clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

BCB After Dark: We’re gonna need some wins

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks how many games will the Cubs need to win this month.

Chicago Cubs v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It’s another Wednesday night here at BCB After Dark: the hippest happening for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. It’s our last performance of the week, so we’re glad you stopped by. Come on in. I hear the weather out there is bad, but you’ll be safe in here. There’s no cover charge tonight. If you’ve got anything you want checked, we can do that for you now. There are still a few 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.

No games today, but last night I asked you which player other than Marcus Stroman and Cody Bellinger would be most likely to get traded before the deadline? It was pointed out that I should have included Kyle Hendricks in the vote and yes, I probably messed up there. But I did give the option of “someone else” and that only got seven percent of the vote, so I think I’m OK not including Hendricks.

But winning the vote with 27 percent was Drew Smyly. There was almost a four-way tie for second, but Yan Gomes finished second, barely, with 18 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.

I found a real treat tonight. This is pianist Bill Evans in Copenhagen in 1966 performing his song “Waltz for Debby (Monicas Vals)” with Swedish singer Monica Zetterlund. Yes, Zetterlund sings in Swedish here. Eddie Gomez is on bass and Alex Riel is on drums.

I haven’t gotten up the nerve to finish Strategic Air Command yet, so those of you hoping that I’d write about it are going to be disappointed. It should be clear by now that I’m not a fan of that film, although maybe the second half of the movie is better than the first.

I do have one film to discuss today, however. It’s 1957’s British film noir picture Hell Riders starring Stanley Baker, Herbert Lom and Peggy Cummins. It was directed by American Cy Endfield, who was best known for directing the Joe Palooka movies for the Poverty Row Studio Monogram Films. By 1950, he started doing more serious noirs including ones that attacked McCarthyism and lynchings. That drew the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee and his subsequent blacklisting in 1951. Endfield then ended up moving to the UK where he directed several classic British noir and crime films throughout the 1950s. His biggest film was the 1964 epic Zulu, which is best known today as the film that made Michael Caine a star.

Honestly, Enfield had an eye for talent, as this film demonstrates. If Hell Drivers is remembered today, it’s remembered for the cast. Baker had gotten good notices as a supporting actor for the first decade of his career, but it was Enfield that gave him his first starring role here. Cummins was the co-star of Gun Crazy (I’ve made my love of that film clear during the Winter Noir Classic) and should have been a big star in the US. But she was back in her native England for this one as the main love interest.

But there are lots of big names in this film before they were big names. Lom is best-remembered today for his role as Commissioner Dreyfus in the Pink Panther series of films. The main villain in Hell Drivers is Patrick McGoohan, later of The Prisoner and countless guest appearances on TV shows throughout the seventies and beyond, most notably on Columbo.

In a smaller role is David McCallum, Illya Kuryakin from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and who is still working on NCIS 66 years later. Jill Ireland plays a barmaid. Oh, and there there’s a small part of a truck driver played by someone that you’ve heard of before: Sean Connery. It was just Connery’s second-credited part.

There seems to be a subgenre of noir dedicated to truck driving. The Drive By Night (1940) and The Wages of Fear (1953) are two examples that come to mind. Hell Drivers isn’t as good as those two (and by all means—go watch The Wages of Fear now), but it’s still a solid movie. The gist of the film is that Baker plays Tom Yately, a man fresh out of prison who is looking for a job where they won’t ask many questions about his past. He ends up at this shady trucking company where the drivers are encouraged to drive as fast and recklessly as possible. In at least one scene, one of the drivers is downing a Guinness in one hand while he turns the wheel with the other. This leads to a lot of scenes of big trucks speeding down twisty roads and spinning out of control. When Tom is getting trained, he slows down as the truck approaches a blind curve. The trainer tells him he’d better get his foot off the brake and back on the gas. When he protests “What if something is there?”, the trainer responds with “What if something isn’t?”

Obviously this is a pretty shady company that doesn’t care much if its drivers live or die. Tom befriends Gino (Lom), a former Italian POW who decided to stay in England after the war ended. He’s in love with the firm’s secretary Lucy (Cummins), but he’s a little deluded as to whether or not Lucy loves him back.

McGoohan plays “Red,” the violent bully who serves as the foreman of the truckers and who has made it his mission to make life as miserable as possible for Tom. There’s a reward for the trucker who manages to make the most deliveries (they’re carrying gravel) and Red always gets the bonus. But Tom decides that he’s going to get that bonus and both Tom and Red are not above sabotaging the other one in their attempt to win. Red is the only one willing to resort to violence, however. (Tom gets into enough fistfights himself, but only in self-defense.)

The appeal of this film is the quality of the acting and the scenes of mad truck drivers screaming down the English countryside and taking curves around cliffs in quarries at dangerously high speeds. It’s also fun to see famous actors before they got famous. It’s certainly not as good as The Wages of Fear or They Drive By Night, but it’s pleasant enough of a noir about British truck drivers and the corrupt company they work for.

Here’s the trailer for Hell Drivers. It does appear that the entire film is available on YouTube.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and cinema.

So yesterday I asked you about the Cubs selling at the deadline and some of you argued that the Cubs won’t be selling at all. Or at least shouldn’t be selling. Sara Sanchez even took the argument to a whole ‘nother article, which is her right and is worth reading.

In my defense, my question was intended as an “If/then” question. That is, “If the Cubs decide to sell, then who is most likely to get dealt?” But perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. Honestly, from all the stuff I’ve done with the draft and the resulting lack of sleep, it kind of surprises me that I didn’t accidentally write 500 words on Pete LaCock. So just being able to get the question out at all was a victory.

Honestly, I haven’t given up on the season yet, although I am realistic.

But one of the better points that people are making is that the Cubs have a real chance to make up some ground before the Trade Deadline on August 1. Let’s look at the Cubs schedule for the rest of the month, shall we?

3 vs. Red Sox @Wrigley

3 vs. Nationals @Wrigley

4 vs. Cardinals @Wrigley

2 at White Sox

4 at Cardinals

That leads into a four-game series at home with the Reds starting on July 31.

So that’s four series against last-place teams and one short series against a fourth-place team. Admittedly, the Red Sox aren’t your typical last-place team as they’re five games over .500, but the White Sox are 16 game under and only aren’t in last because of the woeful Royals.

So that’s 16 games against struggling teams. Or 13 games against bad teams and three games at Wrigley against the solid-but-not-great Red Sox.

So tonight’s question is: How many games out of those 16 will the Cubs have to win to not be selling at the trade deadline? Yes, I know that some of this depends on what the Reds and Brewers do, but you can figure out yourself what you expect those teams to do and then how many games the Cubs have to win.

I put the poll question in the form of a simple algebra. I’m just proud my daughter got A’s in both semesters of math this past year.


In order to not be selling at the deadline, the Cubs need to win at least (x number) of the next 16 games?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    (6 votes)
  • 38%
    (78 votes)
  • 53%
    (109 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    They will be selling at the deadline no matter what.
    (8 votes)
203 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so very much for stopping by this week. I hope you got it through the evening safely. Be sure you stay safe on your way home. Be sure to recycle any of your cans and bottles. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again next week for more BCB After Dark.