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BCB After Dark: The most valuable Cub

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks who was the Cubs’ most valuable player this past year.

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images

It’s another groovy week here at BCB After Dark: the hippest hangout for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in out of the cool fall air. If you have a jacket you’d like us to check, we can do that for for you. There are still a few tables available, so grab one before they are gone. There’s no cover charge. Dress is casual. 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.

As someone who has been pretty neutral throughout the playoffs, after some lame Wild Card and Division Series, all I asked for was a Game 7 in the Championship Series. Not only did I get one Game 7, I’m getting two of them. The Rangers advanced to their first World Series since 2011 when they throttled the defending champion Astros tonight, 11-4 in Game 7. Outfielder Adolis García hit two more home runs, giving him five home runs and 15 RBI in the Series. That earned him ALCS MVP honors. The Rangers will now try to win their first World Series in franchise history, which dates back to the creation of the second Washington Senators in 1961.

All seven games in the ALCS were won by the road team. The only other time that’s happened was in the 2019 World Series, where once again, the Astros lost all four games in Houston to the Nationals and won all three on the road.

In the National League Championship Series, the Diamondbacks jumped on Phillies starter Aaron Nola for three runs in the second inning and cruised to a 5-1 win over Philadelphia to even up the series at three wins each. Ranger Suárez will start Game 7 for the Phillies and rookie Brandon Pfaadt goes for Arizona. The Phillies are looking for back-to-back NL pennants and the Diamondbacks are looking for their second NL pennant and first since 2001.

While my main rooting interest was for a Game 7, if you put a gun to my head and told me to pick a team, I would say I wanted the Rangers and Diamondbacks in the World Series. I got half my wish this evening. Let’s see if my other pick makes good on Tuesday night.

Last week, I asked you if the Cubs should make a trade for Padres outfielder Juan Soto, who appears to be on the trading block. Most of you thought that was a bad idea as 79 percent of you said Soto wouldn’t give the Padres what they probably want for Soto. I suppose more of you would probably take him at a lower cost, but there were a few of you who made it clear that you don’t want Soto at any reasonable cost.

Here’s the part about the music and movies. Feel free to skip ahead to the end if you’d like. You won’t hurt my feelings.

In keeping with the Halloween theme I’ve been doing here this month, tonight we have the Artie Shaw classic from 1938, “Nightmare.” This video sets the tune to some spooky images and dancing.

And yes, Artie Shaw was the first punk star. Maybe the first goth star too.

Tonight’s October horror film is a break from the pre-code classics that I have been watching. It’s Eyes Without a Face (Les yeux sans visage), a 1960 French production directed by Georges Franju and starring Pierre Brasseur and Alida Valli. Eyes Without a Face is an ambitious horror film that is much more about a look and a mood than it is about plot. It is also surprisingly graphic for a film from 1960, although the black-and-white cinematography makes it more palatable for the squeamish among us, such as myself. But above all, Franju finds a lot of beauty in terror as this film is scene after scene of dark poetry where the horror lies more inside the characters hearts than on the screen.

To the extent that Eyes Without a Face has a story, it’s about a Doctor Génessier (Brasseur), a renowned Parisian plastic surgeon who has been experimenting with skin grafts (heterograft) to restore the looks of horribly-disfigured patients. In a lecture, Génessier says the downside of his technique is that it currently only works when you take skin from one living creature to another.

You probably already see the potential for horror here.

What we quickly learn is that Génessier is going mad over the disfigurement of his own daughter, whose face was destroyed in an automobile accident that was his fault. His assistant Louise (Valli) has been kidnapping young women and bringing them back to his lab to have their faces unwillingly removed and transplanted upon his disfigured daughter Christiane (Édith Scob). Louise is fully loyal to Génessier because he was able to restore her face to its previous beauty, although Christiane points out that her disfigurement was not as serious as hers and her father has been unable to restore her face permanently despite several attempts.

While we do see the grotesque, disfigured face of Christiane eventually, the real creepy image is the mannequin-like mask that she wears throughout much of the film. The mask puts Christiane in what is known as the “uncanny valley,” or something that looks too human but at the same time, not human enough. People generally find that uncomfortable. And Scob deserves a lot of credit her for having to put in a performance in which emotion has to be conveyed almost entirely through body movement. She has no facial expressions when she wears the mask and when she does talk, which isn’t that often, the mask muffles what she says. The whole effect is quite disturbing, even if the woman hiding behind the mask isn’t a mask-wearing killing monster, but rather the object of our pity.

Most of the film is devoted to those kinds of unsettling images. There is a surprising amount of gore, but almost all of it is “surgical,” or the kind of stuff that you see in medical documentaries. The black blood was also kept to a minimum in order to play in as many countries as possible—that was an issue in 1960. But we do get closeups of Génessier cutting the faces of his victims and peeling off the skin. This is pretty intense, but the black-and-white distances the audience from the gore. At least it distanced me enough, and I am reasonably squeamish about such things.

But the gore and the mask are not the only unsettling images in Eyes Without a Face. Franju and legendary cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan employ the shadows of noir and the odd angles of German Expressionism to give Génessier’s house/lab a nightmare-like feel. (Schüfftan was the cinematographer on the 1927 silent classic Metropolis.) Génessier also has a large kennel of dogs (he uses them for experiments) and Franju uses their unseen barking in the distance serves as an extra soundtrack to punctuate the nightmarish horror. We do eventually get to see the dog kennels and they’re visually creepy as well, filled with dogs who aren’t too happy about vivisection by the hands of this insane physician.

I just keep coming back to that metaphor of the nightmare, which is what Eyes Without a Face represents. Franju connects scene after scene of unsettling images that build upon each other. A trip to the cemetery to dump an extra body in a tomb is a standout. It’s not scary so much as it makes your skin crawl. And that’s what most of this film is like. It’s a very French approach to horror. Eyes Without a Face came out the same year as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and the two films would certainly make an interesting double feature. There is quite the contrast between that Anglo-American approach to black-and-white horror to this kind of French New Wave take.

Several critics call the film “poetic,” in that it is more lyrical and moody than it is plot-driven. That’s a good description for it as well.

And before I wrap this up, I should acknowledge that rocker Billy Idol is a big fan of the film and he borrowed the title of the movie for one of his biggest hits. The soundtrack of Eyes Without a Face doesn’t have any rock and roll in it (a lot of it is weird circus-like music) but that hit single will probably be going through your head while you watch the film anyway. Someone made a video of the song using scenes from the movie, if you want to check it out. Although beware, there are lots of spoilers in that homemade music video.

Here’s a trailer for the film. It seems to be either for the 2003 restoration or a subsequent home video release. You certainly can pick up on the noir and expressionism details in this trailer.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.

Back at the end of Spring Training this year, I asked you who would be the Cubs MVP for 2023. It was a close vote, but Nico Hoerner came out on top with 24 percent of the vote. Seiya Suzuki and Dansby Swanson were tied for a very close second with 23 percent of the vote each.

Tonight we’re going to follow up on that and ask you to vote for the Cubs 2023 Most Valuable Player. I’m not going to have the same ballot that I had last time; for one, Trey Mancini was on it. (He got one vote. That might have been someone clicking the wrong button for all I know.) But I am going to list seven candidates who had good years for the Cubs and ask you to pick an MVP.

Pitchers are eligible to be MVP. We’re not going to have a Cubs’ Cy Young poll later, so don’t anyone vote for a position player on the expectation that you’ll pick a pitcher later. If you think a pitcher is the MVP, vote for him. I put two on the ballot.

You should be familiar with all of these players and what they did this past season. If you need a refresher, you know how to look that up yourself. Like the real MVP voting, there are no set definitions of what an MVP is. That’s up to you. If you want to take off-field contributions into account, you can do so. If you want to go by batting average, home runs and RBI, that’s fine too. Or if you just want to vote for the guy with the highest WAR, I’m not going to stop you.

So who is the Cubs’ 2023 MVP? The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.


Who was the Cubs’ 2023 MVP?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Adbert Alzolay
    (2 votes)
  • 60%
    Cody Bellinger
    (195 votes)
  • 0%
    Ian Happ
    (3 votes)
  • 6%
    Nico Hoerner
    (20 votes)
  • 23%
    Justin Steele
    (77 votes)
  • 1%
    Seiya Suzuki
    (6 votes)
  • 5%
    Dansby Swanson
    (17 votes)
  • 1%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (4 votes)
324 votes total Vote Now

Thank you all for coming in tonight. We’ve had a great time and we hope you have too. If you checked anything, let us get it for you. Please recycle any cans and bottles. Get home safely. Tell your friends about us. And come back tomorrow night for more BCB After Dark.