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POSTSEASON RECAP: Who’s the MVP of Baseball T-Shirt eCommerce?


Boston Red Sox fans are still giddy over their 2013 World Series Championship, having suffered for a last place team only one year ago. As for the rest of the 29 Major League Baseball teams, hope springs eternal.

Montage of Baseball Playoffs Shirts

Preparations for next season have already begun at the Baseball General Managers Meetings this week in Orlando, where much of the trade talks and free agent negotiations are intensifying.

When the eCommerce World Series begins on Thanksgiving, expect a major holiday rush on souvenirs from the eight teams who made the MLB playoffs. Using our recently released Benchmark Tool, we thought it would be interesting to explore what kind of experiences fans had over the past month while shopping for baseball t-shirts.

Your company can use our Benchmark Tool by setting up a free Yottaa account. It can give you an ongoing health report on your eCommerce site compared to your competition over any period of time.

BASEBALL FAN GEAR: Speedy or Sluggish?

Baseball Benchmark Time to Interact Graph

Although we rarely eat hotdogs while we analyze web metrics, baseball fans and web optimization fans have a lot in common. In both worlds, timing is everything. Every second counts. And we?re also both obsessed with statistics.

Imagine a pennant race where the winners and losers are determined by the user-friendliness and speed of online merchandise sales. We took a look at the following t-shirt sites, with teams listed in order of their 2013 regular season performance:

  1. Boston Red Sox ( “Fear The Beards” sums up the hairy personalities who won it all.
  2. St. Louis Cardinals ( “Don’t Hit On Me” is a sassy slogan for curvaceous Cards fans, the saucy companion to Nike’s “Everything is Hotter in St. Louis” women’s shirt.
  3. Atlanta Braves ( “We Own The East” celebrates winning the NL East Divisional Title.
  4. Oakland A’s ( The bright retro yellow “Mustache Gang” is a tribute to 1970s closer Rollie Fingers, a reminder that Boston didn’t invent facial hair.
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates ( Pittsburgh: The City of Champions (And The Pirates) pokes fun at the last two decades of losing Pirates teams compared to the city’s more successful Steelers and Penguins.
  6. Detroit Tigers ( Actress Alyssa Milano (pictured at top) models her “All-Star Slim-Fit Burnout Shirt” (The Tigers certainly did burnout!)
  7. Los Angeles Dodgers ( “Frankrupt” shirts poke fun at the financial woes of former team owner Frank McCourt.
  8. Tampa Bay Rays ( “Let’s Kiss For The Kiss Cam” is a licensed design from Victoria’s Secret.

In our world, checkout speed is far more important than how fast you run down the first baseline. Let’s take a look at how these teams (websites) rank in terms of Time to Interact, which is how long it takes from when the customer arrives at your website until the first moment the site is functional. Not everything may have been fully loaded at this point, but customers can now click, scroll or type and see the appropriate response.

baseball benchmarks traffic light chart

Analyzing the Results

In the “Traffic Light” metric chart above, green means ‘superior web performance (top 25 percent of all websites), yellow means “needs improvement” (middle 50 percent), and red means “poor web performance” (You can see the ongoing live monitoring of these metrics on our Baseball Benchmarks page.)

The Red Sox still fared well, but the Cardinals? runners up in the World Series are lucky that this eCommerce site exercise was not held against them. In terms of Time to Interact, the first-place Pirates ( are more than seven seconds or 3x faster than the Cards and more than 17 seconds or 7x faster than the Rays.

In this age of instant gratification, waiting 20 seconds to use a website can seem like an eternity. A quick Google search for “Tampa Bay Rays shirts” came up with 308,000-page results. There is no shortage of competition in the t-shirt world and customers won’t hesitate to spend their holiday dollars elsewhere.
Here’s a visual representation of how much faster the Pirates shirt site loads than its closest competitors. Every screenshot represents one second:

time to interact screenshots one second intervals copy

Using Yottaa’s free website monitoring software, you can rapidly isolate reasons why your site might be sluggish. The Benchmark Tool continuously samples data from servers across the country, showing you how your customers see your site. This random sampling of the Cardinals/ page taken on Nov. 12 in Chicago took nearly 16 seconds for the site to be operational. As you can see in the top right corner, that means that 87 percent of all websites are performing better. But why?

baseball benchmarks slow cardinals page stats

The typical number of JavaScripts on a superior-performing website is 8 with a total weight of 116 KB. The Cardinals shirt page contains 49 JavaScripts with a weight of 739 KB. This page also appears to be overloaded with visuals. The typical count for images is 25 (or 311 KB), while here it is 100 images with a footprint of 1.5 MB nearly five times as heavy as recommended!

A closer look at the site’s Waterfall Chart (found by scrolling down on the Benchmark page), confirms that JavaScript is mostly to blame. The horizontal bars on the partial Waterfall Chart below compare the loading speed of each individual asset. The vertical Green (Time to Title), Orange (Time to Start Render), blue (Time to Display) and Red (Time to Interactivity) lines mark the customer’s total waiting time.

A quick glance down the statistical waterfall detects immediate blockages:

baseball benchmarks slow cardinals page waterfall chart

Taking the Next Step

A large number of assets, regardless of size, can significantly slow down a website. Sometimes certain assets can be combined so they load with a single request rather than individually. Combining multiple JavaScripts or rewriting them so they load asynchronously can help speed things up.

Ditto for reducing the number of total images and decreasing the size of large images for web resolution. IT managers can manually make these adjustments or take advantage of the Yottaa Optimizer, which automatically monitors and reduces page loading times 24/7.

Either way, the holiday shopping season is your playoffs, the most important six weeks of the year. Help your customers hit a home run for their family and friends by making sure your website is always performing its best!

(Eager to get started? Download Yottaa’s free eBook, “How To Identify 10 Web Performance Problems in 10 Seconds”.


Yottaa Ebook How to Identify 10 Performance Problems in 10 Seconds Download


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