In January 2000, Major League Baseball's 30 owners voted
unanimously in favor of radical realignment, not of the sport's
divisions--who would deny the Jays and Rays their fierce American
League East rivalry?--but of its websites, centralizing the 30
team sites under the direction of mlb.com. "The owners voted to
centralize to minimize costs and optimize revenue," says Bob
Bowman, CEO of MLB Advance Media, which is overseeing the
redesign. "Last year mlb.com drew three million unique users per
month. We expect to double that number this year."
Speaking of doubles, mlb.com, which was launched in 1998, has
never been the go-to site for stats geeks, who have preferred the
likes of fastball.com (which recently folded) and statsinc.com.
That could change after mlb.com's imminent numbers upgrade.
Example: "When Derek Jeter [above] is at bat in the seventh
inning at Yankee Stadium versus Pedro Martinez, you'll be able to
call up a history of Jeter's at bats versus Martinez, or specify
the situation further, limiting it to his late-inning at bats
against Martinez or his at bats against him at Yankee Stadium,"
says Bowman. "We'll be updating current league leaders as games
are in progress, too."
Though teams will operate their websites, many are using the
uniform design, which is heavy on boxes and splashy color photos,
created by MLB Advance Media. (As of Sunday, 19 teams had
converted to the new format.) "We're still putting together our
history link," says Bowman, "but by Opening Day, we hope to be
COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON