Sunday, June 16, 2024

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, from me, also a dad.  I'm spending today watching the Seattle Mariners on my TV (hoping they can capture their first division title since 2001), and working on my website a bit!

Welcome to all the new visitors from japanballtickets.com, and thanks again to that website's proprietor Michael Westbay for featuring sportsmap.world on his site, and also for providing me with more accurate Japanese baseball schedule data, which was a big goal of mine because I love the NPB experience.

I'm going to experiment with a Reddit ad campaign to see if I can get some more traffic coming in that way.  Should be fun to see if we get some new users from that.

Everything is out-of-pocket for this site; there's no ad revenue, no tracking data, no cookies, etc.  Just old-timey fun that's "free" as in beer, as we used to say.  (Personally, I've gotten weary of previously good quality Internet experiences getting further degraded by staid corporations and narcissistic billionaires, so I'm enjoying just bringing useful and fun data visualization to the masses.)  I'm paying for site hosting, domain registration, and now an ad campaign, but I'm treating it all as a hobby expense and just for fun, at least for now.

I always put a disclaimer up to remind people to double-check venue and event information before making travel plans, partially because of the way I collect venue information for some events.  My primary data source doesn't always provide venue data explicitly along with events' data, and in those cases, I do a query for the home team's usual home venue.  Of course, that might not be correct; some events might take place at neutral or alternate sites, and in some cases my data source has incorrect or out-of-date venue information for a competitor.  

This has been a problem with the NBA's development league, which has seen frequent relocation of teams; I've noticed that sometimes the venue info for the home team is way out of date.  Closer to where I live, there's a popular lower-level soccer team called FC Ballard, which previously played its home matches at a small stadium in the Interbay neighborhood of Seattle, but has this year switched to Memorial Stadium in the shadow of the Space Needle (where I refereed dozens of high school football games in the past).  I've made some spot fixes here and there for the venues I've noticed don't look right or that I know to be wrong, but of course, I can't do that for the whole world, so some venues may just be wrong.  Always verify the venue before you book travel or tickets!

Along those lines, a lot of the home-team venue entries I collected for these "unvenued" events are more than a year old, and I'm going to start doing some work to refresh them on a regular basis.  The number of queries I'm allowed to make from my primary data source are limited, so I have to be a little strategic about it; but, my goal is to try to make sure these are no more than about 15 months out of date.  Doing this allows me to present way more events than I previously was able to, including college sports, lower-level soccer leagues, etc.

By the way, if you enjoy the site, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn to drop me a line, or Buy Me a Coffee!  I recently re-entered to workforce as a principal engineer working on Tableau Public, one my old employers; that's quite exciting indeed, but it also means that for now, that will get most of my engineering attention, so changes here will be less frequent.  I do at least plan to keep it running, and fortunately the site is in good shape and actually requires very little maintenance to keep the lights on and the event updates flowing.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Adding alternate sites for the NPB; thanks, JapanBallTickets.com

Japan's professional baseball league, NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball), is near and dear to my heart.  I first visited in 2016 and was captivated by the crowd and atmosphere at a game in Hiroshima between the Carp and the Tigers.  My wife and I sat in the visitor's "performance" section with the Tigers' supporters at Mazda Stadium, and they could not have been friendlier (or rowdier!).  Since then I've been back to see games in 2018 at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, in 2019 at the Fukuoka PayPay Dome and Koshien Field, and in 2023 at the Tokyo Dome.  It's always been a delight to catch one of these games and marvel at the atmosphere.

It was really important to me to get the NPB schedule data right; some games take place at alternate venues across the country (for example in Akita, Okinawa, and Kumamoto), and I wanted to represent those correctly on the map.  Enter Michael Westbay, the brains behind JapanBallTickets.com; he was kind enough to share his spreadsheet of ticketing data, which contains the correct locations for all games during the season.  After adapting his data, I'm happy to present correct alternate venue locations for NPB games in 2024:



This was something I really wanted to get right on the site, and it's nice to be able to do so.  As I write this, my primary data source has correct date/time info for games through May 29; after that, a few games have had their start times changed, but it isn't yet reflected in the data.  

As always, please verify start times and home venues with the home team before making travel plans and buying tickets.  

Have a great season and play ball!