It’s another Wednesday night here at BCB After Dark: the grooviest get-together for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Please come on in out of the cold. I hope you’ve had a pleasant evening and a pleasant week, and I hope we can make it just a little bit better. The hostess will lead you to a table. The show starts 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 night, I asked you for your thoughts on closer Josh Hader signing with the Cubs. There was some spirited discussion, but in the end, 40 percent of you gave it a “Yay!” Another 31 percent were against it and 29 percent were “whatever” on it. I do think it’s hard to know what to think about a Hader signing without knowing where he would fit in a general off-season strategy.
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.
Tonight we’ve got a performance by the greatest drummer of all-time, Max Roach. That’s just my opinion and I know there are other great drummers that you might think are better. But we’re free to disagree. That’s what makes America great.
So here is the Max Roach Quartet. The video is from a PBS show in DC. There’s no date given, but from the video, it appears to be from the 1980s.
So I’m ready to finish the 28-team field for our BCB Winter Western Classic. It was really difficult to cut the field down to 28 movies. I considered opening it up to 32 films, but that would take the tournament right up to the start of the regular season and I just thought that people’s attention would be on other things by then.
Unlike in last year’s Winter Noir Classic, I have seen all 28 of these films, although with some of them, it’s been a while. I intend to re-watch The Searchers and Rio Bravo before those films come up for a vote. At least.
(There were two films in the Noir tourney that I had not seen when I announced the bracket. Technically, two and a half. I’d watched most of Touch of Evil before the tournament, but I’d never actually finished it. But I was able to rewatch all of that one and the other two during the tournament,)
As disappointed as I am in all the films that I left out of the tournament, I’m very happy with the 28 I’ve included. I’m not sure I have them in the correct seeds, but that’s something for you to fix. You can vote for the lower-seeded movie if you believe I’ve gotten the rankings wrong.
I had already announced the first 24 films in the tournament, so now it’s time to reveal the final four in.
25. Little Big Man
26. Fort Apache
27. Forty Guns
28. Vera Cruz
Here’s the tournament bracket.
As I mentioned earlier, I limited the field to films from 1939 to 1972. I also eliminated “Contemporary Westerns” like The Misfits and Bad Day at Black Rock. When I announced the candidates at the beginning of the process, a lot of you questioned whether The Treasure of the Sierra Madre counted as a Western. I decided it wasn’t a battle worth having and excluded it. You could also exclude it as a “Contemporary Western” as it’s set in the 1920s, when the novel it was based on was written.
So here are the final 14 films cut, in no particular order. If you are disappointed that one of these films didn’t make the tournament, so am I. But I wanted to you to know that I was thinking of them.
- For A Few Dollars More
- Destry Rides Again
- Cat Ballou
- The Sons of Katie Elder
- Rancho Notorious
- Rio Grande
- Dodge City
- Jeremiah Johnson
- The Left-Handed Gun
- One-Eyed Jacks
- Hang ‘Em High
- The Far Country
- Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
- How the West Was Won
I don’t want to get into why each of these films didn’t make the cut, except How the West Was Won. Personally, I find that film to be a miserable watch on a home television. I imagine that it’s a lot better if you could see it in the original three-strip Cinerama screen with the curved, panorama view, but that’s not going to be an option available to any of us.
I’m also sad that with Destry Rides Again and Cat Ballou not in the tournament. We don’t really have a comedy. I guess Little Big Man sort of qualifies as one.
I’ve said before that other than an intro to film studies class as an undergraduate (where I didn’t learn a whole lot), all of my film knowledge is self-taught. But I have taken a ton of history and American Studies classes, both as an undergraduate and in graduate school. I am quite familiar with the role that the Western plays in American myth-making—both good and bad. I will be discussing that over the course of the tournament.
For today, I will say that the Western is, like jazz, an original American art form. Americans have always used the genre to define what it means to be American. But also like jazz, many non-Americans have also adapted the art form to create their own stories about their own experiences. We’ve got some Italian “spaghetti Westerns” in the tournament, and directors like Sergio Leone uses the tableau of the West to tell stories that Americans either couldn’t or wouldn’t tell. And while we’re not dealing with them here, Japanese directors, such as the great Akira Kurosawa, noticed the similarity in form of the gunfighter to the samurai. They adapted them those stories their own way. And of course, directors then re-made Kurosawa’s samurai films back into Westens like The Magnificent Seven and A Fistful of Dollars.
On Monday, we’ll start the tournament with the number-five seed Shane taking on the final film in the tournament, the 28-seed Vera Cruz. I said I’d give you a heads up this year as to where you can watch these films if you want to. I believe every film in the tournament is available to rent, but I assume most of you are more interested in whether or not the movie is available on a service you are already paying for.
You are in luck with our first contest. Vera Cruz is available on Amazon Prime, which is where I watched it a little over a week ago. And if you have a library card, you should be able to watch Shane on Kanopy, a free video service funded by our nation’s public libraries. It also appears to be on some service called “Fawsome,” which I’m unfamiliar with but I assume that it comes with ads.
Both films are also easily available for rental.
Of course, all of this only applies to people in the United States. Cubs fans abroad (and you know that I love you people) are going to have to fend for yourselves. I’m sorry.
Finally, in “Variety slang,” Westerns are known as “oaters.” I’ll be using that word from time to time just to give a little “variety” to my word selection. But I know not all of you are familiar with that term, so I thought I’d give you a heads-up.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.
As manager Craig Counsell said, “It’s time to be a Cub.” So tonight we are going to continue our look at potential free agents and ask if it is time for them to be a Cub as well.
Although the Hot Stove market overflows with good pitching this winter, the free agent pickings are slim on the position player side. After Cody Bellinger—and yes, I know you all want him back—the second-best position player on the market is Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman. The Cubs just happen to need a third baseman. So is it time for Matt Chapman to be a Cub?
The right-handed-hitting Chapman was a first-round pick of the Athletics back in 2014. In his first full season in the majors, 2018, he hit .278 with 24 home runs and a .356 on-base percentage. He won a Gold Glove at third and finished seventh in MVP voting that year. That is still the best season of his career, but he’s continued to hit home runs and get on base throughout his seven-year career. He’s also an elite defensive third baseman who, if combined with Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner, would give the Cubs some all-time elite infield defense.
When Chapman became arbitration-eligible, instead of paying Chapman what he was worth, Oakland dealt him to Toronto for four players that have so far turned out to be fairly worthless. It was for three players who have all posted a career negative WAR in the majors and one pitching prospect who hasn’t been able to stay healthy and hasn’t been good when he is. So the Blue Jays won that deal, as in his two years in Toronto, Chapman has posted a Fangraphs WAR of 4.2 and 3.5.
But Chapman is represented Scott Boras and he reportedly turned down a contract extension offer from Toronto that was over $100 million and five years to hit the open market. So we know the minimum that it would take to sign Chapman because it sounds like that offer is still on the table from Toronto. They want him back.
It’s not hard to wonder why. He’s a Gold Glove third baseman who slugged ,424 last year and .433 the year before. Chapman’s home run total was down last year with a career-low 17 (at least in a full season) but he also hit 39 doubles, which indicates to me that the power is still there and he might have been a bit unlucky last season. His “barrels” and “hard hit” percentage were up in 2023 from the year previous. It was just his home run-to-fly ball ratio was a career low.
Chapman also draws a fair number of walks, which has given him a solid .329 career OBP. He’s been extraordinarily healthy in his career. I count four trips to the injured list over the course of Chapman’s career and he’s never missed more than 16 days in any one of them.
There are some warning signs on Chapman, however. The biggest is that he turns 31 in April. A five year deal would take him through his age-35 season. Additionally, his stats from last year don’t look so good if you take out a monster April. DId Chapman lose some bat speed as the season went on? It’s hard to say, but he did hit .205/.307/.357 after the All-Star Break last year. That’s not a stat line you give a nine-figure contract to.
The other issue, and I should have mentioned this in the Josh Hader story yesterday, is that Chapman was tendered a qualifying offer. The Cubs would lose their second-round pick if they signed Chapman. (Although they’d get one back after that round if Cody Bellinger signed elsewhere.)
But the Cubs are in the market for a third baseman and Chapman is the best one available. He’s good and he fits a need.
MLB Trade Rumors estimated that Chapman would get a deal for six years and $150 million, which sounds really too high to me. On the other hand, The Athletic predicted five years and $95 million, which sounds a bit low. Fangraphs puts him at five years and $120 million, which sounds the closest to correct to me.
So knowing all this, should the Cubs try to sign free agent third baseman Matt Chapman? I’m asking you to assume he’ll sign for something around Fangraph’s $120 million deal. Maybe ten million dollars total in either direction.
Should the Cubs sign free agent third baseman Matt Chapman?
This poll is closed
Thank you to everyone who stopped in this week and to everyone who voted or commented. I hope we’ll see you next week when we start with the oaters. Please pick up anything you checked or anything around your table. Get home safely. Tell your friends about our upcoming film festival. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again next week for more BCB After Dark.