Welcome to Snyder's Soapbox! Here I pontificate about a matter related to Major League Baseball on a weekly basis. Some of the topics will be pressing matters, some might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things and most will be somewhere in between. The good thing about this website is it's free and you are allowed to click away. If you stay, you'll get smarter, though, that's a money-back guarantee. Let's get to it.

On Opening Day, I was working, obviously, but also hustled over to my brother's house to watch our favorite team with him and a few others. Someone in the room noticed a bar that was about half red and half blue atop the scorebug (that's the thing with the score, but also, at this point, umpteen other things) and asked what that was. It was win probability. 

A brief discussion mixed with laughter and playful dismay transpired. My initial reaction was to go into defense mode and pepper them with, "what's it actually hurting?" And I somewhat stand by that because it didn't detract from our actual enjoyment of the game. In the days that followed, though, I thought more about it and I think they were onto something. 

With that, I tip my cap to Eric and Chad. You ended up inspiring this Soapbox. 

There is no need to overload the zone with numbers and features to the extent that broadcasts do these days. And hey, while we're here, ballpark scoreboards are awfully busy, too. We can trim the fat a bit for both, can't we? 

Let's start with the scorebug and then hit on the scoreboards. 

Scorebug necessities

In this day and age, I think it's a must to at least have the score, inning and number of outs on the screen. 

I'm sure that some fans -- generally older ones who watched for decades with nothing on the screen but baseball -- would say they don't even want that, but I believe it's gotten to the point that fans need to immediately see the game situation when turning on a broadcast. What if you just turned on a game and it's a huge at-bat? I think being able to immediately realize the gravity of the situation at any point is a good feature. 

While we're at it, I think it's reasonable to say the bases can be shown. Every broadcast at this point has figured out a good way to put a little diamond on the screen while coloring in the bases when occupied. If someone strenuously argued against it, I don't think I'd put up much of a fight, but if I'm saying a fan should be able to tune in and very quickly figure out the game situation, I think knowing whether the bases are loaded or empty, for example, is a decent expectation. 

Similarly, I'm OK with the count, but I'm not totally sure it's 100% required. 

Scorebug luxuries

I think it's kind of nifty to add a tiny little up or down arrow with the inning to denote whether it's the top or bottom of the inning. It could be argued, of course, that fans who care about this would easily figure it out by the manner in which the teams are listed (visitor on top or on the left while the home team is listed second), not to mention the ability to discern home or road based upon the jerseys. 

I just don't think the arrow is intrusive enough to worry about. 

Is the pitch clock compelling enough to include at this point? It's pretty rare to see it called and even when it happens, it's not as though we were all sitting there counting down with excitement building toward the zero like a shot clock violation in basketball. I like the clock due to how it moves the game along, but there's little to no excitement in watching a clock tick down in this sport. I'm on the fence, but I'm not really sure we need it. 

My premise is that the scorebug is far too busy and this is stuff that doesn't seem necessary. I'd be fine with losing all of it. 


We can start with the win probability bar atop the score. When you show the score, the inning and the number of outs, the overwhelming majority of fans have a general idea of what team has the advantage. We don't need a number to explain to us that a 6-0 Royals lead over the White Sox in the seventh inning means the Royals are absurdly likely to win the game. 

What I'll say here applies to almost everything except the most basic information: The people who want it on the screen can find it on their own. Nearly all of them are already looking at other screens during the game anyway. Yeah, I've seen you all basically live post on social media before, so you can sit on Baseball Savant all game and monitor the win probability in addition to ...

Pitch sequence. No, we really don't need that on the screen. How much of baseball fandom wants it, like 2%?

Pitch count. Again, the people worried about this are holding their phones and can easily look it up if feeling so compelled. Once it's in a worrisome zone, the broadcasts all start highlighting it verbally and with on-screen graphics. 

The names of the players. C'mon. Do we really need our hands held so vigorously? There are graphics flashed on the pitcher when he comes in and on the hitter every time he steps to the plate. 

Pitch velocity and identification (for example, as I was writing this I just glanced up and saw "slider, 81 mph" listed below a team). Now, I know some people like seeing the pitch velocity every single time, but many of the broadcasts show the velocity next to a little circle where the pitch travels through the K-zone rectangle, so why do we need it twice? 

I don't even think we need it once. I understand why it's all there, I just wonder how many people so desperately must know every single pitch and its velocity or else they'd be furious and would turn the game off. It can't be a high number if it's anything more than zero. 

The broadcasters usually vocally identify the pitch anyway, and already call out notable velocities. 

Nearly anything else. We don't need everything fed to us in a tiny little box. We'll all still survive the broadcast just fine. 

Now, let's worry about surviving a game experience in person ... 

Scoreboard necessities

This should be easy. Every single person attending a game should be able to find on a scoreboard, or videoboard or whatever you want to call anything listing numbers, the following information: The score, the inning (top or bottom included), the count, the number of outs and some method of identifying the batter and pitcher (number, name or both). 

That's really it. I swear. You can get by enjoying a baseball game in person without any other information. 

As far as video highlights/replays, though, I do think in this day and age you've got to have them. Everyone does. I'm just pointing out that I do think it's necessary, especially since there are replay reviews and the fans in person have every right to see what is being reviewed. 

Scoreboard luxuries

The out-of-town scores is a nice touch and I don't have a strong argument against it, other than to say it's not a 100% requirement. If you care enough these days about the other games, you can follow on your phone. If you don't have one, you could always ask around or just not go to a game when there are other games of such importance that checking the score can't wait. 

Similarly, I like how some places put the standings somewhere in the ballpark. It doesn't need to be splashed all over the place and we can certainly live without it, but it can be done without being obtrusive. 

Most scoreboards these days find places, or even separate videoboards, to have the entire lineups listed and note where each team is in the order. I guess that's OK, but it's certainly not necessary. Remember, fans are allowed to keep score or just glance at apps on their phone with the lineups. 

I could see arguments for pitch velocity being a requirement. When you're at a game in person, there isn't a broadcaster calling out notable velocities and it would be preposterous to expect it to happen through a public announcement. I could counter by saying when you're at the game in person, it isn't 100% necessary to know how fast every single pitch is, but I'm into creating an experience that caters to lots of different sorts of fans and there are a good number of fans who like to look for pitch velocities. 

I think it's less important, but similar sentiment could be applied to pitch identification. It's hard to envision the experience of a fan being ruined if said fan doesn't know whether the previous pitch was a slider or curve and the hardcore, "I must know every pitch!" people can use their personal devices. 

Scoreboard stats

First off, no, you absolutely do not need win probability on the scoreboard at a game. 

As for individual stats, the scoreboards at the ballpark are gigantic these days and have the ability to display a veritable smorgasbord of stats during each pitcher vs. batter battle. 

We've gotta draw the line somewhere, right? 

Can we just go with the most mainstream ones that loop in fantasy baseball interest? Please? 

Batter: AVG/OBP/SLG, H, R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB and, yes, WAR. It's interesting enough and getting more mainstream! 

Pitcher: W-L, ERA, WHIP, BB, K, IP (CG/SHO for starters, saves/blown saves for relievers). 

I really don't think we need to go deeper. So many fans don't know what anything past the above listed stats are, nor do they even want to know. The hardcore baseball fans who are interested in more advanced stats don't need to see every single number for every single player anyway -- presumably, those fans don't need to look at scoreboard numbers to know which players are having great or terrible years. 

And, again, in this day and age, if there's a fan at a game just desperate to know what Juan Soto's xwOBAacon is, surely that fan has a device and the ability to know where to look to find said stat. 

Now let's all get on the same page here and stop making everything so damn busy. There's such a thing as too much information.