Back in 2000, my dad took me to a card show. Usually I loved to go to card shows with him because he'd show me all the great old time players, former Tribe players and how bad they were, or just buy boxes of cheap wax and break them open with me when we got home.
However, my interest in sports was dwindling. I still played them all the time, attended Tribe games all the time, and even opened some packs here and there, but the main priority I had at this show was simple:
I was crazy for those stupid things. Even though I was at a show where millions of cards were, I wanted to collect and "battle" with cards of animals that looked like they just came from the Chernobyl plant. My dad would (I think) reluctantly drive me to Toys'R'Us every Wednesday so I could play in the league and get promo cards.
One Wednesday, everything changed when I walked into a game called "MLB Showdown". It was a new card game made by the same people who make Pokemon (Wizards Of The Coast). I love baseball, so I picked up a starter set and 3 packs.
My Pokemon adventure was done the moment I got home. I cracked open the starter, and my dad was interested to see what I bought. The first pack gave me my first foil, Kenny Lofton. My father and I played a few games that night, and I decided I was going to see if some of my friends wanted to convert from Pokemon to MLB Showdown.
Over the course of the six years that Wizards made Showdown, I never stopped collecting, and now have nearly 15,000 cards. Most of the cards have little to no value and couldn't be given away, but I like them because it reminds me of all the time I spent late summer nights watching a late MLB Game or Baseball Tonight while constructing decks and deciding between putting in Todd Van Poppel or Scott Sauerbeck. In the end both of those players were in my bullpen.
In 2006, Wizards stopped making the game due to lack of interest and the fact that the MLBPA wanted way more money for a new contract with Wizards.
I (along with Jim) still buy MLB Showdown, but it's getting much harder now because no place carries a product that is 3 years out or print coupled with the fact that it really didn't sell all too well.
I like to thank MLB Showdown for getting me back into baseball cards. Had I not found those cards and bought them, I'd probably be playing World of Warcraft in my parent's basement eating Dorito's and 3 day old Taco Bell. At least to me, I'd much rather own 15 Darren Oliver cards as opposed to playing World of Warcraft.