It’s another week here in the off-season for BCB After Dark: the swingingest spot for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re so glad to see you at the start of another week. Please come on in out of the fall chill. There’s no cover charge this evening and we’ve even got a table or two still available. 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 where you thought free agent two-way player Shohei Ohtani would play next year. The vote wasn’t close as 63 percent of you thought he was going to the Dodgers. But 17 percent of you were optimistic that he would be a Cub next year. Only seven percent of you picked the Giants, who are supposed to be major players for Ohtani this winter.
By the way, I was in a Hallmark store earlier this evening and they had a couple of Ohtani Christmas ornaments wearing an Angels jersey. I thought “He’s not going to still be an Angel by Christmas, is he?” So I didn’t get one.
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.
I don’t often feature songs written (or in this case, co-written) by retired Cook County commissioners, but tonight I’m making an exception. We’ve got guitarist Grant Green (who was from St. Louis, unfortunately) covering Jerry Butler’s “Hey, Western Union Man.”
This is a live recording from Newark, NJ in 1970. It features Green on guitar, Claude Bartee on tenor sax, William Bivens on vibraphone, Ronnie Foster on organ, Idris Muhammed on drums and Joseph Armstrong on congas.
So how was your weekend?
Me? I spent it watching a whole mess of Westerns as I try to finish preparations for our BCB Winter Western Classic, which is scheduled to start a week from today. Last week I announced the first 16 seeds and I’m prepared to announce the next eight today. There are still four more to go. Maybe I’ll do a play-in on Wednesday to decide the last seed.
Let me say that the decision I made to limit it to the “classic” period of Westerns from 1969 to 1972 was a wise one. I currently have about 45 films that I want to put into the 28 film field, and obviously that’s not going to work. I can’t imagine how bad it would be if I had to include films like Dances With Wolves, Django Unchained, Tombstone, Dead Man, the remakes of True Grit and 3:10 to Yuma, etc. I’m considering expanding the field to 32 films, but that would extend the tournament right up until the end of Spring Training, especially if I take Christmas week off from the tournament, which is the current plan.
I’m also excluding “contemporary” Westerns like The Misfits or Bad Day at Black Rock, which otherwise fit the criteria. Honestly, they’re great films, but I haven’t seen them on many of the Top 100 Westerns list. I’m guessing they excluded them as well. I’m just trying to make this project manageable.
The criteria that I’m using is mostly twofold. The first is how much do I personally like the movie. The second is that I’ve read probably 20 “Greatest Westerns of All-Time” lists on the internet and I’m trying to use that as a check on my own opinion. One thing I’m noticing, however, is that there isn’t a whole lot of agreement between all those lists as to what makes a great Western. Some films that are top ten on one list end up in the seventies on a different list. The one exception is The Searchers, which everyone seems to have in their top five or so and a lot have at number one. But beyond those lists, I’m seeking out movie reviews of the candidates, both contemporary but more often, modern. Personally, I think a lot of movie critics of the 1940s didn’t know what they were talking about. I don’t dismiss them outright, but too many films that were ahead of their time got misunderstood by contemporary critics, and not just in the Western genre.
I’ve also tried to limit the number of films from any one director or star, to limited effectiveness. I could do an entire tournament of John Wayne films, which I don’t want to do. John Ford is going to direct a lot of these movies as well. But as it stands now, For A Few Dollars More from the Sergio Leone’s “Man With No Name” trilogy and Rio Grande from Ford’s “Cavalry Trilogy” are on the outs because I’ve included the other two films from each of those trilogies. And it’s been a gut punch to me because I like both of those films a lot.
Finally, if it’s a close call between films, an edge will be given to a film that is easily available on a streaming service. Netflix never carried any large selection of older films and Max has cut their steaming library extensively since Discovery took over (BOOOO! So we can see “Dr. Pimple Popper” instead, I guess.), but Amazon Prime has a good selection, as do some of the other streaming channels. Some are also available on free services like Tubi with ads. Or Kanopy, if you have a library card. This year, I will try to tell you ahead of time where you can find the film if you want to watch it before the vote. In fact, there’s one film I’ve never seen—the James Stewart-starring Broken Arrow—that is available on Peacock that I want to watch before I announce the final four films. That’s why we only have eight more films to announce today.
So the fifth- and sixth-seed films will be:
17. Johnny Guitar
18. A Fistful of Dollars
19. 3:10 to Yuma (1957 version)
20. My Darling Clementine
21. The Naked Spur
22. Rio Bravo
23. She Wore A Yellow Ribbon
I have four favorites for the final four, but as I noted, I want to watch Broken Arrow first. Maybe I’ll give in and go to 32 films. I also need to watch our number-one overall seed, The Searchers, again, since I haven’t seen it in well over a decade.
Feel free to start campaigning for any of these movies or the ones announced last week. Or if you want to yell at me for excluding one of your favorites, I can take it. Just be aware that my answer is probably going to be “Yeah, but I don’t know which one to exclude to include it.”
Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and the movies.
The latest rumor of a player connected to the Cubs is free agent first baseman Rhys Hoskins. Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma report that the Cubs consider Hoskins to be a “good fit for the roster.” (The Athletic sub. req, but here’s the MLB Trade Rumors story on it.)
So let’s talk Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies are clearly moving on from him as they’ve announced that Bryce Harper is their starting first baseman going forward. The right-handed hitting Hoskins missed all of last season with a torn ACL, although he did try to pull a “Kyle Schwarber” and tried to make it back to the lineup for the World Series. Unfortunately for him, the Phillies didn’t make the World Series, so his comeback came up short. But it sounds like he could have DH’d had the Phillies beaten the Diamondbacks.
But before Hoskins got hurt, he was a pretty darn good hitter. Maybe not a great one, but he hits a lot of home runs and draws a lot of walks. His career batting average is .242, so he makes more contact than someone like Schwarber or Joey Gallo. Hoskins hit 30 home runs in 2022 and lead the league in walks in 2019. His career OPS+ is 125 and it was 123 in 2022. The man is an asset in any lineup, at least when he’s healthy.
Defensively, Hoskins leaves something to be desired. The Phillies used to play him in the outfield, where he made Schwarber look decent by comparison. At first base he’s better, but not what anyone would consider “good.” Still, if you are going to sacrifice defense at any position, first base is the position to do it at. And Hoskins could always DH as well.
Hoskins may not be the first baseman that you wish for under the Cubs’ holiday tree, but he might be part of a bigger plan.
Because Hoskins is coming off a lost season, he very well could be gettable for the one-year “pillow contract,” similar to what Cody Bellinger signed before this past season. I expect that 99 percent of you would rather have Bellinger back and that if Hoskins was the biggest signing of the winter, that would be a huge disappointment. But I think the strategy to signing Hoskins would be to pair him with a Shohei Ohtani signing or a trade for Juan Soto. If the Cubs get one of those two superstars, they likely aren’t going to have the money in the budget to re-sign Bellinger as well. Hoskins would cover the position at a more reasonable cost. Additionally, he’d be signed to a short-term deal, so if Owen Caissie, Matt Mervis or someone else were to turn into a reasonable option at first base in 2025, Hoskins wouldn’t be standing in the way. He could also be cut or traded if those options became available next season.
Instead of the standard BCB “yay/nay/meh” options that we usually run for player options, I’m going to ask you to rank how good an idea is getting Hoskins on a scale of 1 to 5. A five would be “That’s a great idea no matter how the rest of the off-season goes” and a one would be “Do not get him under any circumstances.” A three would be a kind of “meh” as in as long as it was a one-year deal, you wouldn’t mind. A four would be more of a “If he’s part of a larger plan, I really like the idea.” A two would be “Only if there no other better options.”
So on a scale of 1 to 5, how good would a Rhys Hoskins signing be?
How wise would a Cubs signing of Rhys Hoskins be?
This poll is closed
5 (Great idea!)
1 (Stay far, far away)
Thank you so much for stopping by this evening. I hope that we’ve made the start to your week a little better. Please get home safely. Stay warm. Recycle any cans or bottles. Tip the waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.