Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 21, 2003
BASEBALL: Baseball Websites
One of my pet peeves is the status of major baseball websites (the news sites, not the commentary/analysis sites). Maybe I just go to the wrong sites -- I tend to frequent ESPN's MLB page, CBSSportsline, and sometimes CNNSI's baseball page or USAToday's. A couple of common complaints:
1. Popup ads.
I'm not someone who will boycott sites with popups, but a battery of popups makes it much less likely that I'll make a site a daily read, or drop by there to pick up a quick piece of information. Even for active players, I much prefer to get stats (other than current-year stats) from Baseball-Reference.com, which loads quickly, searches easily and lacks popups.
2. No Standings on the Front Page
Standings are the lifeblood of Major League Baseball, even moreso than box scores. There's no reason you shouldn't see a sidebar on the front page with the divisional and Wild Card standings. (The latter is particularly important, yet also neglected by many newspapers, even though (1) it impacts many more teams' playoff chances and (2) the wild card race is often both close and complicated, so the average fan may not have the standings straight in his head). CBSSPortsline even makes room for its "power rankings" on the front page, but no standings.
3. Difficulty Searching for Stats
Again, both baseball-reference.com and some of the rotisserie-themed sites beat the major operators here; on ESPN.com, you have to click through several pages to get to where you can pull up an individual player's stats, whereas BR.com lets you run a name search from the front page. Advantage: Sean Forman.
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Both ESPN and CNNSI have moved in the direction of making the front page look more like a magazine cover, with a big headline and picture. But a webpage should open with the table of contents, not the cover, with lots of links to the information you want. I could go on -- maybe some other day I'll critique the actual stat pages, which each have their pluses and minuses -- but the main point here is that baseball websites simply don't seem to be designed with the people who use them in mind. That's a shame.