Practically any baseball site that presents live score data is probably accessing a hidden data source that you can use, too—provided you know where to look.
Many sports web sites include features for following along with games in real time. These features are usually implemented as either Java applet or Flash applications. In either case, they’re miniature programs that your web browser downloads on the fly and runs on your local machine. These applications then request data (images, plays, and statistics) from the Internet and display this on your computer. If you just want to collect the data on a baseball game for analysis, but you don’t want to follow along in real time, you need to figure out where the application gets its data.
Today, most live score applications simply get data through HTTP requests to web servers. This is the same way your web browser retrieves web pages from the Internet. This makes it very easy for the baseball hacker to get what he wants from those servers. In the future, these applications might get more sophisticated and start using web services mechanisms like SOAP, or they might start implementing digital rights management (DRM) features to make your life harder. For now, you can use a few simple tricks to figure out where live score applications get data.
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