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BCB After Dark: Second guessing

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks you who should have pitched the ninth inning in tonight’s disaster.

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the late-night hang for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in and join us. Your name is on the guest list. The show will start any minute. Have a drink with us. We all need one. 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.

If you thought I was in a bad mood yesterday, just imagine what I’m like tonight after the Cubs’ 7-6 loss to Houston. This was a game the Cubs lead 6-1 after 7 12 innings. I was going to ask today (not as an official poll question, just as a discussion topic) if anyone wanted to change their vote about Seiya Suzuki after his two home-run game today and his third home run in the past two games. But honestly, it doesn’t make any difference if the bullpen can’t get anyone out.

Last night I asked you which one of three players you think should be on the major league roster right now. Winning the vote with 59 percent was Nelson Velázquez, presumably because you think he can get outs out of the bullpen. Nick Madrigal got 32 percent and only nine percent of you want a return of Edwin Ríos.

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.

Here’s the first great Miles Davis Quintet playing “So What” in 1959. Why? Because on a night like tonight, you can’t go wrong with a classic. We’re in no need to be challenged or listen to anything new. We need something to comfort us.

Also “So What” is starting to embody attitude towards the Cubs right now.

Winchester ‘73, the 1950 film directed by Anthony Mann says on the poster that it stars James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea and Stephen McNally. But in truth, the star of this film is its MacGuffin, a 1873 model Winchester rifle, also known as the “gun that won the West” in the popular parlance of the time. But like a cursed monkey’s paw. this gun brings nothing but trouble to those who possess it. Although the film has some real problematic elements, it’s a story saved by some terrific performances by the human stars of the film and in particular, by Stewart.

Winchester ‘73 is notable for it being the first of eight films that Mann and Stewart made together. It also marked a major change in Stewart’s career towards darker and more complex characters. While Lin McAdam, the rancher/gunfighter played by Stewart, is undoubtedly the hero of the film, Winchester ‘73 also makes it clear that Lin is a man of violence and dark impulses.

We first meet Lin on the Centennial, July 4, 1876, in Dodge City. He’s there to enter a shooting contest where the winner wins a “one-in-a-thousand” 1873 Winchester rifle. The rifle is one that scored in the the top 0.1% of the rifles made by the Winchester company in in its testing for accuracy. The film explains all of this, but I did look it up and apparently it was a thing. The Winchester company marketed these rare guns as the “one-in-a-thousand” Winchester rifles.

But Lin isn’t really there to win the shooting contest, although he’s pretty confident he’s going to. Instead, he’s looking for “Dutch Henry” Brown (McNally), a man he has a feud with and whom he’s sure is going to enter the contest himself. Sure enough, Brown is there.

Lin and Henry are the last two shooters in the competition for the rifle and after they repeatedly tie on harder and harder challenges, Lin eventually comes out on top and wins the rifle.

Before he can get out of Dodge, Henry and his gang jump Lin, beat him up and take the rifle. This starts a series of misfortune—generally ending in death—for anyone who possesses the rifle. Henry loses the gun in a poker game to an “Indian trader.” The trader then loses it, and his life, to the chief of a tribe of Sioux who are on the warpath. And so on and so on without getting too much into spoilers.

Stewart’s character keeps popping in and out of the story of the gun, joining up with a cavalry regiment that is under siege from the Sioux tribe that has the rifle. But mostly, he’s chasing after Henry, who is chasing after the gun and just being a general outlaw.

Stewart plays Lin as a tormented soul with a violent temper. It’s been said that going to war changed Stewart—it’s possible he suffered from some form of PTSD. He even considered quitting acting after he got out of the service. But Stewart the soldier clearly influenced the way he plays Lin. He’s a man on a mission—to kill “Dutch” Henry—and we eventually learn that he has a good reason for wanting to do so. Without giving up any spoilers, they have a long history together. But the desire to kill another human being is clearly taking a toll on Lin’s own humanity and Stewart lets that play out through the movie.

Winters plays a dance hall girl that gets kicked out of Dodge City, as dance hall girls are wont to do in Hollywood Westerns. Her path crosses Stewart’s three times—once in Dodge City, once when she and her fiancé are trapped with a cavalry brigade and Lin while under Indian attack and finally at the end of the picture. It’s a pretty standard trope character in Westerns and Winters handles it just fine without the scenery-chewing that she would become known for later in her career. Duryea, on the other hand, plays the same creepy, violent and possibly psychotic criminal that he always played, except this time it’s in the Old West and not in the Los Angeles noir underworld. Duryea’s character, “Waco Johnnie” Dean, is an associate of “Dutch Henry” and is briefly in possession of the rifle.

The film is marred, however, by some all-too-typical for the time attitudes towards Native Americans. As a way of heightening the stakes, the characters are always talking about the recent Battle of Little Bighorn and how it’s given the local natives ideas. That threat is embodied by Young Bull, played by a then-unknown Rock Hudson and who looks like he’s auditioning for the Village People. While the film does give a perfunctory line to Hudson about how the White man lies and steals his land, Young Bull and his tribe are also just bloodthirsty savages on the warpath. And Young Bull’s possession of the “one-in-a-thousand” 1873 Winchester rifle brings him no more good fortune than it does anyone else. There are worse Westerns made by Classic Hollywood in the way they depict Native Americans than Winchester ‘73, but that’s damning the film with faint praise. It’s still pretty bad.

(Also, a cavalry soldier is played by an equally-unknown Tony Curtis, credited here as “Anthony Curtis.”)

Winchester ‘73 is mostly worth seeing for Stewart’s terrific performance, although he’s not in the film as much as you would expect in a Jimmy Stewart film. The star of the film is the rifle and the mostly-interesting cast of characters who cross its path. Stewart simply doesn’t have the gun long enough for the film to stay with him, although it does continually cut back to him an his quest to get it back and to get revenge on “Dutch Henry.”

It should also be mentioned that Winchester ‘73 is an important film in Hollywood history in that it was the first film in which an actor (Stewart) turned down a salary in exchange for a percentage of the gate, or “points” as it became known. As it was a big hit, Stewart was reported to have made $600,000 on this film, an astronomical amount for an actor at the time.

Here’s the trailer for Winchester ‘73. The film’s cinematographer was the legendary William H. Daniels, and you can see his fine work here. It’s not anywhere near his best work, but the film does look good, as you can tell from this trailer.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies. Although on a night like tonight, I’m not sure why you would want to.

I’m sure you’re in as bad a mood as I am with the Cubs on a five-game losing streak and the team blowing a 6-1 lead after seven innings. The bullpen is a mess. So tonight I’m asking what manager David Ross should have done in the ninth inning.

Ross used the Cubs’ two best relievers, Adbert Alzolay and Mark Leiter Jr., in the seventh and eighth innings. Alzolay struggled, but he got out of the seventh with no runs scoring. Leiter faced the heart of the Astros lineup and gave up two runs. But at least Ross wasn’t saving Leiter for the ninth inning and a save against the bottom of the Astros order. A save opportunity that might never have come.

But the problem was that Leiter did give up two runs and then Ross went to Keegan Thompson for the save. Against the bottom of the Astros order, this seemed like a doable proposition. Except that it wasn’t.

Thompson gave up a leadoff single and then a two-run home run to Jake Meyers to make it 6-5. Then he walked pinch-hitter Mauricio Dubón, and the top of the order was due up with the winning run at the plate.

Ross went to Brandon Hughes, who gave up a double and after an intentional walk to Alex Bregman and a force at the plate, Hughes got tagged for a game-ending two-run single by Kyle Tucker. You know all this, most likely. Unless you’ve blacked it out of your memory.

So clearly the bullpen failed tonight. But who should have started the ninth inning instead of Thompson? Or was Thompson the right call and it just didn’t work out?


Who should have started the ninth inning in tonight’s loss?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Keegan Thompson—right decision, wrong result
    (58 votes)
  • 17%
    Mark Leiter Jr. for a second inning.
    (40 votes)
  • 5%
    Brandon Hughes
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    Nick Burdi
    (1 vote)
  • 29%
    Jeremiah Estrada
    (69 votes)
  • 3%
    Michael Fulmer
    (9 votes)
  • 4%
    Julian Merryweather
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    Michael Rucker
    (3 votes)
  • 13%
    Miles Mastrobuoni
    (32 votes)
235 votes total Vote Now

Thank you for stopping by on this awful night. I hope we made you feel just a little bit better. Or at least took your mind off the Cubs. Please get home safely. Check around to make sure you didn’t leave anything at your table. Tip the waitstaff. And join us again next week for more BCB After Dark.