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BCB After Dark: Will the Professor gain Emeritus status?

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks what will happen with the Cubs and Kyle Hendricks.

Chicago Cubs v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the coolest dive for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in and join us. There’s no cover charge and the dress code is casual. There are still a few tables available up front. The show will start 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.

The Cubs were off today. I guess you could say the Cubs have been “off” most of this season, but that would be cruel. Accurate, but cruel.

Last time, because I didn’t want to talk about the Cubs after another loss, I asked you which one of three “surprise” National League teams was most likely to make the playoffs. In the end, it wasn’t that close as you believe the Arizona Diamondbacks ar for real, as they pulled in 54 percent of the vote. The Marlins were in second with 17 percent.

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.

Today would have been the 82nd birthday of the great pianist/keyboardist Chick Corea, had he not left us a little over two years ago. Corea was a giant of jazz throughout the seventies, eighties and beyond. He was instrumental in the birth of jazz fusion as a sideman with Miles Davis in the late-sixties and then again as a band leader in the seventies with Return to Forever.

Here Corea is back to playing more straight-ahead jazz in one of those NPR “Tiny Desk” concerts with vibraphonist Gary Burton. This is from 2016.

Easy Living is a very much overlooked 1937 screwball comedy, starring Jean Arthur, Edward Arnold and Ray Milland and directed by Mitchell Leisen. It’s mostly remembered as the first “screwball comedy” that screenwriter Preston Sturges wrote for Paramount. But that’s a shame because while Easy Living doesn’t live up the standards that Sturges would later set as a writer/director on such screwball classics as The Great McGinty, The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels and Hail the Conquering Hero, Easy Living is a fine and enjoyable comedy in its own right.

The other thing Easy Living is remembered for is the food fight in the automat, which is a favorite among automat enthusiasts. And yes, there are a lot of those automat fans and they’re growing.

Easy Living stars Jean Arthur as Mary Smith, a working girl who gets caught up in the shenanigans of the family of J.B. Ball (Arnold), the self-proclaimed third-richest banker in New York. Of course, saying that Arthur is playing a “working girl” is a bit redundant, because did she play anything else? Yeah, she was in Shane years later. And she had different parts earlier in her career. But in the late-thirties, no. Arthur played sassy working girls all the way down.

In contrast to this down-on-her-luck Mary Smith is the family of J.B. Ball. Ball is one of those people who is convinced they became rich because they understood money and were frugal with it. He complains about his butler purchasing a $3.50 trash can and that his personal chef cooks eggs in butter rather than in cheaper lard. In contrast, his son John Jr. (Milland), just bought an eleven-thousand dollar Bugatti because he was bored of his old car. That leads to a fight that has John Jr. leaving in a huff to go find a job and support himself without his father’s constant criticism.

But worse, his wife Jenny (Mary Nash) has purchased a $58,000 sable coat, imported from Russia. J.B. gets so angry that he takes the fur coat and throws it off the balcony where it lands on the head of Mary, who is riding to work on the top level a double-decker bus. Mary, being the poor-but-honest woman that she is, gets off the bus and tries to return it. J.B. runs into her and tells her to keep it.

Mary doesn’t have enough money to get back on the bus, so she asks J.B. for a dime. Instead, J.B. offers to give her a ride to work in his limousine. Back there, the two of them strike up a friendship. In one of the funnier running gags in the film, J.B. becomes extremely frustrated as he keeps trying to explain the concept of compound interest to Mary and Mary not getting it. (To be fair to Mary, J.B. doesn’t explain it well, which is part of the humor.)

J.B. notices that Mary’s hat was damaged by the falling sable coat, so on the way to work he stops off at a hat shop to buy her an expensive sable hat to go with her expensive sable coat. This leads the owner of the millinery to assume that Mary is J.B.’s mistress.

J.B. then drops Mary off at work and leaves for his office. Mary realizes that she never learned the name of her benefactor. This is an important detail.

News of Mary being J.B.’s new mistress gets out and people start doing things for her in order to get on J.B.’s good side. (Except her employers at Boys Constant Companion magazine, who fire her because they can’t have that kind of woman working for them.) A former chef for J.B., Louis (Luis Alberni), has opened up a (failing) luxury hotel and thinks having Mary stay in his hotel would keep J.B. from foreclosing on it. He rents her a ridiculously opulent penthouse suite for the same price that she’s playing for her current tiny apartment on the wrong side of town.

One person who hasn’t heard of the story of J.B.’s “new mistress” is John Jr., who has gotten a job bussing tables at the automat. He is immediately smitten with her and tries to help her steal food. This leads to the aforementioned food fight.

Easy Living is a film that relies on a lot of farce of misunderstanding. For example, people mistake Mary’s not knowing who J.B. Ball is as her discretion over the scandal of their affair. Similarly, when they ask her to ask “Mr. Ball” for a favor, she thinks they’re talking about the son, whom she only knows as a fired busboy from the automat.

Of course, these misunderstandings lead to some severe personal and financial issues for J.B. Ball, but they’re eventually worked out in the end. A romance forms between John Jr. (the son) and Mary. J.B. (the dad) eventually realizes how much he loves his wife (whom he’d never cheated on despite the assumptions) and son and they all reconcile. Mary agrees to marry John and J.B. is thrilled to have Mary as his new daughter-in-law, even if she doesn’t understand compound interest.

I know that last paragraph sounds like a spoiler, but did you really think a screwball comedy would end up any other way? The fun is in the way they get there.

And the way they get there is pretty fun. Sturgis wasn’t at the top of his game yet in the screwball comedy genre, but consider this a strong debut album. Arthur, along with Carole Lombard and Barbara Stanwyck, was one of the queens of the screwball comedy and easily handles the sharp and witty dialog thrown her way while still seeming like a simple but kind-hearted working girl. Milland isn’t quite as sharp as John Jr., but he does have some real chemistry with Arthur. The romance between the two is believable.

But Edward Arnold really steals the show as the blustery, miserly but ultimately good J.B. Ball. He manages to get a lot of laughs out of J.B.’s little quirks. He also makes J.B. seem good enough and redeemable enough that we’re not upset that Mary is marrying into his family. Yes, there’s a disconnect about a man who frets about spending $3.50 on a trash and then turns around and gives out a sable coat and then buys an expensive sable hat to a complete stranger, but he manages to make it seem like a polite way to have a temper tantrum about his family. Arnold also makes it seem like what upsets J.B. about his family spending wasn’t the money, but rather that it offends his sense of morality that surrounds money.

The script was supposedly based on a story by Vera Caspary (who also wrote the novel that the film Laura adapted), but all Sturges kept was the bit about the fur coat.

Sturges reportedly was never happy with the way directors adapted his screenplays, which was why he got into directing a few years later. But Leisen does a solid job here. A lot of his job was managing the notoriously-difficult Arthur, who suffered from insecurities and stage fright. It helped that Leisen had a background in costuming and makeup. But Arthur always turned in top performances in the end and Easy Living was no exception. And he got a great supporting turn from Arnold as well.

It looks like the entire film for Easy Living is available on YouTube. But if you’re just an automat fan and are only interested in it for the automat, here’s that famous food fight. Complete with a “meet-cute” for Arthur and Milland.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.

The big story for the Cubs right now is Marcus Stroman, and whether or not the Cubs will sign him to an extension. But I already dealt with that situation last week and while there has been new information since then, I think it’s a bit too soon to revisit that situation.

So let’s talk about Kyle Hendricks instead. Hendricks is in the final year of his extension that he signed in 2019. However, there is a club option for a $16 million deal for 2024 with a $1.5 million buyout.

Before the last few weeks, it seemed like a lock that the Cubs would decline the option and send the final member of the 2016 World Series Champions on his way. Hendricks had a poor 2021 season and his 2022 season was both poor and filled with injuries.

But since coming back from injury on May 25, Kyle Hendricks has looked like the same solid pitcher that we’ve known since 2014. In his last start, he had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the eighth inning. But none of his other three starts were poor. Maybe his first one back was poor (5 R—but 3 ER—over 4.1 innings) but that’s to be expected coming back from a long injury layoff. But overall, Hendricks has been good.

So that leaves the same question as we had for Stroman last week. What will the Cubs do with Hendricks? They could exercise the $16 million option for next year, or they could trade him before the deadline if they don’t plan on picking up that option.

There is one complicating factor with trading Hendricks. On July 10, Hendricks becomes a 10-5 player with the right to reject any trade. So if the Cubs decide to trade Kyle Hendricks, they’ll likely have to act fast.

I’m giving you three options, against my better judgement. The first is that the Cubs don’t trade Hendricks and pick up his $16 million option for 2024. Which is really a $14.5 million option since if they don’t pick up the option, the Cubs owe Hendricks $1.5 million anyway.

The second option is that they trade him, either before or after the July 10 date when Hendricks achieves 10-5 status. The Cubs can still trade Hendricks after July 10 with his permission. Maybe he agrees to a deal on the condition that his 2024 option gets picked up.

The third option, which I consider the least likely, is that the Cubs fail to trade Hendricks—either before July 10 or the trade deadline on August 1—and then they decide not to pick up Hendricks’ 2024 option.

So what can we expect for Kyle Hendricks this season?


What will the Cubs do with Kyle Hendrics?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Pick up the contract option for 2024
    (153 votes)
  • 15%
    Trade him
    (34 votes)
  • 12%
    Let him leave as a free agent at the end of the year
    (26 votes)
213 votes total Vote Now

Thank you to everyone who stopped by this evening. You’ve made everyone’s night a little bit better. Get home safely. Tip the waitstaff. And come back tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.