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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dime Box Kryptonite #3 - Showdown Shinies

My Top 20 Card Show finds post #13 has gotten ridiculous, so here's some more filler for you all while I finish it up. I'll try to have it done by tomorrow so you can waste a portion of your Friday morning on it.

For now, here's another thing that I absolutely cannot pass up when perusing a cheapo box. My first two posts on my utter weakness in the face of cards probably rang true to many of you. There are lots of collectors out there who like the Retro. Many people love the minis. Hardly ANYONE will identify with this post. For I am completely incapable of passing up...


Over/Under on readers who know what the hell this stuff is is around 30%. I'll take the under. In 2000, Wizards of the Coast tried to take their wildly successful CCG concept and leap into the baseball card market. This had been done a couple of times before with the most spectacular flop coming from 1995 Donruss Top of the Order. At that time WotC was the CCG King and they thought they could storm into the market with a collectable baseball card game. Nope. They promoted the hell out of it and probably sold a lot in 2000, but each year the sales dwindled and it was dead pretty quick.

This Cal Ripken Jr. foil shiny card (and it is shiny, the scan doesn't do justice) if from the first set in 2000. Note the Edition 1 stamp at the bottom corner. This is to show that this is a card from the initial printing and thus, will eventually be rare when they have to reprint zillions of Unlimited editions of this card due to popular demand. This was a common trick in CCG sets to get you do buy cards as quickly as possible at the beginning of the release instead of waiting 6 months when the packs were all in the clearance bin because the new series (Limited Edition!) came out. While Limited Edition is always music to collectors' ears, this sucker is a holographic foil short print card inserted something like 1:27 cards. That's right, the odds were listed by the card, not by the pack. When I snagged this card from the dime box, I showed it to Chris Harris. "Hey! A foil Showdown card of Cal Ripken Jr.!" His response: "That and 50 cents gets you a cup of coffee." That's preposterous! I dare you to find a cup of coffee under a buck nowadays. Double DOG dare you.

While a product that combines baseball cards and a collectible card game is a good idea in theory, in practice it will almost always fail. This is why: People who collect baseball cards usually don't care a whit about playing games with the cards. People who play CCGs generally don't give a crap about sports. Now, there is a very small sliver on the Venn diagram of those two groups of people who like both, but it's not enough to support a product. And even the ones who get into it ultimately end up disappointed. The card collectors are frustrated because all the really good players in the set are short printed foils like this one. Old School Strat-o-Matic and APBA gamers are peeved because it's impossible to put together teams and leagues when a quarter of the cards are still missing after ripping two boxes. Hardcore CCGers just want to be able to have Pedro Martinez shoot a Fire Blast at Barry Bonds. Actually, I want that too.

Failed product or not, if I see one of these forgotten and unloved Showdown cards alone in the wild I feel compelled to take it home and have it join its friends in an official 2000 Showdown collector box with Chipper Jones on the front. And how can you pass up a shiny Cal! It's not possible. You have to buy the shiny Cal. It's the right thing to do.

The shiny Freddy Garcia... I ... I can't rationalize that.

Oh, if you want to actually play the bloody came it goes something like this:

Take the batter's On base number and add it to the pitcher's Control number.
Roll a 20 sited die.
If the result it lower than or equal to the sum, use the pitcher's card. If it's higher, use the batter's card.
Roll a 20 sited die again.
Look at the chart on the card to determine the result.
First roll is an 8. That means you look at the pitcher's card.
Second roll is a 16. That means Cal flew out.
Cal demands a rematch.
This time he rolls an 18, so you look at Cal's card this time.
Second roll is 16 again. Double for Cal!

Then there are defensive bonuses, and speed ratings and innings pitched counts and team building points and a bunch of Strategy cards which make things really really complicated. Just play Strat-o-Matic.

Oh, look. Speak of the Devil...


Dennis said...

1. I have that exact Ripken, and while the game itself is stupid, those foils look great. By the way, Beckett says $20 on that, FWIW.
2. I have a couple other 1st Edition foils I don't care about--Jason Kendall and Brian Giles. Want 'em? They're yours as a thanks for the Killebrew you sent me a while back if you're interested.

SpastikMooss said...

My little brother was 7 when this set came out. He bought pack after pack and we played this ALL THE TIME. I'd bring the cards back to trade since I'm sure we're the only ones to have a complete set of that nonsense. Sadly they're pretty beaten up since we shuffled them like mad.

Terrific game.

BA Benny said...

I am in the group that does know about these. My so (now almost 18) played this game a lot back when it was hot 10 years ago. I have a few of the foil cards that didn't get tossed when he grew out of the game and I even have one first edition. I wish I still had all the ones he had because I recall some great players and he had a bunch of the shiny's.

SpastikMooss said...

We had an old timer (I think Ralph Kiner) and my other younger brother drafted him with the first pick because he had amazing stats. So many fights over how cheap it was to have Kiner on his team while I had to start guys like Bobby Crosby since I picked last.

night owl said...

I don't care a wit about those cards. I just wanted to say I just drove past a McDonald's that advertised that their coffee was still just 60 cents.

So, you've been double dog dared.

And don't tell me "McDonald's coffee isn't coffee." I think all coffee is wretched, so that means nothing to me.

Anonymous said...

I think you're on to something with your idea about making Pedro shoot a fire blast at Barry.

Who says a baseball card game should try to resemble baseball. :)

(By the way, I did know about these. I don't share your compulsion to pick up the shinies, but I will always buy a Mets card from the set unless I have a wantlist telling me that I already have it.)

Nachos Grande said...

I had these, and I have a box full of Sports Clix too. Yeah, the over-under on finding people who know about those is probably 15%. I should really get around to doing a post (or twelve) on those.

As for the game, I bought a box full of that stuff on the cheap once - my youngest brother and I played it once or twice and then never touched the cards again.

dayf said...



deal said...

After they introduced interleague play I went to see the Phils Play the Bosox at Fenway Park. The give away item for the Sat game was a pack of Showdown cards. In some small way this probably helped reintroduce me to baseball cards.

PS I think Randy Wolf may have beaten Pedro Martinez that day also.

madding said...

I have a strange fascination with MLB Showdown that for some reason does not carryover to any other game-infused baseball card set. I always enjoy getting the Showdown packs in repack boxes. Of course, I keep trying to avoid those horrible things...

dodgercards said...

I quit playing Magic and collecting baseball cards so I could devote six years to this game. I have completed every set. These days, I work on getting the sets signed.