Are These Sports Sites Turkeys or Gifts?
By DAVID SWEET
The turkey is finally digested. Memories of Uncle Frank's
Thanksgiving political rant -- his rage intensifying when he spilled
sweet potatoes on his lap -- are fading.
Christmas beckons, but avoid that lengthy shopping list for now.
It's time to enjoy Hits and Misses.
League Baseball's Web
site for educating voters. Both Al Gore and George W. Bush answered
a host of baseball questions-- for instance, whether Joe
DiMaggio or Ted Williams was the better ballplayer.
Asked how to bridge the revenue gap between big- and small-market
clubs, Mr. Gore, who touted the size of his 191-page economic plan
during the campaign, offered an 85-word answer. Mr. Bush simply
wrote, "More revenue sharing."
The candidates, whose answers first appeared in the official
World Series magazine, found common ground in only one area: both
agreed throwing out a player at home plate would be the most
exciting finish to a World Series game. They were not asked whether
dimpled All-Star votes should be tabulated.
MISS: NBCOlympics.com for being
frozen in time. Though the Sydney Games were completed two months
ago, the site, a venture of NBC and Quokka
Sports Inc., maintains a large picture of Marion Jones and aging
Summer Olympic coverage.
Web surfers fascinated by old swimming highlights will find a
home here. But fans of Olympic ice hockey and bobsledding must
venture to the 2002 Winter Games official site, http://www.saltlake2002.com/
(also run by Quokka).
NBC executive Kevin Monaghan says Salt Lake content will begin
flowing in January.
"They [NBC/Quokka Ventures staffers] took a well-deserved
post-Sydney break and are currently scrutinizing the content,
production and sales plans for both NBCOlympics.com and
SaltLake2002.com," he notes.
Writes Jupiter Research analyst Robert Hertzberg: "In not
extending the productive life of NBCOlympics.com [immediately
following the Games], NBC violated a tenet that its news division
knows well -- milk a programming asset for all it's worth."
Speaking of assets, Quokka stock continued its grim slide
Tuesday, dropping 12% to $1.38 in 4 p.m. trading on Nasdaq and
hitting a 52-week intraday low.
HIT: Britannica.com for explaining
Dennis Miller. Since the Monday Night Football announcer's comments
usually soar over Joe Sixpack's head, the site has created "The
Annotated Dennis Miller" to explain his obscure references
Regarding the ease of being a St. Louis Ram punter, Mr. Miller
chimed, "That's like playing triangle with K.C. and the Sunshine
Band." Even Britannica.com was baffled, invoking TV's Tracy
Partridge in trying to explain the above Millerism.
HIT: A little-known site for listing top baseball heckles.
"I've seen better swings on a porch!" and "You couldn't drive home
Miss Daisy!" are a few of the wittier comments posted at http://www.heckledepot.com/.
Though some rants are weak enough to make one cringe ("I've seen
snakes with better hands!"), big-league insults can be
When Chicago Cub fans wore T-shirts showing Chicago White Sox
slugger Frank "Big Hurt" Thomas wearing a skirt ("Big Skirt") to
games, the veteran admitted, "This is getting on my nerves." By the
time the series was over, though, Mr. Thomas had been motivated
sufficiently to extend his hitting streak to 19 games.
MISS: The Web site of the Los Angeles Times for counting
troubles. Knowing the popularity of the USC-UCLA
rivalry, the sports section posted the scores and stories from
football games during the 1990s. For the 1992 link, the score read
UCLA 38, USC 27. After clicking on it, a new score appeared above
the headline: UCLA 31, USC 23. Only below the headline did the
proper score finally emerge: UCLA 38, USC 37.
HIT: ESPN.com for running SportsCenter ads. These short
pieces, which are shown on the Web even before they debut on
television, are cult favorites. Unlike the SportsCenter show itself,
no viewer knows when TV ads are running. Compiling them in one spot
lets fans watch them at their leisure and provides an inexpensive
way to boost SportsCenter.
HIT:NBA.com for telling it like it
is. League sites are notoriously skittish about reporting bad news.
But on Monday, an eye-catching red headline distinguished itself
among the blue ones atop the National Basketball Association's home
page: "Sonics Fire Westphal."
Granted, the story -- focusing on interim coach Nate "Mr. Sonic"
McMillan -- read like a press release, but the fact that NBA.com
even drew attention to a firing is news in itself.
HIT: The Sporting News Online for its weekly National
Football League matchups. Posted by Tuesday evening, the
breakdowns include why to watch, key individual matchups and keys
for success. Want a quick look at who should win the
Minnesota-Detroit game? The site provides a checklist showing which
team is better at quarterback, in the secondary and other spots.
Rabid fantasy players can check "Fantasy Flash" for guidance.
MISS: David Sweet of WSJ.com for an error in the Nov.
22 columnon the XFL. Contrary to the claim that none of the four
major U.S. sport league sites sell tickets, one can buy seats for
National Basketball Association games through NBA.com.
Write to David Sweet at email@example.com