The “score bug” first came about in the early 90s in British soccer games, but was soon imported to the United States. Soon sports broadcasts everywhere had a permanent graphic showing viewers the score. As time went on, more information was included in the score bug, and for baseball games that meant including information such as the count, the number of outs, who was up, who was pitching, pitch counts, and how fast the pitcher was throwing.
FOX has updated their score bug for this post-season for the first time since 2017, and it’s a bit busy.
The new @MLBONFOX scorebug debuts this afternoon at CWS-HOU in the ALDS (4 p.m. ET, FS1).— Brandon Costa (@SVG_Brandon) October 7, 2021
It remains in the bottom right of the screen and replaces the previous design that first debuted in the 2017 #Postseason. pic.twitter.com/riNb1VOM79
The reactions were mixed.
Want to wander into a passionate discussion? Ask someone about Fox’s new score bug or preferred score bug size and location. I like the look especially when streaming on my phone. pic.twitter.com/8rUvSodr7m— Gary Sharp (@GarySharp1620) October 7, 2021
In a vacuum I like the scorebug update, but in action it's distracting pic.twitter.com/BSJomim6tf— Internet #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) October 7, 2021
If Fox’s objective when designing a new scorebug was to create something that would disgust the viewer & leave them asking “why god?”, well, they absolutely nailed it. pic.twitter.com/V98JzW57bd— Emily Nyman (@EmSheDoesIt) October 7, 2021
Little late, but this new scorebug is so sick. Don’t understand the hate for it. I love it. pic.twitter.com/bf7RxHGJAh— Alex Feuz (@AlexFeuz) October 8, 2021
EXEC 1: now, we've got the best scorebug in the game, but we're not satisfied are we?— The Jorker (@cdgoldstein) October 7, 2021
EXEC 2: Hell no
E1: We're redesigning this bitch from the ground up. The bases will be 3D and the 5s will just be upside down 2s.
E2: HELL YEAH https://t.co/2yknTOVE3O
Scorebug takes up entire screen. And the players can see it too on the field. https://t.co/r7GoGr4usE— David Brown (@AnswerDave) October 7, 2021
The new FS1 scorebug is fine but we really need to adopt the Rubik’s cube scorebug the NPB uses pic.twitter.com/nWDgJxGT3c— Ben Porter (@Ben13Porter) October 7, 2021
Score bugs really only need to do two things:
Provide graphics that are easy to read
HD televisions make the picture clearer than ever, but some of us older fans can still have a bit of trouble reading smaller font. The font should be crisp agains the background. I think the new score bug is actually an improvement on that front, using a bright color as the background. I do question the font - “is this a spooky font for Halloween or something?” but at least it’s easy to read.
Convey a lot of information but don’t overload it
There is a balancing act of conveying a lot of information to the viewer without overloading them or cluttering the screen. The score, count, runners on base, and pitcher and batter info has become standard. Pitch velocity has also become pretty standard, although the TBS score bug omits it. The count should be clear - the Bally Sports graphic re-design initially made it a bit difficult to determine the number of outs because it wasn’t clear if all the balls were filled in, signifying two outs, or if none of the balls were filled in, signifying no outs.
Beyond that, I don’t know that you need more info at a glance. It would be nice to know hitter stats - I often get frustrated that they will often show you a hitter’s season stats in his first at-bat, but never after that, leaving me not knowing how that hitter is doing if I turn the game on in the fifth inning. But you also don’t want their Baseball-Reference line cluttering up the screen. And you also want to know what that player did during the game, so I don’t know what a good compromise would be.
What do you think of the post-season scorebugs? How would you improve baseball TV graphics?