Wednesday, July 10, 2019

(Even) Better Know a Blogger: Trouble with the Curve

Welcome back to yet another entry in my (Even) Better Know a Blogger series.  I believe this is the final interview that I have...and unless someone sends me their answers prior to the time of my next post tomorrow, I'll consider the last entry in the series.  Enjoy - and thanks to everyone who participated either via interviews or simply by visiting my blog and checking things out!


1.       Your name (or alias if preferred):  Chris Miller
2.       Your blog website:  Trouble with the Curve
3.       Your social media handle(s):  Instagram only is where you can find me:  a_baseball_hobby_blog

4.       What are your favorite sport teams? 
I’m pretty much a baseball guy these days.   I grew up as a New York Mets fan since their AAA minor league team (Tidewater Tides) played in my city when I was growing up.  It was cool to see the guys play locally and then get called up and see them on TV.  It was really cool in the mid-80’s as many of the 86 World Champion Mets once played right in front of me.  If the NFL is on I’ll pull for the Buffalo Bills.  I think being a 90’s kid and seeing them in the Super Bowl so often is where that came from.  Back then, I was what you would call a “bandwagoner” but I think today, I could call myself a true “fan”. 

5.       What kind of collector do you consider yourself to be (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.).  Why do you collect that way?  

I have a feeling this will be a long answer.  I complete the Topps flagship set every year (whether I like the design or not) just to satisfy the continuity of it all.  I also look for sets that grab my eye.  I really like the Gypsy Queen as well as the Allen & Ginter sets.  I’m just now finishing up the 2010 Topps American Chicle.  I think I need 1 card (Chipper Jones SP) to wrap that one up.  That’s been a fun set to collect as it is an “art-deco” set featuring the works of 4 different artists.  It’s not for everyone but I’ve enjoyed it.  Of course, the Stadium Club sets are just amazing and I make a point to grab a set of those each year. 

Outside of set collecting, I have a few player collections going – Gary Carter being the most prominent.  I have over 2,000 unique Carters but am slowing down.  I even have a 1969 Topps Roberto Clemente that once belonged to Carter.  He was an avid collector himself.  After he passed away, his family auctioned off some of his cards. I also have player collection going for some guys that came out of my hometown; Michael Cuddyer, Chris Taylor, Ryan Zimmerman, and David Wright are four big ones.  I also collect random singles that catch my eye.  I’m big on cards that feature great photography or simply capture the spirit of the game.  I love cards that show players turning a slick double play, cards with diving catches, or cards that show important events in the game.  Every once in a while, you will see a card that really just epitomizes that particular player.  For instance, you can find some iconic images of Rickey Henderson swiping a bag or Ken Griffey Jr’s graceful swing.
I’ve got a binder full of nothing but catchers too so I guess you can add “catchers” to the list of what I collect.  Any card with the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field usually make the cut as well. 

I love looking at cards and finding that one little thing that I like about it.  For instance, where is the umpire on Manny Ramirez’ 2008 Stadium Club Card?  A pretty good airbrush job on Topp’s part. 

Lately, I’ve found myself collecting modern cards featuring the old-school players.  I think Topps does a great job finding new photos of those guys to feature.  I also do some “through the mail” autograph requests when I have the time.  I’ve been doing it since the late 80’s and it’s always fun to get that plain white envelope in the mail and have no idea who’s inside. 

Lastly, now that I’m a “grown up”, I can afford some of the vintage cards that I’ve always wanted.  I’m not really a “graded card” collector but if I do purchase one, I find myself sticking to PSA – probably because the cases stack nicely together.  Dumb reason I know. 

6.       What is your favorite item in your collection?  
I’ve got a few actually.  My most valuable item would probably be a Ty Cobb cut signature that I’ve had framed with a lithograph of his 1911 T3 Turkey Red card. 

I also have 3 cards that were given to me. 

My Mom gave the Strawberry for making the honor roll in 4th grade, the Clemente was a Christmas gift from my Dad one year, and the Jack Brohamer was a card that my Grandpa found tucked inside a small wooden box in an antique shop.  We had stopped there to take a break on a family trip to the mountains.  I remember him showing it to me and asking if we should buy it.  I think we paid a nickel for it.  I was about 7 at the time and it was the oldest thing I had ever owned.  I thought it was priceless.  I guess it still is.  I’d never sell or trade it. 

7.       If you could add any one card to your collection (that you don’t currently own), what card would it be and why? 
I think at this point, I need to have a Mike Trout rookie.  He’s literally the best player that the game has seen in a LONG time.  I know I said I didn’t chase cards for financial reasons but this one is a sure bet. 

I’d also love to have the 2017 Topps Opening Day Hanley Ramirez SP.  It’s simply a beautiful card that as I said before “captures the spirit of the game”.  You have Ramirez crouching down studying the pitcher while he awaits his turn at bat.  You have the B&O Warehouse of Camden Yards looking in from right field as the sun sets on the evening ballgame.  The pitcher is in mid-stride as the catcher and umpire await the pitch.  These are the kinds of cards I like to collect. 

8.       Thinking back to when you first started collecting, how have your habits changed (if at all)?  Any ideas why?  
Oh man, we could be here all day with this one.  My tastes have certainly changed over the years.  I collected as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s and enjoyed trading cards with some local kids in the neighborhood.  We used to follow the Beckett price guide religiously and made decisions based on what the numbers were doing.  Once I got to high school though, most of those kids moved away and I really didn’t have the time or money to continue collecting like I used to.  I kept the cards packed away and in the late 90’s realized that what I once thought was going to be a “gold mine”…wasn’t the case.  I also realized that I had cards of a bunch of cards that I really had no attachment to.  After college I decided to get back into collecting and took a much different approach.  Today, I simply collect what I like rather than what’s popular.  For instance, other than what’s in a complete set, I have never set out to collect a single Shohei Ohtani or Bryce Harper card.  Those two guys do absolutely nothing for me.  I just collect for me – sometimes, it’s just one tiny detail on the card that puts it into the “keeper” pile.

9.       If an alien being came down from the stars and forced you to describe yourself using no more than three cards as talking points, how would you do it?
By far the hardest question on the interview! 

Let’s see.  First card – 1909 T202 Charles Seitz – I choose this card because it features a player from Norfolk Virginia.  I love my hometown and would never leave it.  I spent way too much on this card but it’s one of my absolute favorites.

Second card – 2011 Topps Heritage Bronson Arroyo – In 2011 my wife and I honeymooned in Key West Florida and have been back several times for vacation.  It is seriously one of our favorite places.  Since Bronson was born there, he should be included.
Third and final card – 1974 Topps Carmen Fanzone – enjoying a four year career with the Red Sox and the Cubs, Fanzone retired from baseball and become an accomplished jazz musician.  I love jazz music, especially early jazz through the late 60’s. 

10.   If you could give any of the major sport card companies one piece of advice about something you’d like changed (or perhaps simply continued) what would it be? 

I’m not really a fan of how the companies feature an autographed sticker on the cards.  As anyone would, I’d much rather have an “on-card signature.” 

Speaking of autographs; I also really hate it when I see cards featuring “cut” signatures on them.  I’ve seen a lot of cards featuring signatures cut from banking checks lately.  I also think it’s in bad taste when the card companies take something like an 8x10 and cut the signature out of it to feature on a card. 

I’m also not a fan of this year’s Gypsy Queen “variation” theme.  Some of the cards are simply “missing” the player name or the team logo is either the wrong team or missing altogether.  It’s just crazy. 

Don’t even get started on these Topps Bunt “digital cards”! 

On a positive note, despite Topps being the major player in the industry, I love that we have so many different options on what we can collect.  Topps does a great job of producing enough products for all types collectors.  Lots of fun insert sets and different styles of cards out there these days. 

11.   Where do you live?  What is your favorite local food?
Born and raised in Norfolk/Virginia Beach area.  Living here on the coast, we have access to a tremendous amount of fresh seafood which is always good.  I’ve got a little Italian restaurant down the block from my house that has some of the best pizza in town.  Check out Reginella’s if you’re ever in the area.

12.   If someone were to visit you, what place (within an hour of travel from your residence) would you suggest someone be sure to check out?  
I’m kind of a history buff so I would recommend checking out Jamestown (first permanent English settlement in the America’s), Fort Monroe which played a pivotal role in the American Civil War, and the Cavalier Hotel which was built during the roaring 20’s and served as one of the most luxurious hotels on the east coast for many years.  Socialites, politicians, musicians and celebrities all stayed there.  Adolph Coors who founded Coors Brewery committed suicide by leaping out of his sixth floor window in 1929.  He was old, sick and suffering financially from the effects of prohibition.   Many people who knew him said that he was such a miserable person that they weren’t all that sad to see him go whether he jumped or fell.  *ouch!*

13.   What is your profession?  How did you end up there?  
I work for a food service distributor as their Learning & Development Manager so I work with a team of 15 in the Southeast.  I graduated from Elon College in 2001, (the same alma matter at Ted William’s best friend and Boston hurler Tom Brewer) and worked at a private country club for a while.  In 2006 I went on to open a restaurant with a few other guys and ran that for a few years.  I guess that set the stage for what I do now.

14.   Do you have any hobbies besides card collecting? 
My wife says I’m WAY too “into my yardwork”.  I like to read but with a 4-year-old son at home, it’s usually complete pandemonium at my house.  If I had more quiet time, I’d get more reading done.  My parents have a lake house that we enjoy going to and spending time out on the water.  My wife and I both appreciate listening to music and Netflix has made me realize how much of a couch potato I can be.

15.   Tell me something interesting about yourself that hasn’t been covered in the first 14 questions!
I have a relative that played major league baseball.  I can’t remember how my “greats” to use here but let’s just say he’s my great-great-great-great uncle.  Jack Wentz had a pretty successful minor league career from 1887 to 1904.  He actually played a few years of minor league ball in Norfolk Virginia (with Charles Seitz pictured above) which is really ironic considering that it’s my home town.  In 1891 he played 2nd base for the Evansville Hoosiers in the Northwestern League.  As the American Association was collapsing, they were begging for players.  He signed up and played in one game.  He went 1 for 4 with 2 errors. 


Once again, a huge thank you to our latest participant in my (Even) Better Know a Blogger series.  I've had a blast reading everyone's answers including Chris' replies today.  I have to give Chris lots of extra credit points for including so many interesting images for me to use throughout his interview as well!

As for some of Chris' specific answers, I must say that I appreciated all the history he included in his replies.  For example, I had never heard of the Cavalier Hotel before but now I'm inspired to learn a bit more about it.  I also think Chris' love of baseball was apparent throughout the interview - especially when he discussed what he collected.  Good stuff all the way around!

That will basically wrap up this edition of (Even) Better Know a Blogger.  Who knows, maybe in another three or four years I'll run another edition of the series...until then, a big thank you to everyone who took part in any way, shape, or form!


Nick Vossbrink said...

Did I miss my entry or did my email back to you get waylaid?

Nick Vossbrink said...

Anyway I've just forwarded my reply to you since it looks like the internet ate it.

Fuji said...

That Manny SC card is a head scratcher. And can't say I've ever met anyone who owns a Ty Cobb autograph. That is awesome! As for his blog... my essential reading list continues to grow.

Matt said...

Wait, another Bills fan living in Virginia? Consider your blog followed!

Nick Vossbrink said...

So FYI I've sent you a couple emails in the past week and I don't know if anything's getting through…

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