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On MLB scorebugs and their place during baseball broadcasts

A scorebug can’t make or break a broadcast, but it can certainly draw your attention away from the game.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing will ever beat the atmosphere of being at a game in person. But for most of us, consuming baseball is largely through the broadcasts we watch every day. For me, a quality broadcast informs—but does not distract—from the game itself.

A small, and oftentimes overlooked, aspect of a quality broadcast is the graphics. The scorebug in particular is an important appendage to the overall broadcast. This single graphic, continuously on the screen, is used to educate the viewer in real-time. However, the balance lies in finding something not too bold or cumbersome, where the information being portrayed does not get lost within itself. The YES network changed to its current scorebug in 2021, and compared to the national media outlets, I find the YES network to be far superior. It is time for a scorebug breakdown.

The problem with a lot of scorebugs is that in an attempt to shove as much information into one graphic as possible, they become too busy. Striking the perfect balance between informative and visually pleasing is the YES graphic. You can see the graphic in action during Judge’s record setting home run from last season.

It has all the information you would need without burdening the viewer. The color scheme of each team—including the logo—makes the score pop, while seamlessly drawing your eye downward for lineup and pitching information. The pitcher’s name smoothly transitions to pitch type and speed without diverting attention away from the game. It also includes the basics on the right, concisely and cleanly. Its length across the screen may be a drawback to some viewers, but I prefer it to a crowded square. There is also enough space on the YES network scorebug that it remains visually appealing when longer player names are displayed. The graphic is not over-the-top but has enough flash to keep you interested. YES’s scorebug is a curated blend between new and old. Of the other regional sports networks I find that SNY’s accomplishes many of the same aspects while remaining sleek and a hint more modern.

With the postseason approaching, viewers will soon be turning their eyes to national outlets, including FOX. For every clean, visually appealing scorebug there is a FOX graphic. Let’s start with the overdramatized, 3D monstrosity of a base graphic. The bases are gimmicky and borderline aggressive. Knowing how many runners are on base is important, but making it the main feature of your graphic is troublesome. An overly bold white font depicting the score and team abbreviations fits the gaudy design that was cemented by the bases. The slightly faded team colors and logo behind the score add little value to an already crowded score. An attempt to be subtle with the current pitcher and batter abruptly alters the tone, making it non-cohesive. We can only hope that FOX has something new up their sleeve for this coming postseason.

Apple TV took the anti-FOX approach in regards to creating a graphics system. Their minimalistic, dark-mode design is a nod to their technological roots. It feels computerized but with intention, and certainty provides a fresh take compared to the bloated graphics we see today. I wonder if this graphic will be an outlier or a trend to a more modern graphic design during baseball games.

Scorebugs will continue to evolve, as cycles between sleek and bold run their course. While it may seem insignificant to some, how the viewer receives information about the game is an important aspect of consuming baseball…

Or maybe I have spent too much time staring into the abyss of the Yankees scorebug pondering what went wrong this season.