Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
The Black Boid
2006-02-19 08:56
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Dag, it got brick cold again in New York this weekend. Em and I watched "The Maltese Falcon" last night. "This is good," she tells me (like I don't know). I say, "Sure it is, honey" without trying to sound like a stuffed shirt. Today gives cooking--for me at least--a hearty soup, a pot of marinara sauce for whenver, and Emily's weekly soy-nut-bulgar-surprise (hey, I don't ask questions when it comes to her food, I just cook it, bro).

Breifly, crusing around the local papers, here are a few tidbits:

Tyler Kepner on Aaron Small; Bill Madden on Ron Guidry; Joe Torre on Mariano Rivera; Brian Cashman on Gary Sheffield, and finally, George Steinbrenner on Ozzie Guillen (and yeah, I purposely avoided Ozzie's SI quotes earlier this week because the last thing we need is the comments section to spin out all day on another boring Alex Rodriguez-is-a-phony debate). For what it is worth, Guillen issued a public apology to Rodriguez.

Hey, any fans out there planning on going to spring training this year? I've never been myself, but if you are gunna go, or if you've been in the past, I'd love to hear what it is like. Might help keep us all warm on a cold day in the Big Apple.

2006-02-19 11:40:37
1.   Matt B
Oh man, you cannot go wrong with The Maltese Falcon, bro. "Its the stuff that dreams are made of."

I love the scene of Bogie and Greenstreet - "I like talking to a man who likes to talk." I love how Huston shot Greenstreet. And don't forget to look for Walter Huston as Capt. Jacoby.

2006-02-19 12:08:15
2.   singledd
Off topic: On Small....
"That, he explained, was how he used to throw a sinker. Last spring, the pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre suggested that he move his fingers up a bit, so only the right one rested on a seam. The effect was astounding."

Stotts took a lot of shit from bloggers for being useless. Did he perform a miracle on Aaron Small?

2006-02-19 12:17:01
3.   wsporter
"The Maltese Falcon" is the best detective ever made. Period. That's the list. IMHO.

I was lucky enough last week to catch a double feature of "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Third Man". It just doesn't get better than that.

How do chicks not know about this stuff? I'm still amazed.

2006-02-19 12:40:40
4.   Alex Belth
I've never done a top-ten list of my favorite all-time movies, but both "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Third Man" would make the grade, for sure. Hey Matt, I didn't know that Jacoby was Walter Huston. Great catch. I love all the names in that movie--Wilmer, Effie, Thursby. It's also expertly shot. I remember reading an article about Danny Huston, who was the script writer on his father's last movie, "The Dead." In the piece he said how amazed he was at his father's techical skill with the camera. When he told his dad how impressed he was, he added, "Dad, I didn't know you were such a whiz with the camera." (Or words to that effect.) And John replied, "That's because you are not supposed to notice."

It's like Bertolucci saying that he'd never work with an editor again if they ever won an award for their work on one of his movies. The point being, if the audience is admiring the technique, they are being taken out of the story. I've always loved storytellers with the discipline to keep everything focused on the only thing that counts: the story.

2006-02-19 15:25:32
5.   wsporter
Alex, There's a great story about Harrison Ford who was up for a part in a movie during the early part of his career. During casting an associate producer was telling him that he just didn't look like an actor. The producer went on to say that "the first time I saw Tony Curtis in a movie he was playing a grocery clerk and I said to myself 'wow now look at that, I really see a movie star'." To which Harrison Ford is supposed to have responded "that's funny, I thought you were supposed to see a grocery clerk"

Doing more with less is always a beautiful thing. We had a nice little thread going a couple of months ago concerning minimalism. It's hard to accuse John Huston of being a minimalist but the message is clear: get out of the way of the story and you're doing your job. If the audience is aware of the editing it only detracts from the story. If they're aware that a "Star" is playing a role and aren't lost in the performance itself what does that ultimately say about the performance.

I think the same thing can be said in sports. We can admire the beauty of a great offensive line working together but we the audience really aren't aware of it unless it's screwing up. A baseball GM is I think analogous or least can be. We really won't notice that Cashman is having an effect on the inner workings of the Yankees unless he's screwing up.

Ken Davidoff has something on this in Newsday today that I really like the sound of. He talks about how Cashman is making some subtle yet important changes in the Yankee structure. About how he hasn't attacked the Tampa office with a metaphoric meat clever. I do think we need to give Cashman some time to put his stamp on this thing; OPP and the other criticisms not withstanding. Hopefully, in time, that stuff will prove to be the forgotten debris of a bygone era. I think BC's making a good start.

Many times in an organization it's smaller, less dramatic changes than those that are widely called for during times of conflict that have dramatic and far reaching affects on the way business is done. BC seems to understand that in some ways it's the very culture of the Yankees that requires changing. I think that ultimately, that's what his new contract is about. This is something that goes beyond who is on the field today yet this philosophy will ultimately effect how that aspect is decided. I think in some important ways this is precisely what John Huston was talking about: "get out of the way of the winning and your doing your job".

Christ this turned into a novel, sorry.

2006-02-19 15:36:43
6.   Erik Siegrist
I don't know where I'd put on my list of "best" or "favorite" movies, but the Maltese Falcon is probably the most perfect movie ever made. And ever will be, for that matter. Tops the list for adaptations too; the only important or interesting thing missing from the book is the Flitcraft story, which would have been impossible to work in there anyway.
2006-02-19 16:06:23
7.   wsporter
I went back and reread the "Flitcraft story" in Chapter 7. I had forgotten about it. What a great book this is. I know what I'm reading again tonight. It's a nice little piece of foreshadowing. Spade is who he is and there's nothing he can do to change; character is fate I'd guess is the point.

It is what the story is about but you're right, how do you get it in where it was.

2006-02-19 16:31:57
8.   brockdc
Being a cinefile, I've always disappointed myself in how much indifference I have toward "The Maltese Falcon." Love my boy Peter Lorre, though.

On a totally unrelated note, can anyone instruct me on how to calculate VORP? I'm a saber neophyte and am currently feuding with a West Coast buddy of mine over Sheff versus Vlad. Based on the amount of time missed by Vlad, I'm almost certain that Sheff has been the more valuable of the two over the past two seasons (not that you could really go wrong either way).

2006-02-19 17:11:54
9.   Ravenscar
wsporter, #3:

"How do chicks not know about this stuff? I'm amazed."

Errrr.... because too many of the guys who are into this stuff repeatedly call them "chicks" and "babes"? Just a guess.

The Maltese Falcon is undeniably brilliant, the apex of the genre - 3 other faves from that era are "Murder, My Sweet", "Spellbound", and more Bogie, "The Big Sleep".

2006-02-19 17:13:13
10.   Ravenscar
Um, that should say "personal faves".

That entry otherwise sounds like it's from Wikipedia.

2006-02-19 17:23:48
11.   Erik Siegrist
Yeah, wsporter -- in the book it perfectly sets up the ending as inevitable; in the movie, they just had to "make do" with Bogart's acting to let the audience know Spade simply hadn't been playing Brigit all along, that who he was and who she was left him with no choice at all.

That bitter, twisted snarl on his face when he talks about waiting for her to get out... man, what a fantastic piece of work. Bogie never got enough respect for his acting ability.

2006-02-19 18:18:09
12.   wsporter
Erik, I'm constantly and consistently amazed by Bogie in many of his films. I just watch him do what he does and try to imagine someone else doing it and it's impossible for me to see it. Whether its Casablanca, High Sierra, In a Lonely Place, Africa Queen and on and on. There is a reason he has endured and endures almost 50 years after his death.

When I watch Alan Ladd in Shane I can think of a number of actors at the time who could have played the role of a ticking time bomb and done it perhaps more convincingly. I can't imagine that in any of Bogie's big immortal roles. Robert Montgomery, Alan Ladd even Robert Mitchum's Philip Marlowe characterizations for example all seem thin to me after The Big Sleep. Although I suppose Hawks and Faulkner could have something to do with that. Even his melting scene in the Caine Mutiny is a thing of beauty, although I hate to watch it.

Errr… Sorry Ravenscar, that was not very PC of me. I suppose I got carried away with the talk about Bogie. However, the work is good enough to stand on its own despite the apparent idiocy of some of the individual men who value it. I guess I'll have to ask all the women I know to stop saying the word chick.

2006-02-19 18:34:17
13.   Zavo
Can't say much about "The Maltese Falcone" (but will rent it after this discussion), but to Alex's question, I did go to spring taining last year.

My wife surprised me for my birthday, with tickets from NY to Tampa and tickets to the Yankees/Pirates at Legends Field. What a cool thing I thought it was seeing the mini monument park.

We stayed about 2 miles from the Yankee complex - and boy is it a complex. I believe there were 2 side-fields and then Legends Field but I'n not certain about that. We got to the park early and just sat in the sun. It was probably about 70 degrees, absolutely perfect baseball weather and a nice respit from a New York winter.

It happened to be a split squad day, so not the whole roster was there, but we did get to see Bernie and Posada which was great for my wife as those are two of her favorites. Pavano was on the hill which and I hoped he would show well in his first Yankee spring and he did that day. In between innings we saw him running the side field and I liked to see the work ethic, my hopes for him at that point were high, even though I didn't like the signing at the time...

This is getting way to long, the Yanks lost it in the ninth. Did get to see Duncan play an inning at third base and K in the ninth, I believe it might have been his only AB last spring. It was a great experience and I'd love to do it again and for longer. I recommend it for any Yankee fan.

2006-02-19 19:39:39
14.   Ravenscar
wsporter - understood....

"I guess I'll have to ask all the women I know to stop saying the word chick."

Ohhhh I saw that one coming a mile away, however. ;-)

2006-02-19 19:42:45
15.   Ravenscar
How do all you guys feel about Kev's retirement? Or had you blocked out his very existence by now? He used to pitch for you guys once, you know. No, really.
2006-02-19 20:10:34
16.   Start Spreading the News
Kevin Brown? He's dead to me-- since the day he punched the wall.
2006-02-19 20:27:58
17.   BklynBomber
Great query, Alex — spring training is something I've always wanted to take in, and would love to hear some tales. An uncle of mine has been hitting it religiously since the early '50s and watched rookies from The Mick to Jeter and everyone inbetween. I clearly remember him telling me, "Hey, watch out for this Bernie Williams kid. This guy is gonna make the team." Along with the "Didn't I tell ya" ever since then.

Quick snip that at least I didn't know about the Yanks spring training locales:

"The New York Yankees have held spring training in the following locations: Baltimore (1901); Savannah, Ga. (1902); Atlanta (1903-1904); Montgomery, Ala. (1905); Birmingham, Ala. (1906); Atlanta (1907-1908); Macon, Ga. (1909); Athens, Ga. (1910-1911); Atlanta (1912); Hamilton, Bermuda (1913); Houston (1914); Savannah, Ga. (1915); Macon, Ga. (1916-1918); Jacksonville (1919-1920); Shreveport (1921); New Orleans (1922-1923); St. Petersburg (1924-1942); Asbury Park, N.J. (1943); Atlantic City (1944-1945); St. Petersburg (1946-1950); Phoenix (1951); St. Petersburg (1952-1961); Ft. Lauderdale (1962-1995); Tampa (1996-present)."


2006-02-19 21:39:23
18.   cooperjude
Seeing that Ft. Lauderdale reference as a former Yankee training site brought back childhood memories of playing on Boggs Field in Hollywood, Florida, a site claimed to be a "training field for the New York Yankees."

As for the Maltese Falcon, there's no denying Bogart's excellence in that movie. But if we're going to talk about other actors in the film, Mary Astor's performance as Brigid O'Shaughnessy was, IMO, outstanding. She brought that scamming chameleon to life.

Finally, for those of you who have not read Hammett's other detective novels, particularly the "Continental Op" mysteries such as "Red Harvest," check them out. In comparing the amount of "noir" in the stories, The Maltese Falcon is twilight, while Red Harvest is about 4 a.m.

2006-02-19 23:44:37
19.   joejoejoe
Anthony McCarron in the Daily News:
"...Rivera's initial bullpen session has become a news event of sorts the last few springs because of how FRAGILE the reliever's arm has been..."

Since when does a Rivera have a fragile arm? A precious arm I can see but not fragile.

1996 61 G 107 IP
1997 66 G 77 IP
1998 54 G 61 IP
1999 66 G 69 IP
2000 66 G 75 IP
2001 71 G 80 IP
2002 45 G 46 IP
2003 64 G 70 IP
2004 74 G 78 IP
2005 71 G 78 IP

Only Robb Nenn and Trevor Hoffman are comparable in # of appearances and consistency and neither are comparable in achievement. Rivera has been the Yankees' most reliable player pitcher for 10 years. Fragile he ain't.

2006-02-20 06:04:30
20.   Dimelo
In wsporter defense, I still use the words "chicks" and "babes" and I'm proud to use them. When the "chicks" and "babes" stop asking me to watch 'Message in a Bottle, 'The Titanic', or worse....'Steel Magnolias' or 'Beaches', then that's when I stop using the words "chicks" and "babes". Just my 2 pennies and that's about all my thoughts are worth, though I do understand I might've overvalued my initial estimate.

I liked the Matlese Falcon, it's one of my favorite movies but it still hasn't cracked my top 5 movies. This is my personal list and it's in no particular order:
1. Raging Bull
2. Usual Suspects
3. Godfather 2
4. Godfather 1
5. Scarface

The other movies that come really close and that I own:
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
French Connection (the first one)
Guns of Navarone

2006-02-20 06:58:36
21.   Erik Siegrist
Ah, Red Harvest... it'd be nice if someone turned that into a movie someday. ;)

(For those not in on the joke: Kurosawa loosely adapted Red Harvest as Yojimbo, which then got turned into Fistful of Dollars by Leone, which then got turned into Last Man Standing by Walter Hill -- returning the story to its original time and place but getting further away from the actual book itself.)

2006-02-20 07:07:00
22.   The Mick 536
Too much to talk about. Cold day in Vt. Not as windy as yesterday, but a good day to make soup. Pea Soup and Mushroom Barley. All invited.

Attended first Spring Training in early sixties in West Palm Beach at the Braves camp. In early teens. Played high school ball. Played catch with bat or ball boy. Shagged fouls and returned balls. Watched drills. Not a lot of people at practices. Saw a few games, but cannot remember who played or who won. My cousin had tickets. He didn't stay to the end. Saw Aaron, Matthews, Crandall. Don't remember Torre.

Didn't go again until late 80's and early 90's. One year, went to Grapefruit and Cactus. Was at the first game at Giant's stadium in Scottsdale. Sat behind woman who was hit in face with ball. Watched pitchers warm up and drills in morning. Best day was outfield practice. Bonds throwing to the bases. Unbleievable. Saw the Cubs, Cardinals, and cannot remember who else. Stadium so clean you could eat off the floor in the bathroom. Had to buy tickets at premium. Cops on bicycles patrolled looking for scalpers.Friday night benefit for Humana against Cubs, SRO with beautiful people. Just geougeous. Pink sky. Chardonnay at the concession stand.

In West Palm, saw Expos and Braves. They shared the same stadium. If you walked to the Expo side, they sold Canadian beer. On the Braves side, US beer, Bud, I think. Sat behind dugout. Best seat I ever had. Wore a Jank hat. Took grief. Bought an Expo hat which I still have.

Went to Ft. Lauderdale to see Janks. Some people wore sports jackets to the game. Rains came. Couldn't believe I spent $50 for a ticket, drove an hour, and got rained out. Just remember being cold.

2006-02-20 07:12:18
23.   wsporter
Dimelo, Thanks, I can use all the defense I can get. My PC sensibilities are rather narrowly defined. Someday maybe B Banter can get a thread going on how we as a culture have apparently substituted PC rules for concepts of civility, respect and politeness. It seems that way from my POV anyway.

Ravenscar, # 15, Kevin who? I'll usually defend our guys till the last dog dies but not that guy. I still can't believe we made that trade, even if we did send Weaver packing. The poster boy for OPP? (I can say that now that I know what it is)

2006-02-20 07:33:04
24.   Rob Gee
wsport -

And why did we get rid of the Dream? Because he didn't turn out to be a #1 (same too with Vazquez). Except both are legit #3's or 4's. All those prospects to chase OPP. Sad really.

You know I really hope that we win this year, and CASH-man shuts me up in the process. Unfortunately that's the division between my emotional and rational minds.

Nick -

I stand corrected - we lost 4 draft picks this year (1st and 2nd for Damon/ 2nd and 3rd for Farns) and gained two for Gordon (1st and 2nd). Sum total = -2 from OPP


2006-02-20 07:34:08
25.   The Mick 536

Happy that the mention of his name starts a flurry of responses about bests ever, rekindling fond memories of movie watching and talking. Our cahiers du cinema, yes.

Four categories come to mind (not exclusive): Top Ten (cannot be most fav, impossible); Best Bogart (tough, tough); Best Film Noir (James Ursini definition); Best Private Detective Story (oh, where to begin).

No doubt, The Maltese Falcon makes all the lists. But, eh!

Not close to top on my Top Ten list, but there.

Just in my top five on the Bogey list (Casablanca [Bergman], African Queen [Hepburn, Kate], To Have and Have Not [Ms. Bacall/Brennan/Hawks and Hemmingway], Sabrina [Hepburn, Audry], The Maltese Falson [Astor/Sidney/Lorre]). Hon. Mention: Treasure of Sierra Madre [Walter Huston/Blake, Robert/ Holt-no dames]).

Best Noir. I like Double Indemnity [Fred Flubberdad/Edward G/Barbara], Chinatown for one in color.

Private Dicks. Hard to top the Big Sleep. How about Elliot Gould in the Altman movie with Nina Von Pallandt and Jankee JIM BOUTON (last scene a killer)? And there is always Robert Mitchum, who by the way starred with Ronda Flemming in Out of the Past, another great noir.


Thanks for the opportunity.

2006-02-20 08:35:30
26.   wsporter
Mick 536, The way I think of it is that it was Jane Greer in the starring role in Out Of The Past with Mitch. RF had a small but important role as a quisling secretary. Rhonda Flemming, yes, she was all that.

I think Maltese Falcon is a great and important movie. Great because it is a nearly perfect film and important because it defined a new genre of film. Double Indemnity is right there in my way of thinking. The dialoge in that movie is on par with anything ever done in Hollywood and that includes "His Girl Friday".

There isn't a movie on that list I don't love. Great stuff Mick. Have you seen "In A Lonely Place"? Bogey produced that one, I really like it. It's a level below the great ones but it still holds up. His character has a great name in that one - Dickson Steele. Only Bogey could have gotten away with that.

2006-02-20 08:47:51
27.   wsporter
Rob, You're 100% right on that. Giving away Brozoban still hurts. The Johnson deal I can live with. I know your objections from the BUC POV but you've got to give something to get something. Is Unit OPP from your POV?

It's viewing both deals together that causes the pain to become extreme. I still can't believe we picked up Brown. It's an organizational stain that won't be expunged. Why, Why, Why, Why? Its starting again, I have to go.

2006-02-20 08:59:32
28.   Rob Gee
Heck yeah Unit is OPP -

Two legit propects + 32 mil (for extension) + Vazquez (N.Johnson, etc + 9 mil to help his cover his salary).

What did we get in return? A Game 3 disaster. That said, he could have a monster year and we win the Serious - but does that make it worth it?

2006-02-20 09:41:06
29.   The Mick 536

You are correct about Ms. Flemming. Also in the picture,Kirk Douglas debuts. Real tough guy.

Haven't seen In a Lonely Place in years. Remember Bogey's disquieting character gave me the willies. Have to Netflix it and get back to you. Supposed to be a perfect noir.

2006-02-20 10:12:10
30.   wsporter
Rob, if we win the serious because the Unit is ...well ... the Unit, then I would have to say yes it was worth it.

I hated to give up Knick Johnson in the Vazquez deal but if no Vazquez then no Unit and no Unit, in this scenario anyway, no Serious.

But I'm with you man, it was a crazy way to do business.

2006-02-20 14:12:36
31.   brockdc
If you guys are true Bogie fans (and if anyone is still reading this thread), check him out in "The Roaring Twenties," opposite gangster genre icon, James Cagney.

Dimelo, are you referring to Paul Muni's "Scarface" or Pacino's? I hope the former.

2006-02-20 15:24:42
32.   wsporter
brockdc, Been there, done that, will do it again and again and again. No snake in the grass like that snake in the grass.
2006-02-20 15:59:34
33.   Matt B
Alex, I hear what you're saying about restrained camera work, but I think it all depends on the material and the skill of the director. There's a huge gulf between the visual genius of "showy" directors like Welles, Murnau, Hitchcock, Polanski, et al and those who are just jerking around. The great ones evoked emotions and ideas with a moving camera much the way a more static director does with mise-en-scene and dialogue. It doesn't distract from the story, it adds layers of meaning and feeling to it.
2006-02-20 20:43:10
34.   brockdc
Matt B -

Great, great point. Stylization isn't necessarily a bad thing, in and of itself. But when nifty camera tricks fail to serve as an effective means for a narrative, i.e., when having fun with the camera no longer does anything to further the plot or character development of a story, then it just becomes excessive and/or pretentious. Welles and Kubrick were prime examples of developming and implementing their respective techniques (deep focus, steady cam) to enhance the plot and emotion of the film.

Watching "The Constant Gardner" last night reminded me of why I rarely watch any movies post-1980. What could've been a pretty decent movie was ruined (in my mind, at least) by stupid director tricks. It is the exception these days that directors/producers/editors actually give the scene a chance to breathe.

2006-02-21 10:37:47
35.   The Mick 536
Thanks WSPORTER for reminding me of the missing chaper in the movie. Reread. Must have skipped it when I read it in my youth. Still the one mystery novel that all have to chase.

Just some trivia from the book and movie which have a BB feel, even if out of the base line, a little.

Who discovers Archer's body. Officer Shilling.
What kind of tobacco does Samuel Spade smoke? Bull Durham.
What catcher appears on the front page of the newspaper Wilmer reads in the hotel? Don't know!

2006-02-21 11:13:34
36.   Matt B
My favorite line in The Maltese Falcon...paraphrasing from memory, but I believe it's, "Miles getting bumped off upset me, and then you birds cracking foxy."

Ward Bond & Barton MacLane...Man did Huston cast that picture perfectly or what?

2006-02-21 17:10:34
37.   Matt B
brockdc - I'm not sure the frenetic camerawork of The Constant Gardner was unmotivated, I'm just not sure it worked. I think he was going for an effect, but I just felt it didn't always work. For me, the performances overrode it anyway (and I like LeCarre to begin with). However, take ANY Tony Scott film - now there's a guy who completely jerks around with no purpose at all.
2006-02-21 18:34:38
38.   The Mick 536
Don't it surprise ya that tha first drink he has when returning from viewing Archer's body at the scene is Baccardi rum. Not a typical SF drink,eh?
2006-02-22 06:51:35
39.   Matt B
The Mick 536 -
Who knows, maybe Bacardi was a very "in" drink at the moment. Vodka didn't become popular 'til the would have figured Marlowe to be more of a Scotch or rye guy. The book was published during prohibition, and I don't recall what he drinks in it.
Another idle trivia bit - at one point, Warners wanted to name the film "The Gent from Frisco." Seriously.
2006-02-22 06:52:14
40.   Matt B
D'oh! I said Marlowe and obviously meant Spade. Sorry Dashiell, Raymond, Bogie and all others.

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