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 fully operational."