Now that the Winter Olympics are behind us, baseball fans (and especially fantasy baseball fans) will soon begin checking in on their favorite Major League Baseball teams and players to see how they're coming along in Florida and Arizona.
With the Internet, and in particular, blogosphere monopolizing practically ever phase of our daily reading habits, I decided to venture deep into the recesses of the Web, hoping to come up with some of the best baseball blogs available from coast-to-coast.
Here is what I was able to find.
One of the most popular baseball blogs is mlbtraderumors.com, a site not affiliated with Major League Baseball, but rather maintained by Tim Dierkes, a die-hard Cubs' fan and resident of Roselle, Illinois.
Trade Rumors (more or less aggregated news) links to noteworthy and timely baseball news from a variety of leading U.S. newspapers, archives trade rumors by individual teams, informs readers of contract negotiations and even lets fans know what beat writers, like Joel Sherman of the N.Y. Post are tweeting about.
Another must read baseball blog is Joe Posnanski, a Cleveland native and senior writer at Sports Illustrated, who regularly posts interesting notes (not all baseball related), typically dealing with some obscure footnotes that he didn't have room to fit into his regular SI column. Posnanski, for instance, shares with readers meeting legendary NFL broadcaster Al Michaels for the first time, who reveals to Posnanski his favorite all-time baseball game, along with his life long love affair with baseball, beginning at an early age, growing up in Brooklyn in a neighborhood just around the corner from Ebbett's Field.
Major League Baseball maintains blogs by all their beat writers, which is regularly updated with spring training news and which players are fighting for positions, such as word that Mike Lowell is spending a lot of time at first base, presumably to increase his market value.
MLB also features MSNBC Keith Olbermann's reflections on baseball; that is, when the liberal talking head isn't exchanging blows with the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
If you took a random survey with baseball fans on a``must read blog, ESPN's Buster Olney's would more than likely top the list. Olney, a senior writer for ESPN Magazine, who has been covering baseball since 1989, regularly maintains up-to-date baseball news; he seems particularly plugged into trade rumors and gives readers insight on what 's taking place at spring training with direct quotes from managers and players.
NOTE: Unfortunately, Olney's blog is so popular; users will have to pass through a toll booth on ESPN's Website, which costs $3.33 a month, and includes a one-year subscription to ESPN, the magazine.
ESPN additionally maintains a wide collection of spring training blogs by staff writers, who file daily updates on individual teams from Florida and Arizona.
Also at ESPN is the ``SweetSpot Blog Network'' which made its debut during the 2009 baseball playoffs with posts from Rob Neyer, a senior writer at ESPN.com , along with a team of other writers who report the latest MLB news. Right now, ``SweetSpot'' is limited to six teams (accessible through a drop-down menu): the Red Sox, Dodgers, Twins, Yankees, Phillies, and Cardinals; but an ESPN spokesperson tells me there are plans to expand their coverage.
Yahoo takes great pride with its ``Big League Stew, which is ranked the 5th best blog by Ballhype.com, In addition to timely player and team news from spring training, ``Big League Stew'' regularly posts interesting items about the business of baseball, such as a post on Friday, which reported MLB grossed a record $6.6 billion in 2009, a rare success story during the Great Recession.
NBC Sports and Rotoworld have joined forces with ``Hardball Talk'', a wildly popular blog that used to be known as ``Circling the Bases'' before being renamed. The blog is maintained by Craig Calcaterra, a lawyer and former District Attorney from Columbus, Ohio, who said goodbye to the dusty legal briefs to write full-time for NBC from the comfort of his home. Nice work if you can get it.
Fox Sports, meanwhile, showcases its ``Baseball Buzz'' blog, which a Fox spokesperson said became an instant hit when it launched during the free agency period.
And in a new feature, Fox Sports rolls out ``GM Corner" with Jim Bowden who will conduct interviews with some of baseball's top brass on issues they confront every day, like the first installment, which deals with arbitration cases.
Popular FS writers Ken Rosenthal and John Paul Morosi are back providing expert analysis and updates from both the Junior and Senior circuits.
Another popular baseball blog making noise on the Web, is CBS Sports' Scott Miller's ``Bull Pennings'' His signature ``Likes and Dislikes'' at the end of each post is a nice touch, as is his``Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day''
And for those statistical junkies and fantasy baseball participants, you might be interested to know that CBS Sports has teamed with Tableau Software (a leading provider of fast analytics and data visualization software) where fantasy baseball players on CBSSports.com will have access to a variety of interactive data visualizations, reports and analytics around fantasy baseball, making it possible to scrutinize numbers closer than ever before.
If you're preparing for fantasy baseball, you won't want to miss John Sucich's column, who provides spring training roundups, players to watch, and division by division analysis and notes.
Finally, curtain calls for the most innovative name for a blog, belongs to Peter Schmuck's ``The Schmuck Stops Here'' from The Baltimore Sun, who provides readers with short bite size, but always informative, slices of information on professional sports in Baltimore, including the Orioles.
After spending the last couple days searching for the best baseball blogs on the Web and getting recommendations from other experts, I can now see why the newspaper industry is struggling the way that it is.
How can print newspapers possibly compete with this high-speed analysis, team updates at the blink of an eye, along with all these other online stastical bells and whistles found on so many Websites?
It didn't seem all that long ago when I used to have to call a 1-800 number for baseball updates, stay glued to the bottom of my television screen for ticker updates on ESPN, or wait for the morning newspaper, hoping it got the West Coast and extra-inning games in on time.\
However much the Internet has changed our daily newspaper habits, I still have too much respect for so many seasoned baseball writers to give up on them, even with the glut of information available on the Web.
In particular, I read with great regularity, Paul Hoynes and Terry Pluto from The Plain Dealer in Cleveland; Dan Shaughnessy and Bob Ryan from the Boston Globe; Yankees and Mets coverage from The New York Times , The N.Y. Daily News; from the N.Y. Post, Joel Sherman's ``Hardball'' and Mike Vaccaro's ``Vac's Whacks''
For those living in the Northeast and enduring this miserably cold snow-filled winter, remember Opening Day is only 35 days away; maybe just the thought of it might warm your heart and lift your spirits.
Follow Bill Lucey on Twitter: www.twitter.com/wplucey