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The Wild, Wild Online World - Peripheral Forums/Blogs Of Potential...By Nelson Lardner

On the top shelf among the ranking free websites favored by those with a sporting bent, MajorWager is a fun place to hang out.

Have no doubt that many MW posters also find their way to a number of other worthwhile sites of this vein. You see the same sigs elsewhere, or adapted versions of same . . . or you may personally know folks who post elsewhere, under various handles.

Related "must" sports-oriented sites for those who read with an eye towards sustained earning through sports speculation are many, and include such well-known outlets as, the wide sporting offerings available within, and (Sports Illustrated's outlet), among others. Valuable insights can be absorbed at such venues, though you frequently have to filter out the obvious individual and/or collective prejudices of some correspondents (f'r instance: most ESPN college basketball talents' abject bootlicking of most ranking college basketball coaches, no matter how sordid their individual programs).

Then, there the specialized sites focusing on individual sports, featuring endless waves of opinion, gossip, and early-warnings of potential relevant developments. They're not always right, but is frequently spot-on, and has earned a dedicated - and deserved - following, thanks to their regular distribution of meaty portions of news regarding what has evolved into a twelve-months-a-year obsession for many.

Have little doubt that most of the serious players here are already up to speed with us, to this point. But there are specialized sporting sites catering to a certain audience that are chock-full of high info/humor content, and thought I'd share a couple of them with the MW audience.

Since we're heading high and hard into baseball season, thought we'd start off with the delightful, appropriately subtitled "Where Bad Sports Journalism Comes To Die." Inspired by the gaping holes in the broadcast game of the astonishing (and not in a good way), disingenuous, ex-Big Red Machine second baseman and current baseball color commentator, FJM covers the waterfront in exposing the weaknesses of many of those who play, write and talk about the national pastime for public consumption.

FJM is a closed forum . . . there's no message board on which the public might chime in. And you won't miss such a feature for a moment, as the level of postings is so extraordinarily high. No surprise, since the lead dog on the contributors list is known to the FJM community as "Ken Tremendous" (aka television writer Michael Schur, a one-time Saturday Night Live writer who has attracted quite a following for his writing and production talents which have helped make the series "The Office" a sustained success).

Oblique, telling analyses of recent columns, writing styles, commentators and athletes are rendered into entertainment, the hysteria heightened by line-by-line dissections which are frequently hilarious - especially since you're not the guy under the knife.

Football gets its share of play during its time, but this corner of the world-wide web was conceived with baseball in mind, in June of 2006, and has attracted a justified following. Some are disappointed when they learn that the main power behind the throne is actually a pro in his field, as if this sort of site should get extra points if conceived and executed by an amateur. Wake up, people! You're blessed that you get to enjoy Schur's wit and wisdom without having to endure commercials or other media-style backscratching. The needling frequently brings team and player merits/flaws to the surface that you may have overlooked or not otherwise noticed, and in sports evaluation, the wise accumulation of wisdom eventually translates into power.

For rollicking NFL bloggery in high style (with frequent offseason sidesteps into media and politics), we continue to delight in, also popularly known as "Kissing Suzy Kolber" (derivation obvious, even if you're not a Joe Namath fan . . . ). . Very lively, with fresh posts hung up frequently, along with consistently-regaling photo/caption work, KSK does its best work mocking the personality traits and quirks of NFL-associated types and topics, including Patriot fans (their Feb. 14 valentine to New England's finest is classic, if not entirely original). A more recent satirical rendition of possible NFL rules changes, and the imagined state of Tiki Barber's considerable ego, also work. Homophobia runs rampant, and a significant percentage of the site might be at least somewhat unsafe for work, but if you're not cheating, you're not trying. May not be the gushing fount of information that FJM can be, but is worth perusing for the medicinal value of the derived laughs alone.

Nelson Lardner

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