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BCB After Dark: Just a matter of time

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks whether the pitch timer should have been relaxed for rhe playoffs.

Chicago White Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the grooviest get-together for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. I hope you’ve had a good holiday and we’re so glad you decided to finish off the weekend with us. Come on in out of the heat. 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.

The Cubs beat the Giants, 5-0 today behind Justin Steele’s best game of his career as well as a home run, a double and three RBI from Seiya Suzuki. The win was doubly important since it was against a rival for a Wild Card spot. But perhaps the biggest deal was that Justin Steele went eight innings and except for one inning thrown by José Cuas, it gave a much-needed day off to a bullpen that has been running on fumes.

On top of that, the Brewers also lost, so that’s good news too.

Here’s the part with the jazz and the movies. Feel free to skip ahead to the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Tonight we have one of those NPR Tiny Desk concerts and this one is from just last week, no less. It’s Christian McBride’s New Jawn, which features McBride on bass, Josh Evans on trumpet, Marcus Strickland on tenor sax and bass clarinet and Nasheet Wells on drums.

This one starts out with a cacophony of noise—meant to symbolize the times we live in—but then moves into a funky beat. Then at the end of the first song, it goes crazy again.

Then there are two more songs after that.

Unfortunately, I’m still battling COVID. I’m upset because my wife came down with it after I did and she’s already better. I can’t say I feel bad right now—it’s more like a mild cold—except that I have the brain fog. It keeps me from really paying attention to things for an extended period of time. Not only does that make it difficult (but not impossible, obviously) to write these pieces, but it makes it difficult to watch movies to write about for you. (Watching baseball is cool because I can fade in and out pretty easily.)

But I do want to provide you with something, and the last movie I watched before I got sick was director Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 comedy The Trouble With Harry, starring Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Mildred Natwick, Shirley MacLaine and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver the five-year-old son of Shirley MacLaine’s character. So I’ll give you a few quick thoughts on that film.

I had never seen The Trouble With Harry before and it’s certainly a unique work in Hitchcock’s career in that it’s a comedy. Although most Hitchcock films have that element of dark humor in them, this is one without any element of suspense, horror or dread. The trouble with Harry in The Trouble With Harry is that he’s dead and our four heroes—Captain Albert Wiles (Gwenn), Sam Marlowe (Forsythe), Ivy Gravely (Natwick) and Jennifer Rogers (MacLaine)—don’t know what to do with the body. You’d think they’d just call the authorities and have them deal with it, but three of them (everyone but Sam) have reason to believe that they are the one who killed Harry. So most of the film, and much of the humor, is the four of them burying Harry’s body, digging him up, cleaning him, dragging him around for a while and then burying him again. Then the film comes up with some reason to do it all over again. Meanwhile, there are two budding romances between the older couple, Albert and Ivy, and the younger couple, Sam and Jennifer.

All of this is done with the backdrop of some beautiful fall colors of Vermont, which is the setting of this film. The autumn leaves pop out. Although some of it is clearly done on a Hollywood set with a set painting behind them, there are a lot of actual shots of the Vermont countryside. (Although again, a few trees had to be “puffed up” with glued on leaves after a storm blew through during filming.)

The Trouble With Harry is an important work in Hitchcock’s career for two reasons. This film was the first time he worked with composer Bernard Herrmann, who would go on write and conduct the iconic scores for Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho and other Hitchcock films. The music in The Trouble With Harry is a lot lighter than it is in those films, befitting its comedic tone, but it’s still that unmistakable Bernard Herrmann score that makes those Hitchcock films pop so much.

The other reason that The Trouble With Harry was so pivotal in Hitchcock’s career is that is more or less led to the development of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the iconic television series where Hitchcock was allowed to indulge the macabre sense of humor more regularly than he was in his films. While Hitchcock didn’t have a lot to do with the actual stories told in that series—he personally only directed about one or two episodes a year—but he did have those famous openings and closings where he could let loose. (And Hitchcock loved doing those intros and outros.) The Trouble With Harry taught Hitchcock that it was OK to be funny. Or maybe more aptly, it taught the TV networks that it was OK if Hitchcock was funny.

Shirley MacLaine plays Jennifer Rogers, the widow of the now-dead Harry in her film debut. (It’s OK, they make it clear that Harry was an abusive jerk.) The story of how MacLaine got the part is too good to pass up. Hitchcock’s assistant director, Herbert Coleman, had heard from his daughter how much she loved the Broadway musical The Pajama Game was and that he should check it out because there were actors in that play that he might be interested in. In particular, she praised Carol Haney, who played Gladys.

So Coleman goes to see The Pajama Game and is blown away by Haney and realizes that she’d be perfect for Jennifer in The Trouble With Harry, which they were casting at the time. So after the performance he checks in backstage with the play’s producer and asks if he can talk to Haney. Except that Haney wasn’t there. She had earlier broken her foot and the actress Coleman had seen on the stage was actually her understudy, Shirley MacLaine.

Obviously MacLaine got the part and went on to stardom. And no one bothered to ask how the 20-year-old MacLaine’s character had been married twice and already had a five-year old son. I think it’s safe to assume that the part of Jennifer was a bit older than MacLaine was. Certainly she adds a lot of impish charm to the part.

Here’s a trailer for The Trouble With Harry.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.

Tonight’s question concerns the playoffs and according to Fangraphs, there’s an 83.3 percent chance that it’s going to directly affect the Cubs.

Most of us have come to embrace the pitch clock. Not all of us, I know, but most of us like the fact that games are completed 25 minutes faster this year than last year. But many (not all) players had expressed a desire that the pitch clock rules should be relaxed in the playoffs. Each pitch and each at-bat is that much more important, and you don’t want anyone rushing into a mistake. There was also an argument that a playoff game needs “time to breath” to let the big moments feel bigger. Plus, it would be embarrassing for the sport if the World Series ended on a pitch clock violations.

MLB listened to these arguments and rejected them. The pitch clock stays the same in the playoffs.

But tonight’s question is should they have relaxed the pitch clock rules for the playoffs? The players weren’t asking that the pitch clock be eliminated, but rather that a few seconds be added on to the 15-second and 20-second timer (with men on base) for the playoffs. How many seconds wasn’t clear, but I’m guessing five, making it a 20-second and 25-second timer. But I don’t know for sure. They definitely wanted it longer than it is now.

It should be stated that the pitch clock has not been as big an adjustment as many thought it would be. While there were tons of violations called in Spring Training and early in the season, lately, there’s only been one pitch clock violation every four games or so. The players have been able to adapt.

But is the argument that the playoffs are different a worthy one? When the fans are going nuts and the decibel level is up around 120, should the pitcher be given a little extra time to compose himself? Is the pitcher going to be able to hear the Pitchcom in that situation and he needs an extra few seconds to get the signs? Should the batter be given an extra few seconds to get himself ready?

As I said, I don’t know how long the players were asking to be added to the pitch clock. They probably would have taken whatever they could get. So just assume that there would be a pitch timer in the playoffs, but a slower one with two to seven seconds added on.

So should MLB have extended the pitch clock for the postseason? Or should the rules have remained the same all year long? They already don’t put a man on second in extras in the playoffs, so the precedent is there for different rules.


Should MLB have added time on to the pitch clock for the postseason?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    (102 votes)
  • 64%
    (184 votes)
286 votes total Vote Now

Thanks to everyone who stopped by tonight and a special thanks goes to everyone who voted or commented. We’re slowly getting back to normal around here and I hope you stick with us. Get home safely. Recycle any cans or bottles. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.