Damn the decadent bastards, with their caviar and Cristal and MLB Extra Innings digital cable package. What can the common man do?

Fear not, proletariat. We are on a college campus. We have computer labs. We have access to the myriad real-time online game re-creations. But in a field dominated by whackoff Java code-jobs, not to mention applets all called “GameSomething” (demonstrating once again the elusive middle ground ‘twixt literature and sports), which one do you use to better avoid sunlight and conversation?

#3: GameCast (sports.espn.go.com/mlb/scoreboard)

ESPN’s entry into the fray falls squarely in the realm of mediocrity. In its favor is its simplicity; it’s easy to understand what is going on, and the display is functional and uncluttered. It doesn’t leave very much information at the viewer’s fingertips.

However, this sparseness gets ridiculous once you look at the actual field, where runners aren’t even named and fielders are referred to only by uniform number. Find me a fan who knows every uniform number on the Reds and I’ll show you the one guy in Isla Vista who’s ass I can kick.

#2: GameCenter (scores.sportsline.com/scoreboards/mlb)

CBS’s GameCenter has the advantage of not being applet-driven. You don’t need a sophisticated browser to access it, although you trade a few bells and whistles for that. But then, if you cared about flashiness, you’d have a real computer, or you might live in a real city with a real baseball team and real broadcasts.

The display is a low-angle shot of a baseball diamond with counters (eerily reminding me of graph-paper battle setups from AD&D. Not that I ever played AD&D) representing the batters, runners and pitcher. Little faux-LEDs light up to display how many outs, balls and hit points – er, strikes. The inning summary is concise, though it boasts arbitrary capitalization (see “elusive middle ground” above).

What’s really neat, though, is the inclusion of an at-a-glance scoreboard for the rest of the league, outlined with colored boxes to let you know when something interesting is going to happen – blue for RISP, red for a run. Add in the quick load time and it’s the best way to neurotically keep up with all your fantasy players at once.

#1: GameDay (www.mlb.com)

Major League Baseball’s GameDay is probably the most detailed applet you can get, covering up-to-the-minute boxscores, baserunners, batter’s count, game history and more. You pay for this intricacy with bugginess; I loaded an Angels game only to witness David Eckstein at the plate, being pitched to by David Eckstein, with David Eckstein leading off of second. That’s what I love about baseball – the unpredictability.

The most unique feature to GameDay is the pitch-by-pitch, which boasts a line-drawn batter and numbered circles corresponding to each toss’s location in the strike zone. This makes watching a pseudo-game a lot more interesting even though: a) the batter is this ’50s Anglo sketch with a stance straight out of Tom Emanski’s videos (I hereby dub him “The Beav”) and b) if you listen to a broadcast while watching GameDay, you find the location of the pitches has nothing to do with where the ball actually went.

And makes you question why it’s so necessary to stare at a tiny computer screen for nine innings.