It’s another week here at BCB After Dark, the be-boppin’ bash for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. I hope you’ve had a happy holiday weekend and we’re so glad you stopped by. Come on in. There’s no cover charge. We have one or two good tables available. The show will start shortly. Bring your own beverage. Just for you, we’ll waive the corkage fee.
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 trounced the Pirates, 8-0. Starter Drew Smyly wasn’t that sharp. He walked five and just barely finished five innings, but Smyly managed to get the out he needed at critical moments. Meanwhile, the much-maligned Cubs bullpen, responsible for so many of the problems this team had in May, has apparently turned a corner. Tonight they tossed four scoreless innings and Adbert Alzolay and Mark Leiter Jr.—the only two dependable relievers for much of the season—weren’t responsible for any of them. Instead, Michael Fulmer had one inning, Julian Merryweather had one inning and Michael Rucker had two.
Last week, I asked you if infielder Nick Madrigal would still be on the active roster on the day after the trade deadline. Most of you think Madrigal’s days on the North Side are numbered, as 64 percent of you said “no.” Of course, some of you who voted “no” might think he’ll be in Iowa and will make a big return later or in 2024. But probably not many of you.
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.
Tonight I’ve got an official music video from Christian McBride’s New Jawn, who had a new album come out in February. This is “Dolphy Dust,” written by trumpeter Josh Evans.
In addition to Evans and McBride on bass, the in-studio performance features Marcus Strickland on tenor sax and Nasheet Waits on drums.
I’m working on a piece about The Strange One, a 1957 film noir starring Ben Gazzara in his film debut and also George Peppard in a supporting role, also in his film debut. (Both actors had done television before, but Hollywood liked to pretend that television didn’t exist in the fifties.) To say that this film shocked me is an understatement. Not that there was anything in it that shocked my 2020s sensibilities, but rather I was shocked that a film like this got made in 1957 under the eye of the Production Code. The film is so very, very . . . well, I’ll save that for Wednesday. Maybe you can guess what is so surprising about it from this trailer.
It does appear that the entire film has been uploaded to YouTube. And the transfer isn’t bad either, unlike most films that get uploaded there for free.
But as long as we’re back on the subject of noir, I thought I throw out today if anyone wants to recommend any other film noir or neo-noir that people should check out. I’m obviously a big fan of noir and we had that Winter Noir Classic over the winter, but I was only able to include 26 films in that contest. There are a lot of other great or even just good noir films that people should check out. So tell us which films of that genre that you like that got left out of our winter festival. And if you’ve forgotten which films were in the tournament and recommend one that was in it? Well, all of those films were classics so it wouldn’t hurt to be reminded of them. But I think we can rule out The Maltese Falcon or Double Indemnity.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the non-baseball stuff.
The Cubs have won eight of their last ten game, which has put them right back into contention in the woeful National League Central. However, they still lost a game in that time to the now first-place Reds, who have rattled off nine in a row and now have Joey Votto back in the lineup for the first time this season.
The Cubs are still in fourth place in the division, but are only 3 1⁄2 games back. And they’re hotter than any team other than the team from a city famous for their hog butchering, a fictional radio station and weird chili.
So I guess it’s time to ask you “Who is going to win the NL Central?” Here are the current standings, followed by the Fangraphs odds of winning the division.
Cincinnati 38-35 ___ 12.3%
Milwaukee 37-35 0.5 GB 50.4%
Pittsburgh 34-37 3.0 GB 7.3%
CUBS 34-38 3.5 GB 16.6%
St. Louis 30-43 8.0 GB 13.4%
The Fangraphs predictions would take the Brewers over the field at this point, but you have to wonder why. I suspect I know why—the computers think Milwaukee’s slow start is not indicative of a wider trend and that things will correct in the second half—but I’m not sure that anyone should count on that. Of course, Fangraphs would respond that they aren’t counting on it—that’s why they only have a 50 percent chance of winning the division.
The Cubs have the second-best chance of winning the division. They also have the best (as in the worst) winning percentage of their remaining opponents.
The Cardinals are way back, but the computer still likes them better than the first-place Reds of the third-place Pirates.
We also don’t know what these five teams will do at the trade deadline, which is going to upset these odds.
So who will win the NL Central this year?
Who will win the NL Central?
This poll is closed
St. Louis Cardinals
Thank you so very much for stopping by. We hope you’ve been able to wind down a bit and celebrate another Cubs victory. Please get home safely. If you need us to call you a ride, let us know. Tip your waitstaff. Tell your friends. And join us again tomorrow evening for more BCB After Dark.