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BCB After Dark: He did the Mash

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks if it’s time for Matt “Mash” Mervis to make his major-league debut.

Matt Mervis
Matt Mervis
Dylan Heuer

It’s another week here at BCB After Dark: the swingin’-est afterparty for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re so glad to see you stop by on this nice evening. Come on in. There’s no cover charge. We still have a few good tables 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.

Tonight, the Cubs crushed the Athletics, 10 to 1. Patrick Wisdom hit two home runs and Cody Bellinger had his first-ever five-hit game. I know that the A’s are barely have a major league roster, but the Cubs never seem to have good California road trips. So this is still very good news. They’ve already won three of their first four in the Golden State and they still have two more games left against the lowly A’s.

Also, I realized tonight that I don’t get most of what everyone else is talking about on-line when I’m blacked out of the Marquee broadcast, like I am when the Cubs play Oakland or San Francisco.

Last week, I asked you if the Cubs “core” was good enough to compete for a World Series by 2026. Admitting that I got a little funky with the wording, fully 76 percent of you think the Cubs are going to be contenders by then. Heck, if they keep playing like they have been over this West Coast trip, maybe they contend this year. I’m not ready to go that far with my optimism, but I won’t say it’s impossible. Just unlikely.

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

One of the problems with being a fan of a genre of music where the artists stay active into their eighties and nineties is that we often have to say goodbye to them. On Sunday, the great jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal passed away at 92.

I’ll have more on Jamal later in the week, but for now, enjoy this performance by him from July of 1971. It appears to be from French television. This performance includes Jamil Suleiman on bass and Franck Grant on drums.

I only managed to watch two movies over the weekend. One was a rewatch of Goldfinger, which I’ve seen more times that I remember. I figure that most of you have seen it too. The other film I watched was Songs For Drella, a 1990 film by Ed Lauchman that is a live performance of the album of the same name by Lou Reed and John Cale.

The death of Andy Warhol in 1987 brought together Reed and Cale for the first time since Reed fired Cale from the Velvet Underground in 1968. If you know the history of the Velvet Underground, they got their first break when Warhol agreed to “manage” and “produce” the band in 1965. I put those words in quotes because Warhol wasn’t really interested in doing the normal things that a manager or producer is supposed to do. Instead, what Warhol wanted was for the Velvet Underground to provide a kind of live soundtrack to his Exploding Plastic Inevitable art show. What that soundtrack sounded like was kind of up to them, except that Warhol insisted that they take on a German singer/model named Nico to sing with them. The result was the 1967 album The Velvet Underground and Nico, which was a huge flop upon its release, barley selling any copies. Of course, in the 55 years since then, millions have discovered the album and it has become one of the most-lauded and influential rock albums of all time.

To make a long story short, Reed and Cale had good times and bad times with Warhol. That’s represented by the nickname “Drella,” which the actor Ondine had stuck on Warhol. The name was a combination of “Dracula” and “Cinderella.”

But no matter what problems that Reed, Cale and the rest of the Velvet Underground had with Warhol, they really respected and loved him in their own way. Both Reed and Cale clearly took his death, which was the result of a botched gallbladder surgery, hard. And so the two of them were asked to write a piece of music for Warhol’s memorial. That turned into an entire album and eventually, this film.

The film is a quiet, live performance in 1989 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with no audience. The two play the album straight through, with Cale playing piano and viola and Reed playing the guitar. Reed sings ten songs and Cale sings five. While the two of them play, pictures of Warhol, pictures by Warhol and pictures of the world around Warhol are projected on the back screen. The photos are altered in a “Warholian” way, with the photos colorized (or re-colorized) with brightly colored tones, which is reminiscent of many of Warhol’s works.

The songs themselves, along with the images on the wall, serve as a musical biography of Warhol. Most of the songs are told from Warhol’s point of view. The first song, “Smalltown,” is about the problems Warhol had growing up in Pittsburgh. Then the songs take us through Warhol’s artistic vision and his rise to fame.

The second half of the show gets darker, as it deals with the excesses of the sixties and the people hanging around Warhol’s Factory. Then Reed sings “I Believe,” a song about Valerie Solanas shooting Warhol, which is a dark and angry song full of nothing but hatred for Solanas.

Two songs stick out at the end. One, “A Dream” isn’t even a song at all. It’s John Cale reading from Warhol’s diary as he plays piano and Reed plays guitar. He reads Warhols own thoughts on a lot of things, including his feelings about Reed and Cale. Mostly it’s a diary of hurt and loneliness. The other song that stands out is Reed’s “Hello It’s Me,” where Reed tries to tell Warhol how much he meant to him and to apologize for being a crappy friend.

Songs for Drella is beautiful, desolate and artistic. It’s a fitting elegy for perhaps the most famous American artist of the twentieth century.

Here’s is what appears to be the entire film on YouTube. Be warned, this appears to be a crappy copy of a VHS tape. So the stark beauty of the film is somewhat lost in the muddled transfer. It has undergone a restoration recently and the newly-restored version of the film is available on The Criterion Channel.

Of course, you could also just listen to the album. You won’t get the visuals, but all the story is there in the songs.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the movies and the music. Of course, it was all music tonight.

Brett Taylor wrote a very good article earlier today over at Bleacher Nation on Matt Mervis. Taylor’s basic point was that the Cubs are getting to a point where they can no longer afford to leave first base prospect Matt Mervis down in the minors. If the Cubs were really good, then they could leave Mervis in Iowa, let him get more experience and only call him up if there were an injury. If the Cubs were really bad, then there would be no point in starting his service time clock—or at least it would make sense to let Mervis get more experience in the minors before his major league debut.

But the Cubs aren’t either of those poles. They look a lot better than most of the pre-season prognosticators had them, but they don’t look like a team that is going to just win the division going away. This Cubs team could make or miss the playoffs by one or two games, and in that sense, the Cubs are really taking a big risk by continuing to run Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini at first base when Mervis looks like he’d outhit both of them.

For those of you wondering, over 12 games with Triple-A Iowa, Mervis is now hitting .293/.456/.585 with three home runs. Even more promising, Mervis has drawn 12 unintentional walks and has struck out just nine times. Over 73 Triple-A games, mostly this year and last, Mervis is hitting .296/.394/.580 with 18 home runs. While you could write off this season as just being a small sample size, I think we’re getting past that stage when you add in Mervis’ overall stats in Triple-A from 2022 and 2023.

Can the Cubs continue to stick Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini in the lineup when Mervis is tearing up Triple-A? There is the problem of roster construction, however. The Cubs aren’t going to release Trey Mancini 15 games into the season. He’s got a two-year, $14 million deal with the team. And while contract issues wouldn’t get in the way of the Cubs releasing Hosmer, Hosmer is also easily the best defensive first baseman of the three. I think the Cubs need Hosmer at the moment for his glove alone.

So calling up Mervis would mean that the Cubs would carry three first basemen, although Mancini can play the outfield. He can’t play the outfield well, but he can play it.

So calling up Mervis would mean that Hosmer, Mancini and Mervis would have to split time at first base and designated hitter. And someone else like Luis Torrens, Edwin Rios or Nick Madrigal would either have to go down to Iowa or be released. Also, since Mervis isn’t on the 40-man roster, a space would have to be opened up there as well.

But again, can the Cubs afford not to call up Mervis? Could not doing this cost them a game or two that would be the difference between a wild card spot and an early winter? I think they can afford to leave Mervis down in Iowa while the Cubs play the Athletics, but I’m not sure that they can for much longer after tha.

Assuming that the Cubs will not release Mancini or Hosmer at this time, should the Cubs call up Mat Mervis before the end of April?


Should the Cubs call up Matt Mervis this month and carry three first basemen?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    (173 votes)
  • 52%
    (190 votes)
363 votes total Vote Now

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