Opening Day can't get here soon enough.
So we decided to get an early start on the 2018 season. Real early. Like 17 years too early.
We busted out some old MLB Showdown cards from 2001 and had a Crosstown clash Friday afternoon at NBC Sports Chicago headquarters.
The Cubs, the home team despite our American League rules, sent out this starting lineup:
1. Eric Young, 2B
2. Bill Mueller, 3B
3. Mark Grace, 1B
4. Sammy Sosa, RF
5. Corey Patterson, CF
6. Rondell White, LF
7. Ricky Gutierrez, SS
8. Todd Hundley, DH
9. Joe Girardi, C
Kerry Wood, P
The White Sox, meanwhile, countered with this stacked lineup:
1. Jose Valentin, SS
2. Ray Durham, 2B
3. Frank Thomas, DH
4. Magglio Ordonez, RF
5. Charles Johnson, C
6. Paul Konerko, 1B
7. Carlos Lee, LF
8. Chris Singleton, CF
9. Joe Crede, 3B
James Baldwin, P
For the uninitiated, MLB Showdown's rules are pretty simple. Each pitcher has a "control" number, and each batter has an "on-base" number. In every at-bat, the pitcher rolls the 20-sided die, adds his control number to the roll, and if that total is higher than the on-base number of the opposing batter, the pitcher's outcome chart is used. If it's lower, the batter's outcome chart is used. The batter then rolls and the outcome is determined.
So for example, in the below matchup, Jon Lieber rolled an 11, giving him the advantage over Royce Clayton (3+11=14, which is greater than 7). Clayton then rolled a nine, grounding out. And so that goes for nine innings.
On to the Crosstown Showdown showdown!
The White Sox got on the board early and often, scoring off Wood in the first with back-to-back RBI doubles by Thomas and Ordonez. Wood appeared rattled.
Huge 1st thanks to RBI doubles by Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez. Slaughter rule may come into play— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) March 23, 2018
The Cubs, despite matching intensity, could not find the same success against Baldwin.
The White Sox kept up the attack on Wood, pounding him for three more runs in the top of the second. Crede had the game's biggest moment, smacking a two-run homer that had the South Siders celebrating and the North Siders reeling.
Two-run bomb from Crede... MERCY! pic.twitter.com/KEp1OECS15— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) March 23, 2018
A sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 5-0.
Wood settled in nicely after the initial damage and posted four consecutive scoreless frames after the three-run second.
The Cubs' lineup had plenty of its own pop and put it on display when Patterson ended Baldwin's shutout attempt with a solo homer that probably went all the way to Sheffield. (He rolled a 20.)
After all those homers, the game turned into a pitcher's duel from there, with nothing but zeroes on the hand/marker-operated scoreboard.
Wood and Baldwin both finished up their days in strong fashion. Baldwin allowed one run in six, Wood threw four scoreless after a rough couple two innings to start.
5-1 lead. Absolute GUTSY performance from James Baldwin. Bobby Howry comes in to try and keep the lead safe.— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) March 23, 2018
After the starters finally ran out of card-mandated gas, the bullpens took over. The Cubs went with Felix Heredia to start the seventh, an interesting choice.
Bob Howry had a shutout seventh inning for the White Sox.
Some more pitching-change drama on the North Side. The fans were hoping for Tom "Flash" Gordon. The skipper went with Todd Van Poppel.
Who should @TonyAndracki23 go to next, after Felix Heredia?— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) March 23, 2018
The Cubs staged one more late push, with Grace homering in the bottom of the eighth off Kelly Wunsch.
Though the White Sox bats went to sleep after the second inning, the lead was big enough for Keith Foulke to close things out. He put two batters on with two outs, but he got Girardi swinging to give the South Siders the win.
This one hurts. Final out. Keith Foulke vs. Joe Girardi... pic.twitter.com/OedSulIURx— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) March 23, 2018
And so there you have it! A nice dose of nostalgia as Chicago prepares for baseball season.