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Site Speed

Posted by Sean Forman on August 19, 2011

I try to be very careful with how the site's code is structured, so that the pages will load and render as blazingly fast a possible. Users like it and it can have a direct impact on our bottom line.

One item that has been out of my control is the ad code we include on the pages. Some of these ads load 5-15 additional files and quite frankly some of the ad servers don't seem to have a good idea of what speed means, so the pages hang and we get lots of frustrated e-mails. As well as being frustrated ourselves.

We have just made a significant investment in our infrastructure that should remove this issue from the equation. All ads on B-R and eventually all SR sites now load in the background and will not block the page from loading. This went into effect sitewide last night, and at least as I've been using the site then and this morning I haven't seen any hangs. Hopefully this will solve this matter and we can all get back to looking at stats rather than waiting for things to load.

One other complaint we get is ads with audio. We have repeatedly asked not to serve these and report these to our ad provider as soon as we notice them. The way ads work is we have someone we deal with and then they are dealing with 5+ large networks themselves and selling their own ads. The 5+ large networks appear to have some issues filtering things on there end. I know this is passing the buck, but that is how it happens. I've found that the mute button generally stays muted from page to page, but your mileage may vary. We'll continue to work on this.

56 Responses to “Site Speed”

  1. anon Says:

    Thanks for everyone's hard work on this site. I greatly value quickly loading sites (Brian Wilson stare at you, ESPN), and this one has always been fast for me.

  2. John Autin Says:

    "For this relief, much thanks."

    The ad loads hadn't been a big issue on my PC at work, but on my laptop at home the delays had gotten so irksome that some nights I'd just give up and read a book. [Egad!] I'm grateful that you're trying to address it and hope to have it licked.

  3. Evan Says:

    Your efforts to eliminate the automatic audio ads is greatly appreciated as they are very intrusive and I'm sure I'm not the only one who often ends up closing the whole page rather than searching for the pane that is causing the problem.

    Overall I don't think the level of advertising on B-R (I rarely frequent the other S-R sites) is bad at all, especially considering that the web site itself is the primary business (as opposed to existing to support an alternate business). One of the issues I have with MLB's site is that there is a constant barrage of advertising, much of which is designed to delay access to content. Their video clips are especially bad as they will usually require you to watch the same 15-30 second ad over and over again each time you switch from one video clip highlight to another - this is bad enough on 2 minutes of game recap, but is quite outrageous for videos showing a 15-20 second highlight of one play.

    Thanks again for not only making the information on your sites available to the public, but for doing so with a business model that values how the user experiences the site.

  4. mike Says:

    If you're using Chrome, has a pretty useful extension that'll tell you which tab is making noise (since I also frequently have the problem of loading a bunch of pages in tabs & then trying to figure out which one is blasting Lady Gaga at me).

  5. nightfly Says:

    Ironically, this page hung for me when I first tried to open it.

    And frankly, if that's my biggest problem in life, then I'm way out in front. (It certainly wouldn't be a save situation.) Thanks for making this site so wonderful - and for providing so much of it for free.

  6. John Says:

    Yeah, add my name to the chorus: you've done a fantastic job with the site's loading speed, and it actually did make a difference in driving me to this site, as opposed to some others. (That was back when I went to any other stat sites, for stats I knew I could find on bbref. Those days are behind me.)

    As a web developer myself, I get angrier at the advertising companies than I do at the site, when it causes problems. Doubly so here, because it's obvious -- without you even mentioning it -- that performance is a (if not the) principal consideration here.

  7. Scott Taylor Says:

    I guess I should be grateful because I never EVER have a problem with this site and I'm browsing here quite often. Thanks for the hard work

  8. Baseball: B-R Improves Site Speed » Stathead » Blog Archive Says:

    [...] B-R Improves Site Speed: A note from B-R’s Sean Forman on how the site will be faster from now on. [...]

  9. John Autin Says:

    I still dream of a "pay for content" option that would let me pay a market price to use the site without ever having to see or hear ads. I've quick-pitched the notion once or twice; perhaps it is currently impractical, or perhaps not enough people have expressed the willingness to pay.
    But it would definitely be worth a chunk of change to me.

  10. Christopher Says:

    I have to agree with Evan. Compared to the extensive time delay on loading MLB's site, I can't honestly say that I had even noticed any delay on this site. Great work!

  11. Devon Young Says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. It's usually not a big deal to me to wait a few seconds, but lately, it's been a whole new ballgame.... I've actually found some of the flash ads would stop the rest of the page from loading (using Chromium & Firefox on Ubuntu), and reloadin the page a dozen times doesn't change it. It was only certain ads causing it. I really HATED that. I mean, just trying to check for something on the Pirates 2009 schedule page shouldn't take me 5-10 minutes.

    So thank you for addressing the problem the ads have been causing.

  12. Tom Epp Says:

    I, too, want to thank you Sean. I have noticed the improved loading speed this morning - though it was never as bad as sites like or

    Now if only you could host a "gameday' / 'gamecast' equivalent without the annoying talkie ads...

  13. mosc Says:

    the site loading issues were especially bad for me. My work blocks some of the add sites which means I often had to refresh pages before they'd load. You fixed that now, thank you.

    I want to thank you for posting this where we can discuss it as well and voice our gratitude for this website and the direction you take it. Keep up the good work!

  14. Sean Forman Says:


    Mosc, what happens now. The ads just don't load? That's fine. I just wasn't aware that companies were doing that.

  15. KB Says:

    Wow, it does seem to be loading faster. Just when I thought BR couldn't get any better, it did. Thanks.

  16. Nash Bruce Says:

    I love 'behind-the-scenes' info. Nice.
    @2: surprised to see that you still have a job, I thought that this was it now ;-p
    Thanks all.

  17. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    This is GREAT! Thanks to the non-interuptions, this site loads fast, instead of half-fast.

    {Say this quickly to get the meaning of my message}.

  18. Nash Bruce Says:

    going off-topic here, but a couple of lines in this article:

    'Rickett said the "culture of accountability" in the organization led to the decision and they need "different perspectives." '

    'As for what qualities he will seek in the new GM, Ricketts listed player-development skills and a strong baseball analytical background. Hendry was not a proponent of sabermetrics.'

    (the times, they are a-changin'..........),0,5365962.story

  19. Timothy P. Says:

    Even though I often take SABRmeters to task, and partake in vicious HoF arguments, and enjoy ethnic jokes, an occasionally calling people names, and often have to defend myself from attacks on my manliness which is silly since I'm the very essence of manliness and being macho, and even though I often have to defend myself from the anti-feline cabal, and get teased about my lack of education, and the fact I used to go to Boys Town, I do appreciate a fast loading website.

  20. Timothy P. Says:

    The Cubs fire Jim Hendry! And you know why? The treatment of Carlos Zambrano. Big Z got mad and cleaned out his locker, so what? That's baseball! Hendry is a fat idiot and was trying to do to Zambrano what the Yankees did to Jorge Posada earlier this year.

  21. Cheese Says:

    I offer this only to help people still having issues with loading, etc. (Don't use if you experience no loading issues, since sites like these rely on the occasional accidental ad click 😉 )

    AdBlock for Chrome.

  22. John Autin Says:

    @19 / @20, Timothy -- Even though your first post was hilarious, your second was a side-splitter.

    I'll go out on a limb and guess that Hendry's suspension of Zambrano headed the short list of what management liked about his performance -- but that giving Big Z that fat contract in 2007 (even as he was in the process of leading the league in walks for the 2nd straight year and punching out his catcher) was among the Top 3 Reasons Hendry Must Go Now.

  23. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    Advertising is good. Greed, no. Advertising, yes. It is the American Way.\

    I don't mind unexpected audio, unless it has rap or country music. But I do my computer surfing in a public library lobby, and other patrons just don't like computer noise at all, so I firmly second the support for your efforts to reduce if not eliminate the sound track. If my former bosses in radio and TV read this, I will no doubt be removed from their Christmas card lists, but hey, what's life if you don't take a chance one in a while?

    I am blown away on a daily basis by the fact that this website is basically coming from the fan population, not MLB, and even with advertising support, there's gotta be a lot of unpaid "volunteer" time put into it. When they open a Technology Wing at the Baseball Hall of Fame, you guys should be among the first inductees along with the original crew of WGN-TV who set standards for broadcast coverage of baseball, and the guy who invented those old-style flip-up sunglasses, they are so cool.

  24. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    Re: 18, 20, 22.....could the CUBS FIRE HENDRY subject be posted as a separate thread so that debate can continue there?

  25. mosc Says:

    @14 Sean, they basically block the ad. There are other client side ways of doing it too (firefox plugins is probably the most common). Your change let the rest of the site load now.

    It's hard to replicate. The majority of the ads do load.

    Hey, since I've got your undivided attention for a second, I'll offer a suggestion. I like the comments here but I wish they were replaced by a more complete forum solution. That way the forum would be searchable and it would be easier to keep track of discussions in multiple threads. I think you could generate some income off of it by posting your more official blog posts as they are here with comments taken from the forums but only allowing people to add comments who are forum members. Then you could charge for forum membership (more generally done as just forum "premium" membership charges) and use other time tested forum income generation as well.

    I love this site so much, thanks for reading this.

  26. Thomas Says:

    This site remains fantastic. I'm here way more often then I probably should be.

    The idea of a forum of some kind vaguely interests me as well, as there are plenty of times where I've wanted to randomly ask a stats question or mention a random thing I've seen.... but I also understand it's a major undertaking, and I'd rather have the stats remain amazing...

    Whatever, keep up the great work.

  27. Whiz Says:

    I too have been annoyed at the slow loading of ads in the past (and I realized it was the ads, not B-R). Thanks for making your website even more enjoyable than it was before. (I echo Thomas' remark -- I'm here way more than I should be!)

  28. Andrew Says:

    So what is the site's new Speed Score?

  29. Sean Forman Says:

    On Yahoo we have a speed score of 92 last I checked.

    91 on AOL

    At least on the front page.

  30. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Speed Scores . . . if I'd ever thought about it, I'd have had to realize that such things exist.

    "In Cyberia, you do not keep track of baseball statistics. Baseball statistics keep track of you."

  31. Timothy P. Says:

    @22 JA In the last game Zambrano pitched, what the heck was he still doing in the game down by 8 runs in the 4th inning after giving up 5 home runs? He deserved to get tossed out of the game, but the pitches he threw at Larry Chipper Jones were low breaking balls, he was trying to get tossed to make a point. And then Quade starts arguing with the ump! What for? Zambrano walked calmly to the dugout and smiled. If you watch it again you can tell that Quade was so confused he didn't know what to do. There is a back story here and it's that Z thought Quade and Hendry left him in the game too long to embarrass him. Hence the desire to drive Z out of baseball so they can try to get out of his contract. By the way JA it's not Z's contract that is outrageous, he only has one year left. It's effing Soriano's contract that is the biggest joke in all of sports! It's the cornerstone of Jim Hendry's stupidity. Not to mention the 3 year Fukudome debacle. After getting kicked out of Boys Town, I lived in downtown Omaha for a while when Jim Hendry was the coach at Creighton University and I use to drink downtown sometimes at the French Cafe, and that fat idiot Hendry would come in and sit and have dinner and he would order his his steaks well done!! and these at the time were $35 - $50 Iowa cornfed Sirloins or New York strips, this was good beef and that rube would ruin it!!!!! I even saw that SOB put ketchup on a $60 filet one time! I should have known then that anybody that would ruin a perfect steak like that has the potential to ruin a ball club and the finest hitting pitcher in baseball!

  32. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Thanks for this change. In fact, I had noticed slower loading recently but wondered if the problem was my overloaded hard drive on a 2003 model Windows computer.

    There are many things I'd like to change about the MLB web site. If I go to because I'm not in a place where I can watch or listen to the game and just want to know the score, a bunch of backgrounds loads first, before any news items, and the score is usually last.

    Also, you have to log in EVERY TIME you go there. There is no option to save my log in information, which most sites (such as the Play Index here) do these days. I suspect that it is because they want you to have more opportunities to forget to uncheck that box that lets them send unsolicited stuff to you.

    On MLB's amateur draft page, where you can search for drafted players by various criteria, DC is missing from the state option. True, not many players from DC get drafted, but not many guys from, say, Vermont and North Dakota do, either, but their states are listed. (This year, there was a real prospect from Wyoming, and I read somewhere that he was something like the only the 12th player ever drafted from that state.) Incidentally, it's not due to DC not being a state, because players from Puerto Rico are subject to the draft now, and that's listed as a "state" option.

    When you view comments, only 10 are displayed per page, with no option to increase this number. Ironically, this was probably designed to allow the comments to load faster. These days, though, the comments themselves probably don't take long to load. But every 10 comments, we have to sit through the loading of the graphics, ads, etc. On a lot of newspaper sites (of which some, notably the Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News, load very slowly), articles of a certain length are broken down into two or more pages, and again, I have to go through a lot of graphics loading to see the eventual article. Some papers give you the option to View All, but first you have to see page 1 to get that option. And if it's only 2 pages, you don't save much time that way. Also, at least one paper - I think it's either the Inquirer/Daily News or the New York Times - doesn't give you the View All choice.

    Thanks again for your efforts on this site.

  33. Neil L. Says:

    Timmy P., you are definitely an all-American man! 🙂

  34. DavidRF Says:

    Thanks Sean!

  35. John Autin Says:

    @31, Timothy -- I hear your points. Hendry gave out so many bad contracts, it's hard to know where to start.

    "Ketchup on a $60 filet" -- that's kind of the opposite of some of those contracts, eh?

    But I don't see how you can blame Hendry for leaving Zambrano in that game. As for what Z thought, isn't that part of his problem? He always seems to think someone is against him.

    It was the 5th inning, and Zambrano had only thrown 74 pitches. Yeah, he was getting rocked. But the Cubs don't exactly have a deep bullpen. Marmol had worked the last 3 days, Samardzija and Marshall the last 2 days, and Wood 2 of the last 3. Zambrano had an extra day's rest since his last start. Why can't he take one for the team?

    His actions afterward pretty much answer that question. The team is not his top priority.

    Look, I can relate to frustration, anger, embarrassment, even temper tantrums. But Zambrano's getting paid to be the ace of that team, and that means a leader. If he can't pitch like an ace, it's even more important for him to try to act like one. Clearing out his locker after that game -- no matter what his rationale -- was 100% bush league, and management was right to punish him, regardless of their own failings.

  36. John Autin Says:

    "Speed score" is fine and all, but what's our Power/Speed Number?

  37. jbird Says:

    @5. dead on.

  38. jbird Says:

    @26 & 27. more dead on.

    @31. youre too much tim :O)

    @ mr. forman: as stated in the "historic ellsbury" thread, this site is THE BEST. thank you.

  39. Cheese Says:

    Ok, no one can complain if they are on a 7 year old computer...Do you complain that your VHS doesn't play Blue-Ray? Come on.

  40. Timothy P Says:

    @35 JA - "Ketchup on a $60 filet" -- that's kind of the opposite of some of those contracts, eh? Great point!

  41. Timothy P Says:

    I wanted to mention that I never have any problems with slows on this site. I think it's because I only have my computer hooked up to the cable, and not the TV, I don't have a TV. Maybe the reception is good in this part of the country.

  42. thom-13 Says:

    I was a bit confused by some of the comments but realize it might be the way I browse. I typically use Firefox and have NoScript constantly running. This tends to block out many ads as they don't have permissions to work. Occasionally, I'll want to see some content that is being blocked and I can temporarily allow permissions for a specific site or all on the page.

    If you're viewing from work, you may have issues depending upon how much IT allows you to download stuff.

  43. Mr. Dave Says:

    I've never had a problem with this site being either slow or not loading at all. Then again, my computer is about five months old, and the previous one wasn't old either. I wonder if any site speed issues were due to the age of the computer than anything else.

    At any rate, I appreciate the work that is done on the site and the constant efforting to make sure that things run smoothly on here. Keep up the great work!

  44. DavidRF Says:

    If you had an adblocker, then there weren't any problems.

    I didn't have an adblocker at work though. The problems I saw was that the ads would try to load before the page loaded and sometimes the ad-load would hang.... so then no page. Hitting reload repeatedly... it would eventually load. It was strange, lots of sites have ads, lots have more ads even. But this ad-load blocking the page load seemed unique to this site.

    Glad they've found a way to fix it.

  45. Mr. Dave Says:

    @44 Unless Norton has something like that, then I definately do not have an adblocker. I didn't even know they existed until this thread.

  46. Thomas Says:

    I know this isn't the spot for it but here's something I'd like if possible:

    On the mobile blog site, I'd like to have the comment number posted, because so many people start their response with @## and it becomes incredibly difficult to follow along and try and keep track of the numbers...

  47. Rich Says:

    @ 3 Ugh, yes, is so awful with this. My biggest pet peeve with them? You have to watch 3-4 freaking video ads WHEN USING GAMEDAY. It's not even game footage you're watching and yet they think a video ad there is appropriate.

  48. nesnhab Says:

    That is great news, especially from a paying customer. Thanks

  49. Nash Bruce Says:

    I don't have any problems with this site either. To echo what a couple others have just commented, my laptop is only a year-and-a-half old and runs great (knock on wood). I use Firefox, always. Just got back from Chicago, and, in the hotel, the common computers only offered IE as a browser (didn't waste the 10 seconds, to find out which version, but I'm sure that it was a newer version). What a terrible product. Slow, and rendering sites incorrectly. Ugh.

    I'll also echo some other comments, which have stated that "I am on here far too much." Timmy, I'll admit to thinking that on some of your worse days, I've felt the same about you- but (again, echoing some other comments) #31 was a killer! LOL

    Zambrano, at this point, is actually the best pitching hitter in baseball. (Sorry, Rick Ankiel. It was a good run.) I'd thought, 'well, why not ship him across town to the Sox? They need a DH.' Imagine my surprise when I saw that very same idea in one of the Chi papers a few days ago. Sox fans were not enamored with the thought, however- one comment went something like 'fans are going to be (going after somebody) with pitchforks and torches if this happens'.

    I guess that this fan felt that what is Dunn is Dunn.
    (Guess I've been on here a little too long myself!! *groans)

  50. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    STEAK WELL DONE: you have to leave it on the fire a while, then remove it, hopefully before it gets burned. Kind of like having Jim Hendry around too long.

    KETCHUP ON STEAK: isn't there an 11th Commandment against that?

    ZAMBRANO: I've posted here before, that he needs to go to an AL team where he can DH on non-pitching days. He will ONLY be happy when he has HIS way. I recommend the Yankees if they'll have him. On a pennant contender he'll have to put up or shut up. Maybe he'd be good for middle relief, to set up the 9th for Mariano Rivera. Just make sure he doesn't leave the ball park early, so he can watch Rivera and see how a real PRO handles pressure.

  51. Timothy P. Says:

    @33 you are definitely an all-American man! No Neil, I'm just a regular Amercan, no hyphen! Just a man and his cat.

  52. Neil L. Says:

    But Timothy P., you are admirably loyal to Juan Pierre, Michael Young, Carlos Zambrano, Josh Hamilton, and your cat, whose name, I must confess, I have forgotten.

    And I don't even know what team you root for. My guesses are the Cubs, the Brewers, the White Sox or the Rangers.

  53. Timothy P. Says:

    @52 Speaking of Hamilton, I have heard talk recently about how his play is very uninspired this year, and I've seen it too. He is probably the most gifted player in baseball except for Pujols, but he is 30 already. Combine his injuries with his off-the-field issues and I think you may have the Hack Wilson of the 21st Century. I'm a Cub fan, and like the White Sox also having lived in Chicago for a while. I like the Rangers because I'm a Nolan Ryan fan, and a George W. Bush fan, big fan of Bush! I lived in Fort Worth for a while too. My cats name is Sally. I like Konerko also, and Damon, Jemille Weeks, Alex Gordon, Delmon Young will be great one day, Berkman HoF, Kinsler I like he takes his walks. I don't like anything in the state of Wisconsin. Ever notice that in every WWII movie all the German speaking American translators are from Wisconsin? I think to this day there are still Nazi sympathizers in the cheese state and something that needs to be kept an eye on. Nazis = bad! I hate the Brewers.

  54. Timothy P. Says:

    I like Sean Marshall also, I think he will have long Jesse Orosco-like career but with a better ERA.

  55. John Autin Says:

    @49, Nash -- Groans from me you'll never get with punnery.

    A bad-contract swap like the one you proposed can only work if it's made before the fans have time to marshal their opposition. Thus, "If it were Dunn when 'tis Dunn, then t'were well it were Dunn quickly."

    (Just trying to bring the subject back to site speed!) (Also it's late and I may be incoherent.)

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