Sunday, October 16, 2016

It's Miller Time

With last night's thrilling and completely unexpected go-ahead grandslam by Miggy Montero, I'm sure the title of this post is a phrase that was uttered in exuberance in bars all across Wrigleyville.  I mean, after having blown their game-long lead on a series of poor relief appearances and very nearly squandering a lead-off double by Ben Zobrist in the very next inning, euphoria was felt all across the Chicagoland area.

That is - if people even still use that bit of advertising copy from the 80's anymore.  I suppose that reference is kind of dated, huh?

At any rate, the title is not an homage to the celebratory mood felt by Cubs fans after that win; rather, it relates to my nerves and restlessness-fueled trip to the LCS leading up to said contest. Being that it was a Saturday and I work for a school, I wasn't on the clock.  Furthermore, since my fiancee wasn't so lucky and we had already completed our laundry list of errands, I had nothing to do but sit around and anticipate game one of the NLCS.  Instead of sitting around and wallowing in my Cubs fan nerves, I decided to pay visit to the card shop.  Seems like a proper way to kill time on gameday, right?

After distractedly digging through the shop's quarter boxes for roughly an hour, it truly was "Miller time."

Ah-ha! Lame puns - the creative base around which this entire blog is built around!

Wade Miller was a scrap-heap flier picked up by the Cubs back in 2006.  The former Astros' rotation standout was coming off of an arm injury and the Cubs saw a "low risk/high reward" opportunity.  Notably he made the rotation over Mark Prior going into 2007; however, he was immediately smacked around, posting an ERA over ten in 3 starts - the last appearances of his MLB career.

His time with the club was brief; thus, there are only two cards that feature Wade in a Cubs uniform that I am aware of.  It wasn't until yesterday that I was finally able to track this 2007 UD single (with a "gripping" photo choice) down and add this "Cubgrade" to my CATRC binder.  Score!

However, this discount box was a generous one, as the Millers just kept on flowing:

Another Miller card that I needed, yay!

Zach Miller was another low cost/high reward signing, this time by the Chicago Bears rather than the Cubs.  Unlike Wade, Zach's story has a happier ending.  After all, he is currently the tight end and one of the few players worth watching on this lackluster squad.  Furthermore, he's succeeded against some extremely long odds, emerging as a star in 2015 after having been out of action since 2011.

Like Wade Miller, I'd already had a card of Zach in another team's uniform (the Jaguars).  Thankfully, he made his first appearance on cardboard in the orange and blue in this year's edition of Donruss - a set which I find strangely appealing, despite it's roots in one of the junk wax era's worst offenders.  Anywho, yay for upgrades!

The previous Miller representation.

However, it wasn't just upgrades that I was able to uncover in this particular trip to the card shop.  Additionally, I was lucky enough to find a couple of completely new additions to my Bears All-Time Roster Collection (none of them named Miller, by the way):

Both of these men are exemplary of a couple longstanding traditions in Chicago football - high profile draft busts and quarterbacks who just can't cut the mustard.

For Marcus, the tackle was drafted in the second round of the 1994 draft, but never started a single game in a Bears uniform.  In fact, he only ever appeared in 9 games for the franchise and those came two years after his selection.  Meanwhile, Virgil Carter is one of many potential-filled arms who tried to fill the QB black hole in between Sid Luckman and Jay Cutler.  He had much more success with team he's pictured on here - the Cincinatti Bengals.

That did it for cards that currently slot into binders in my collection; but, I did pick up one more card with an eye towards the future:

Ryan Williams is a finesse-pitching prospect on the cusp of a Major League call-up.  The tenth round draft choice in 2014 has glided through the Cubs system, being named the organization's Pitcher of the Year in '15, spending this spring in Major League camp and reaching AAA before all was said and done.  Injuries limited his time, but one has to figure that his name will be bandied about as one of the first arms up next year.  So, I figured I should have one of his cards in my queue, ready to be inserted in to the CATRC if and when Ryan should get the call.

The one thing that really struck me about this 2016 Bowman single (his first mass-produced card) is that Ryan's "ugly pitching face" strongly resembles a cartoon character from our collective youth...

The resemblance is uncanny, no?  If he ever gets in a tough spot on the mound, the pitching coach better run him out a can of spinach!

Speaking of spinach, it was at about this time that my own stomach started to speak up and it became clear to me that it was time to move onto a new distraction - dinner.  Foolhardy me - one should always make sure that they have a full stomach before taking in a bunch of Millers!  Nevertheless, all in all, I'd say it was a pretty successful trip.  Finding these needs sure did put me in a good mood.

That mood was only further improved by (most of) that night's game and Javy Baez, Dexter Fowler and Montero's heroics.  If the Cubs can steal game two away from a likely fatigued Clayton Kershaw, it will go through the roof.

I might have to celebrate with a few real Millers should that occur.


  1. Scrap heap flier? I have always liked the term "Low Hanging Fruit". I believe it was a term coined by long time St Louis Post Dispatch writer Joe Struass.

  2. It would have been great if they were playing Colorado... because they could have then "topped the Rockies"