Thursday, January 3, 2019

It's rainin' all over the world

Sometimes when I'm dealing with something with which I'm not very familiar, I'll try to relate it to something that I do know, something from my time.

This happens a lot these days because the older you get, the less familiar the world is. You'd think it would be just the opposite: you've been on the earth longer than a lot of people, you should be more familiar with it, right? But, no, Alexa is not in my house; I haven't seen Infinity War (it is something you see, right?); and I have never read a single political tweet, no, not even from that guy.

So it was when I received a bunch of cards from Josh D. of Royals and Randoms on Christmas Eve. Inside contained a note saying that they were Dodger cards for Christmas, just in case I didn't get any (good thinking, I didn't). The cards were enclosed in wrapping paper. No, it wasn't Christmas wrap. It had dragonflies on it. I just chalked it up to new Christmas wrapping paper that all the kids were using.

The majority of the Dodger cards were from this:

Some of you are nodding your head because you know exactly what this is and what to do with it. I guarantee that all of you nodding were not around for our nation's Bicentennial.

I do actually know what this is, because over the years I've received a fair amount of cards from MLB Showdown from fellow collectors. I know it's a card game. But that's about it.

There were so many Dodger cards from the set in the package that I started to look at the numbers on the cards, wondering what they meant, and then the music started forming in my head. "She cried to the southern wind, about a love that was sure to end ..."

I began singing it in my head, not even consciously. This was my brain finding something familiar in this rather unfamiliar card set: the ELO song "Showdown". It was released in 1973 and was one of ELO's first hits. It's very distinctive for ELO, probably one of its more funky tunes.

So that's what got me through deciphering these cards. I still don't know how to play the game with these cards. But I did do enough research for this post so I can give you a little background on it. You can't survive on ELO lyrics alone. (🎵"Every dream in her heart was gone, headed for a showdown.🎵🎵")

The cards were created by Wizards of the Coast, well-known for their role-playing games and the brains behind "Magic: The Gathering" and all that stuff I ignore when I'm in the card aisle. But obviously they've made a bunch of cash over the years and they don't need a baseball interactive card game anymore. But at the time it was a thing.

From what I've read, MLB Showdown was fairly popular in the beginning, drawing both gamers and card collectors.

I kind of like the look of the 2000 and 2001 MLB Showdown cards. Probably the best part for me is these sets offered players I don't see in Dodger uniforms very often such as Gregg Olson, in the lower right.

The card game came with a 20-sided dye and depending on what you rolled, you'd see what the batter's chart or the pitcher's chart said. I can't get into the game any more than that because I've never played it. And I'm going to run out of things to say about this set soon. (🎶 "Bad dreamer, what's your name. Looks like we're riding on the same train ... 🎵").

There were a bunch of Dodgers from the 2001 set in the package. I think I like this set the best.

I mean that card looks cool to me.

Just one card from the 2002 set in the package ...

But it's a notable one. Unfortunately, Alex Cora is now on the shit list that also includes:

A.J. Hinch, Bob Lemon, Billy Martin, Alvin Dark, Hank Bauer, Casey Stengel, Bucky Harris, Joe McCarthy, Tris Speaker and Bill Carrigan.

You get in the way of the Dodgers winning a World Series, I won't like you for a long time.

As the Showdown series continued, it added more reality to the card fronts.

The later sets contain game backgrounds and look more like baseball cards, except for those rounded corners.

I'm rather surprised how long MLB Showdown lasted -- all the way through 2005. Outside of the APBA board games, which have been going on since long before I was a kid, I can't think of anything similar that's lasted as long.

That's an interesting collection of players on the Dodgers team in 2004, huh? Maybe they should have won something.

OK, this is the last year for MLB Showdown and I've officially run out of things to say. ("🎵 Looks as though there'll be more pain, headed for a showdown.🎶🎶")

Always nice to find another Jose Lima Dodgers card.

And what's this? A Wilson Alvarez Dodgers card? There aren't a lot of those.

MLB Showdown also issued special postseason sets and promo sets and because it was trying to be a collectibles set, too, there are short-prints and parallels and a bunch of stuff I'll probably never look into.

There are also strategy cards that aren't easy to catalog by year if you're doing the collecting thing instead of the gaming thing. But I'll figure them out.

Josh also sent a few recent Dodger cards:

And a little less recent ones:

And a couple of Asian aces from -- ack, 25 years ago!

I'm not a fan of how fast the years go by these days. Those MLB Showdown cards are getting to be close to 20 years ago and that doesn't seem right for something that was still being published when "Boom, goes the dynamite" was a thing.

But then I'm always shocked by how young people are and what they weren't around to see. Every time someone says they were 4 in 1988 (the year I graduated from college), the world seems to make less and less sense.

Fortunately, I have my ways of coping.


  1. I just posted about the ProSet Music Superstars. It is the first pack I have opened of it from my Christmas packs.

  2. The interesting thing for me with this is how in Magic or Pokemon cards don't come in yearly sets and instead you build a living deck, yet Wizards felt like baseball cards had to still be a yearly issue. I would've been fascinated if instead this had been a 5-year Living Set where you could add new players/cards to your already-existing deck.

  3. If it makes you feel any better, I was six in 1988 :)

    Oh, and I f***ing love ELO! Not counting any of the import stuff, I have all of their albums on vinyl (a few on CD too).

  4. As someone who was around for the Bicentennial, I know what the Showdown cards are, but had no idea how to play and didn't know much of the history. To me they aren't really baseball cards.

    "Showdown" is one of my favorite ELO songs. It's got just enough of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" in it to make it awesome. I took my Dad to see ELO at Madison Square Garden this past summer and they were great. Catch them if you have the chance.

  5. Another song on my playlist. That’s two in the last week. Good taste in music.

  6. i will keep your wantlist for the musicards handy as I open the packs.

  7. Saw the tease on Twitter and jumped here because I thought for sure this was a Brook Benton reference. I like ELO but Brook Benton was amazing. LOL...I liked the post anyway. Can't believe you still hold a grudge against Hank Bauer. ;-)

    1. gotta go to the :50 second mark of that video to catch my drift.

    2. Well, who doesn't like "Rainy Night in Georgia"?

  8. I was -1 in 1988, but I still don't know how to play Showdown. When this set was in it's glory days, I was still messing around with Wizard's Pokemon offerings. I realize this is probably just making the passage of time seem even more real, sorry about that! On the bright side, ELO will forever endure as one of the most interesting rock bands of the 20th century.

  9. Vintage music and vintage cards -- I love these posts!

    But did I just call cards from the early 2000s "vintage?" Yikes!

    I graduated from college in 1990, and I often feel the same way you do, Night Owl. All of the students I teach were born after the turn of the millennium. To put that into perspective, when you and I were in high school, a teacher who was the same age as we are now would have finished college in the mid-1950s.

  10. What about Stratomatic? Its been around for 57 years!

  11. I hope you and Tris Speaker can one day find peace with one another. I wouldn't hold my breath for an apology from him though.

  12. Random fact - my brother-in-law lived on the same residence hall floor as the "Boom Goes The Dynamite" guy at Ball State.

  13. MLB Showdown was actually the first box/blaster of cards I ever purchased (or well, had my Grandma purchase for me). I found the gameplay inferior to APBA, but I remember the Beckett back in 2000 or 2001 had the cards priced higher than most other base cards, I assume due to their popularity right when they came out.

    In fact, I think I still have the 20-sided die around somewhere.

  14. These are nice looking cards as trading cards go, but the gameplay was always distracting to me so I never bought more than a pack or two. It is crazy how quickly time and trends go by. My father in law used to say that he didn't understand certain things about current culture. I felt the same way-and I was half his age.

    What is Infinity War? Is it a movie? A video game? Or the most concise way to describe social media?

  15. My wife had moved the Christmas wrapping paper to another room without telling me. All I could find was the stuff we had wrapped my niece's birthday present in. So your Dodgers and her doll clothes were similarly-encased.

    My favorite set was the 2004 ones - I thought the cards looked the best with the large, color photos. The printing on the 2005 set seemed to be of lower-quality. Looking forward to more card companies using the rounded-corner chance for corner dings if there are no corners!

    All the strategy cards should have a tiny "'03", "'04", "'05" at the bottom to help you sort them by year.

    Glad they arrived safely and found a good home.

  16. I missed the boat completely the first time around... but when I returned back to the hobby in 2008... I was intrigued. I had no desire to learn how to play the game. I've just always liked things that were different.

    As for Alexa... she's not in my house either. But I gotta admit, I've saw Infinity War awhile back...and just watched it again two nights ago on Netflix. Then again... I'm into all of those geeky things like Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel Universe, and oh yeah... baseball cards :)

  17. For me, Showdown cards are kind of like 21st century Mother's Cookies cards. Both are appealing, have rounded corners, are fairly exotic and, on the rare occasion where I run into them in a dime box, I pretty much buy all of them regardless of player or team just because I never know when I'll run into them again.

    Oh, and I also love the deep checklists.