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BCB After Dark: What’s Happ-ening?

The happening spot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks you if the Cubs should be trying to sign Ian Happ to an extension.

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MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the sweet spot for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re glad you could stop by for the celebration party tonight. The Cubs have been doing pretty well lately and so have we. Please come on in and have a tasty celebratory beverage—that you brought yourself. No cover charge. Plenty of good tables still available.

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 blasted the Pirates 9-0 tonight. My daughter has this thing on Monday nights now and I missed the first inning. Driving back from dropping her off, I turned on Pat and Ron to listen to the game on the way home. I’d only missed one inning. It was already 8-0.

And how about Wade Miley?

Last week I asked you if you thought the Cubs or the Red Sox would finish with the better record at the end of the season. By a vote of 63 to 37 percent, you thought that the Red Sox would come out on top by season’s end. Of course, it’s not a competition. I take that back. It is a competition, but the Cubs and Red Sox aren’t directly competing with each other.

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

Tonight we’ve got a classic from Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers from 1964. It’s the bossa nova tune “Pensativa.” This is perhaps the most famous recording of that bossa nova standard.

So if you like a little Brazilian flair to your jazz, here’s Blakey on drums, Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and Cedar Walton on piano with “Pensativa.”

I’m going to write about the 1941 film High Sierra this week, which was directed by Raoul Walsh and starred Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart. But as I said, my daughter has this thing on Mondays now so unless I get the movie essay done on Sunday, I often don’t have time to write a full essay. Since I just watched the movie on Sunday, I’m not ready to write a full piece on it yet. Additionally, there are several short films on the Criterion Channel about High Sierra and I haven’t watched those yet. My secret for sounding smart when I write about movies is that I watch those supplemental materials about the film before I put pixels to paper.

I thought for tonight I would write a little about Humphrey Bogart and how he came about starring in High Sierra. Bogart came out of a wealthy New York family and got his acting start on the New York stage mostly playing young wealthy dandies—not a stretch for him although he personally hated the pretensions that came with his social class. He was pretty familiar with those kinds of people though.

Although he had a few movie roles before that, Bogart’s big break was playing a sadistic gangster in the movie version of The Petrified Forest in 1936. Bogart had played the part on Broadway and when Warner Brothers wanted to make a film version, the play’s star Leslie Howard said he wouldn’t do it unless Bogart could reprise his role as Duke Mantee.

If you’ve seen The Petrified Forest, you know that Bogart steals the movie. Warner Brothers quickly got Bogart under contract, but they typecast him as a heavy and a gangster in B-movies. Bogart quickly grew tired of these supporting roles, but under the studio system of the time he had little recourse. In fact, Bogart got almost every role that George Raft turned down, who had also grown tired of playing gangsters.

(There is a lot of interesting material out there about the relationship between George Raft and the modern image of the gangster. Raft wasn’t one, but he grew up with a lot of future gangsters, including Bugsy Siegel. Raft’s portrait of gangsters in movies was quickly copied by real gangsters. The whole look of The Godfather is a bunch of guys trying to dress like George Raft.)

Back to Bogart. Bogart found out that Warner Brothers had bought the rights to the novel High Sierra, which was written by W. R. Burnett, who had also written the book that Little Caesar was based on. Sure, it was going to be another gangster picture, but Roy Earle was a sympathetic gangster. A killer, to be sure, but one with a soft spot for people who were down on their luck. On top of that, the part of Roy Earle was the lead. Bogart had never had first billing in a picture before and he wanted it badly.

Bogart immediately started campaigning for the part, but the producers at Warner Brothers weren’t interested. They offered the part to Paul Muni, who played the lead in Scarface. Muni turned it down.

Next up was Raft. Warners offered the part to Raft and Bogart knew that if Raft turned it down, he was likely to get offered it next. So he started bad-mouthing the role to Raft, telling him the role was no good and that Raft didn’t want to play another gangster.

It worked. Raft turned the part down and Bogart got it. He finally got his first lead.

Except he didn’t. The studio still didn’t believe in Bogart and insisted that Bogart’s co-star Ida Lupino get top billing. Lupino’s Marie isn’t even in the first half-hour of the film—the story of High Sierra is the story of Roy Earle. But Lupino was a bigger star than Bogart, so her name went first.

Bogart was furious about this, but he never took it out on Lupino. She said that Bogart never said a word to her about it and was nothing but a helpful gentleman on the set. She said she didn’t find out how angry Bogart was until much later. (Or course, Bogart didn’t blame Lupino for the decision to put her name first.)

High Sierra was a hit, and no one thought it was because of Lupino’s portrayal of Marie. (Although she’s quite good.) Bogart finally got lead billing in his next picture, The Maltese Falcon. He would never again get anything less than top billing for the rest of his life.

So if you want to talk a bit about some of your favorite Bogart movies, you can do so. Everyone loves Casablanca, don’t they? (If you don’t, please tell us why.) Then there’s The African Queen, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, the aforementioned Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not . . .man, there are too many to mention. But if you want to mention some, please do so.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies.

Cubs outfielder Ian Happ is having a nice season so far. The power hasn’t been there much as he only has two home runs and a .388 slugging percentage. That would be the lowest of his career if it holds. However, his batting average is .282 and even more impressively, his OBP is .405. His walk percentage is a career-high and his strikeout percentage is a career-low 21.4%. On top of that, both the stats and the eye test say that Happ is much improved as a left fielder. (The Athletic sub. req.) He’s not likely to win a Gold Glove out there, at least not this year, but the numbers say he’s been a net positive in left.

Cub fans have had a mixed relationship with Happ since he first arrived in the majors in 2017. There have been ups and downs to his career that I don’t think I need to go over with you.

There has been a lot of talk about Willson Contreras and his impending free agency and deservedly so. But after Contreras, Happ is the next player up with free agency on the horizon. He can test the market after the 2023 season.

That is, unless he signs an extension. And that’s tonight’s question: Should the Cubs try to sign Ian Happ to a long-term extension now?

On the positive side, Happ has been the best hitter on the Cubs this year not named Contreras or Suzuki. His career numbers indicate that he wouldn’t get a mega-contract and he’s still only 27 years old. A six-year extension (starting next year) would only take him to his age 34 season. Maybe he’d even sign a five-year deal.

If Happ has a breakout season this year or next, his price is going to be a lot higher than it is now. If you think Happ is on the verge of being an All-Star-type player, then the time to sign him to an extension is now.

On the downside, Happ hasn’t exactly been consistent over the course of his career. Maybe this good start to the year is just a flash in pan. He’s had good starts before that get paired with miserable finishes. (2018, in case you’ve forgotten.) If the Cubs sign Happ to, for example, a five-year, $110 million deal and he turns back into a pumpkin, that’s going to be an ugly contract. Maybe he’ll sign for less than that, but not a ton less.

I’m going to assume that everyone would sign Happ to an extension if he agreed to a team-friendly deal. I’m also going to assume that everyone is going to say “no” if Happ is asking for eight years and $200 million. So the basic question is do you think the Cubs should try to sign Happ to a market-rate extension? You can tell us what you think a fair extension is in the comments, but vote on what you think it is. I personally think what I wrote above is pretty close to fair. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less. But I think that’s in the ballpark.

As always, share your reasoning in the comments.

So should the Cubs sign Ian Happ to a long-term (five-to-six years) contract extension?


Should the Cubs try to sign Ian Happ to a contract extension?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    (125 votes)
  • 40%
    (85 votes)
210 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so much for stopping by. If you checked anything, we’ll get it for you now. Be sure to tip your waitstaff. Get home safely. Tell your friends. And join us again tomorrow night for another edition of BCB After Dark.