The pitch clock is coming to Major League Baseball this season, and it will also be coming to scorebugs on at least two networks.
Per Jeff Agrest of the Chicago Sun-Times, both ESPN and the NBC Sports RSNs plan on including the pitch clock on their MLB scorebugs this season.
NBC Sports Chicago has said they will be testing two different designs during the network’s White Sox Spring Training schedule (which will presumably apply to NBC’s other RSNs as well) before making a decision on a choice for the regular season.
NBCSCH will try out two designs during its six-game exhibition schedule. One has the clock inside the bug, and the other has it in a circle to the left of the graphic.
“Either way, it’s not going to be floating somewhere else,” said John Schippman, the network’s vice president of content. “It’s going to be all tied up together so it doesn’t distract the viewer or take up any more video space. And it’s not some kind of flashy animation. We want it up there to educate people, but we’re not saying ‘Look at the pitch clock’ every time somebody gets on the mound.”
Here’s a look at the NBC Sports scorebug for the 2022 season.
Wherever the pitch clock is located, it will extend that scorebug further along the top of the broadcast (assuming that ad isn’t going anywhere).
ESPN also plans on including the pitch clock in their scorebug in 2023, which we’ll see during their broadcasts next week.
Phil Orlins, ESPN’s head of baseball production, said the network put the clock in the lower-right corner of its score bug, where the pitch count is. Orlins tried putting it with the pitcher’s name on the line beneath the team’s logo and score, but it didn’t have the impact he was looking for.
“We looked at changing it from the pitch count to the clock at a certain time,” Orlins said. “We opted to keep the pitch count, and when the clock hits a certain time, it would slide in and the pitch count would slide over.
“If it gets to zero without a pitch, there’ll be another spot with the pitcher’s name that’ll say with a bright-colored background ‘pitch clock violation.’ And then the spot where the count and baserunners is located would go to a ball or a strike for two or three seconds before it goes back to the pitch count.”
Here’s a look at the ESPN scorebug for the 2022 season.
Given that the box in question already switches to display the pitch speed, I don’t think it also displaying the pitch clock at a certain time is a bad idea. The clock also could be displayed on the back of the pitcher’s mound (where there’s an ad on the above graphic), and ESPN could eventually also add pitcher disengagements (also part of MLB’s rule changes this season) to their scorebug.
While all of this information is useful to some extent, there’s also the possibility of data and graphics overload on the screen. We’ve seen this before with shift graphics in the top right corner of broadcasts, which should be eliminated following MLB’s ban of the shift this offseason.
Could we eventually see a second on-screen graphic solely dedicated to what I’ll call “pitcher stuff”? Balls, strikes, total pitches, pitch clock, velocity, disengagements..it makes sense, but again, could result in an information overload for the viewers.
Anyway, we’ll see how these look soon, and we’ll see if other RSNs (most notably, Bally Sports) and national networks follow suit.