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MLB showdown: Baseball Card Game

MLB Showdown is a baseball card board game from the early 2000s. I played it a ton as a kid, and in this Corona virus baseball free time, it's time to find new outlets to feed the need for baseball.

MLB Showdown is a card game I got into when I was in middle school. It's a cross between fantasy baseball, baseball card collecting, and a board game, minus the board and played with baseball cards. You collect cards, assemble a team, and play games. Each player card has outcomes on it that reflect their real life stats from their real baseball season. You have a 20 sided die that determines results, which essentially puts you in the manager's spot in a game.

The game is pretty simple. You roll the die and add it to the pitcher's control. If that number is higher than the batter's on base, then it's pitcher advantage. You roll the die again and the result of the at bat comes off the pitchers card. If the roll+control is tied or worse than the batter's on base, then you roll again but instead get the result off the batter's card. Think of it like the pitcher or hitter getting ahead in the count. There is a "pitch," and then a "swing."

You then go through an play a "real" baseball game. There's other stats on the cards like defense, (which comes into play on stolen base attempts, double play tries, and runners trying to take extra bases on hits), or speed, (which comes into play when you want that player to steal a bag). Pitchers can pitch a certain amount of innings before their control starts to decline. There are also strategy cards, which you can use to tip the scales of fate.

As the game is comprised of baseball cards, you can buy packs. You collect them, trade them, etc. like normal baseball cards, as well as a chance of getting rare cards. The more cards you have, the bigger pool of players you can choose from to assemble your ultimate team.

The game was produced by Wizards of the Coast, and unfortunately, only from years 2000-2005. I got really into it from 2000-2001. I collected a ton of cards, assembled teams, and even had a league running for a little bit. I then put the cards into storage for safekeeping and... lost most of them.

For Valentine's Day this year, I got the wife and I a cabin in Lake Geneva, WI. I picked up the starter set from Amazon and we played a couple of games while we were there. It was fun, but it gets better with more cards, so I started collecting again. I went up into the attic to look for my old cards... and found 20 of them (out of hundreds). Time to start dipping into the old saving account. UPDATE: I FOUND MORE!!!

MLB Showdown was great because it taught me a lot about math and baseball statistics. A 1/20 roll is a 5% chance, so you can use that figure to calculate a player's chance of hitting a certain result at any given time. It also helped me discover WAR before there was WAR, when trying to balance a players on base number with their home run power, along with their speed, and so on. You could just play the game, but you could also take it up a few notches and really analyze player's statistics to assemble the ultimate team.

It also helped me understand what it's like to manage a baseball team. Sometimes you'd get your 3 best players up against a team's worst pitcher, and he'd strike out the side. Just the luck of the roll, much like real baseball. You try to put players in the position to succeed, but it doesn't just automatically happen. It's all trends and chances.

If you are interested, please feel free to hit me up for more info. Otherwise, enjoy this super long video of MLB Showdown 2000!

I also found a couple projects and resources with regards to making the game up to date:


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