BCB After Dark: Weapons of Justin Steele

Welcome back to BCB after dark: the event for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs supporters abroad. It’s been a quiet night here and why don’t you come and liven it up? There is no entrance fee tonight. There are a few tables available on the right. Your waitress will take your order now. It’s bring your own drink.

BCB after dark is where you can talk about baseball, music, movies, or whatever else you need to relax, as long as it’s within the site rules. Night owls are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is welcome to join in the revival the next morning and into the afternoon.BCB after dark is where you can talk about baseball, music, movies, or whatever else you need to relax, as long as it’s within the site rules. Night owls are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is welcome to join in the revival the next morning and into the afternoon.

The Cubs had a well-deserved rest day today. Or maybe it wasn’t so well deserved. The Arizona Complex League started tonight and Cristian Hernandez homered.

Last week, I asked you if you thought Christopher Morel would be part of the “next big” Cubs team. Morel has taken the city and the fan base by storm since his call to the major league and that is certainly reflected in the vote in which 90% of you think he will be on the Cubs’ next team.

Here is the part where I talk about jazz and cinema. Feel free to skip to the baseball question at the end if you wish. You won’t hurt my feelings.


I thought tonight I would give you a piece of jazz that most of you know tonight. It’s Quincy Jones’ version of the jazz standard written by Benny Golson, “Killer Joe”.


I’ve been very busy last week and only had the chance to watch one movie. Normally I watch a few and write about the one that speaks to me the most. It’s better if I’m enthusiastic about the movie. But the only film I have to write about tonight is not the one that really speaks to me. My dissertation this evening will therefore be a little shorter than usual.

I’m still going to try to write something about John Ford’s 1941 film, How green my valley was. Any John Ford movie will be well done and How green my valley was is certainly a nice picture. But it’s a family melodrama with an ode to the end of a way of life and honestly, those kinds of movies aren’t really my thing. I appreciate it for what it is, but I don’t really need to see it again.

The first thing that strikes me about How green my valley was is that it is in black and white. When I watch a movie called “How Green Was My Valley” I really want to see green, you know? It’s a little hard to appreciate the supposed beauty of the South Wales mining town it sits in if you can’t see the vibrant green.

To be fair to the producers, the plan was for it to be shot on location in Wales and in colour. But there were certain things going on in Wales at the time of filming that made that impossible. (Something about Hitler’s Luftwaffe throwing bombs everywhere. You can look it up.) So the movie was shot in California in a recreated Welsh mining town. Why they still couldn’t shoot in color, I don’t know. Perhaps the California landscape seemed too brown to be photographed in color.

Ford is known for his spectacular sets, especially the many westerns he shot in Monument Valley, Utah. Ford has an eye for natural beauty and he’s able to make this faux Welsh mining valley as beautiful as it can be in black and white. Yes, there is a large coal mine spitting black soot into the air, but even that looks poetic in a more menacing way. (Although the soot becomes less poetic and more destructive as the film’s events end.)

The film itself is the story of the Morgans, a coal mining family told from the perspective of the youngest son, Huw. (Roddy McDowall) It’s set in a late 19th century mining town and when the film begins the wages are good and life is going well for the Morgan family. Huw’s father, Gwilym (Donald Crisp), is the undisputed patriarch of the family and respected in the community. His mother Beth (Sarah Allgood) is kind and generous, but not a woman to be bothered with. The family is united, the city is a place of conviviality and all is well. Huw’s older brother is getting married.

Things start to go downhill after that. There are several storylines that carry this family through the film. Huw’s sister, Angharad (Maureen O’Hara), meets the town’s new preacher, Mr. Gruffydd, (Walter Pidgeon) and is immediately in love with him. The sentiment is mutual, but Mr Gruffydd refuses to pursue courtship because he does not want Angharad to live the precarious life of a local preacher. (This tells me that Mr. Gruffydd belongs to a nonconformist denomination. Church of England positions were well-paying civil service jobs.) Angharad eventually married the son of the mine owner in the place and leaves for a miserable but rich life. When she returns to the mining town without her husband, the town is scandalized by an alleged affair between the two (in reality) unrequited lovers.

The city is also torn apart by social unrest. The former high coal miner wages are cut and Huw’s older brothers want to do something about it by forming a union and going on strike. Gwilym is absolutely opposed to unionization and strikes. The dispute tears the family apart until Mom Beth and Mr. Gruffydd bring the family together, telling them to be practical and compromise. The coal miners go on strike and get their higher wages back, but Huw’s older brothers, because they were the ringleaders of the strike, are fired by the mine.

Then there is Huw’s story. He loses the use of his legs in an accident, but thanks to the therapy recommended by Mr. Gruffydd, the use of his legs eventually returns. Gwilym’s dream for his youngest son is for him to get an education and become a professional away from the mines, so they arrange for him to go to school in a distant town. However, Huw is ruthlessly harassed and bullied because he comes from a poor mining town. Huw eventually leaves school with the intention of becoming a coal miner like his father and brothers, much to his father’s disappointment.

These are the three main storylines that run through the film. The film is Huw’s love letter to his family and the idyllic lifestyle that ended because of the events of the film. Huw says this community will never go away as long as he remembers it in his heart.

How green my valley was was released in 1941, which many historians rank as one of the greatest years in Hollywood history. It is often remembered today as the film that won the Best Picture Oscar that year, beating out all-time classics such as Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon and Sergeant York. There were ten films nominated for Best Picture that year, and I’d say How green my valley was was not as good as This is Mr. Jordan Where suspension That is. I haven’t even seen the other movies. Maybe they are better too.

But unlike a lot of other movies whose Best Picture Oscar looks weird in hindsight (World’s Greatest Show, Going My Way, Dances With Wolves), How green my valley was is a good picture. It’s not my cup of tea, but I can appreciate the work Ford put into making the film and the acting roles of a stellar cast. It’s pretty treacly and that it’s not in color is a big mistake, but it has its strengths too. It’s just in one year that you’ve had two of the greatest movies ever made (Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon) and many other great ones, How green my valley was just looks bad in comparison.

(Accident it doesn’t look bad in retrospect. People were saying it was a bad Best Picture winner when it was announced.)

Here is a particularly comical scene from How green my valley was where two neighbors of Huw decide to teach his abusive school teacher a lesson in boxing.

Hopefully next week I’ll have a movie to write that I’m more excited about. But if you like this movie or any of these 1941 movies, let us know what you think in the comments.


Welcome to all of you who think jazz and movies are a waste of time.

The whole “Should (player x) be on the next big Cubs team” question I posed last week seems to have been a big hit, so I’ll keep going until I run out of players to ask about or I can think of a better question.

So tonight, I’m going to ask you if you think Justin Steele will be a “next big” Cubs starter and World Series contender.

One of the things that’s being debated in the Minor League Wrap is how the Cubs’ current farm system compares to the 2014-2015 systems. Cubs 2015 (at least the Baseball America ranking) is that the only prospect on that list still in the organization is Steele. (Willson Contreras was in the minors, sure, but he wasn’t considered a Top 30 prospect until his 2015 season.)

So it’s been a long journey for Justin and he’ll be 27 in a month. So even though he’s only in his second season in the majors, he’s not exactly a young arm. On the other hand, pitchers tend to develop at their own pace, unlike hitters who have a more predictable aging curve.

Steele’s stats this season, on the face of it, aren’t impressive with a 1-5 record and a 4.79 ERA. It also walked too crowded. On the other hand, his FIP is a very solid 3.35 and much of that ERA is the result of a poor start in late May against the Reds.

I don’t need to tell you much more about Justin Steele. You saw him pitch. I’m going to give you three choices in this poll. The first is simply “Yes”. That means you think Steele will be in the rotation for the next team in contention for the Cubs World Series. That doesn’t mean you think he’ll be a great pitcher or an ace, just that he’ll be good enough to take the mound all five days for a contending Cubs team. The second answer is “No”. That means you think Steele will be traded or released before the Cubs get really good again. The final choice is “He’ll be in the bullpen.” That means you think Steele will be on a contending Cubs team, but come out of the bullpen.

So, will Justin Steele be in the rotation of the Cubs’ ‘next big’ team?

Survey

Will Justin Steele be a starting pitcher for the Cubs’ next team?

  • 60%

    He’ll be in the bullpen

    (12 votes)


20 voices in total

Vote now

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