Sport on the Internet: Pitch in for stats on the bats

As the baseball season reaches its climax and heads toward the World Series, which starts next Saturday, October 18, I thought it would be interesting to see how the Internet covers America's game.

I know I should like it because of its similarity to cricket and its passion for statistics, but somehow I can't get started. But looking at the annual results, I know cricketers have it easy. A successful baseball team will play more than 170 games in a season lasting seven months from April to October. That even includes playing double-headers, two games on the same day.

Currently the play-offs, to decide which teams contest the World Series, have just started with the American League play-offs between the Baltimore Orioles and the Cleveland Indians and the National League play-offs between the Atlanta Braves, last season's runners-up, and the Florida Marlins.

The Fastball web site (http://www.fastball .com/) has all the up-to-date news on the play-offs with links to individual pages for the teams. It also includes sections on statistics with archives going back two years, news, gossip, virtual baseball games and fantasy results. There is also an interesting piece on the average salary, which for the past six years has been over $1m (pounds 625,000).

The Baseball Server (http://www.sportserver.com/SportServer/baseball/) covers baseball worldwide as well as the expected Major League part. It has a better coverage of the play-offs with action photos plus a page of odds. CBS Sportsline (http:// cbs.sportsline.com/index.html) has as its main feature a play-by play breakdown for each day.

Following the weather connection with last week's piece on the Whitbread, you can also surprisingly link to Hurricane Central (http://www.storm97.com/) with latest news on Pauline, Fabian and El Nino.

ADDRESSES

Fastball

http://www.fastball.com/

Baseball server

http://www.sportserver.com/SportServer/baseball/

CBS Sportsline

http://cbs.sportsline.com/ index.html

ESPN Sportszone

http://espn.sportszone.com/ mlb/

Official Baseball site

http://www.majorleague baseball.com/

USA Today

http://www.usatoday.com/ sports/mlb.htm

The Sporting News

http://www.sporting news.com/baseball/

Hurricane Central

http://www.storm97.com/

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