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WGN and NBC Sports Chicago both need to tweak their scoreboxes

A minor quibble, perhaps, but a quibble nonetheless.

As many of you know, I used to work as a television director. Thus what appears on screens during a baseball game is interesting to me not only for the game itself, but how the TV production crew puts together a broadcast.

One of the most important things in a modern baseball broadcast is the scorebox. On most broadcasts, it’s constantly on-screen, giving you the score and game situation.

This is a great innovation. As recently as 25 years ago, this sort of thing didn’t exist for many channels carrying baseball (and other sports). If you tuned into a game late, you’d have to wait until they posted the score on the screen or the announcers gave an update to find out the game situation.

So it’s something I appreciate. But as a TV director, there are things that two Cubs channels, WGN and NBC Sports Chicago, have done with their 2018 scoreboxes that I’d like to see modified.

Here’s WGN’s scorebox, from last Friday’s game:

That’s actually pretty good. The scores, inning and number of pitches are easy to read. The indicator of men on base (nobody on in this screenshot) is clear. The typeface is also clear and easy to read.

What isn’t clear is the number of outs. Sure, there are two blue dots at the right, next to the ball and strike count, but it’s not immediately clear what those are. Further, depending on the size of your screen they could show as really small. All the other indicators are numbers — the out indicator should be, too.

WGN has already updated this box once. Here’s a screenshot from the last spring training game on March 25, televised by WGN:

As you can see, the out indicators there are really small. (I think there was one out at the time of that screenshot, but it’s really hard to tell.) At least they enlarged those indicators. But they would be much easier to read if they were numbers. I’ve spoken to a couple of people with vision issues who have watched these games and they say the WGN “outs” indicator is almost impossible to read.

NBC Sports Chicago, the re-branded CSN Chicago, has broadcast three of the first five Cubs games. Here’s how they identify our favorite team:

“CHC”? That’s the way you’d see it on a national broadcast, but these are for local consumption. Note, though, that during the 2016 World Series Fox changed that to “CHI” — because obviously the Cubs were the only Chicago team playing at the time (you will no doubt remember this pitch quite well):

Anyway, NBC Sports Chicago is using the same scorebox (excellent, very readable, incidentally) they used last year as CSN Chicago, so they can’t claim “CUBS” doesn’t fit. Here’s a screenshot from CSN last September 29:

Same channel (new name), same scorebox. Also, they didn’t have any trouble putting “CUBS” in their scorebox for a Cubs/White Sox spring training game on March 16:

And they continue to use “SOX” for White Sox games this season — this one’s from Tuesday night:

So, NBC Sports Chicago — your next Cubs broadcast is tonight, Cubs vs. Brewers in Milwaukee. I’d like to see “CUBS” back in your scorebox.

And, WGN, your next Cubs telecast is Sunday, also in Milwaukee. That gives you a few days to make the outs more readable.

I’ll grant you these are minor inconveniences. But as someone who worked in TV for more than 30 years, it’s something I personally would have tried to make right, and I’d like to see the Cubs channels do just that.