safely. And join us again next week for another edition of BCB After Dark.