Major League Baseball on FOX (or MLB on FOX) is FOX's presentation of Major League Baseball, produced by FOX Sports. It has been on the air since 1996 and will continue until at least 2021.
Early Years (1996-2000)Edit
On November 7, 1995, Major League Baseball made a five year deal with FOX and NBC. Unlike the previous deal with The Baseball Network, Fox went back to the format of televising regular season games on Saturday afternoons (about 16 games starting with Memorial Day weekend). During odd numbered years, FOX televised the All-Star Game and American League Championship Series while televisiong the National League Championship Series and the World Series in even numbered years. This alternated with NBC each year.
Like NBC, FOX determined its Saturday schedule by who was playing a team from one of the three largest television markets: New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago.
In September 2000, FOX signed a contract with MLB to show Saturday afternoon baseball, the All-Star Game, selected Division Series games, and exclusive coverage of League Championship Series and the World Series.
New Contract (2007-2013)Edit
On July 11, 2006, rumors about the end of MLB on FOX ended when the network signed a seven-year contract, meaning the World Series would still be aired on FOX through at least 2013. FOX's regular season package now began in April, and the network still remained the exclusive home to the All-Star Game and World Series. However, the network was limited to one League Championship Series per year (ALCS in odd-numbered years, NLCS in even-numbered years), alternating with TBS. Since 2010, FOX has been airing Saturday night games.
Since its baseball coverage began in 1996, FOX has aired three regular season games on days other than Saturdays. In 1998, FOX aired a Sunday afternoon game between the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals as part of its coverage of Mark McGwire's attempt to break the single-season home run record set by Roger Maris. Also as part of that coverage, it aired a Tuesday night game between the Cardinals and the rival Chicago Cubs, in which McGwire hit his record-breaking 62nd home run. On April 16, 2004, FOX aired a Friday night game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox to cover the teams' first head to head meeting since the 2003 ALCS.
Commentators and In-Studio PersonnelEdit
The original studio personnel was Chip Caray, Steve Lyons, and Dave Winfield. Caray was replaced by Keith Olbermann from 1999 to 2000, who was replaced by Jeanne Zelasko in 2001. The studio host from 2001-2008 was Zelasko and Kevin Kennedy; from 2007-2008 there were rotating analysts along with Zelasko and Kennedy in Eric Karros, Mark Grace, and Joe Girardi (2007 only). Due to poor ratings the pre-game show was scrapped altogether after the 2008 season, and from 2009-2011, Chris Rose was the defacto pregame host being on one of FOX's game sites, although the FOX's studio in Los Angeles was used for the pregame shows during postseason and primetime broadcasts. In 2012, FOX and MLB Network collaborated on a new pregame show with Matt Vasgersian hosting.
Joe Buck has been the lead play-by-play man as of 2018, usually paired with John Smoltz. From 1996-2013, Joe was teamed with Tim McCarver. Then from 2014-2015 he was paired with Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds. However, there were fill-in play-by-play men available when Joe was doing the network's NFL coverage. Before 2001, Bob Brenly, who usually paired with Thom Brennaman, was a third man in the broadcast booth with Buck and McCarver during All-Star and postseason broadcasts.
During the mid-2000s decade, FOX utilized active or former players or managers as "guest analysts" during the network's League Champion Series coverage. These included Brett Boone (2003 ALCS), Al Leiter (2003 NLCS and 2004 ALCS), Brenly (2004 and 2005 NLCS), Lou Piniella (2005 and 2006 ALCS), and Luis Gonzalez (2006 NLCS).
Digital on-screen graphicsEdit
FOX used the score bug, nicknamed the FoxBox, on their baseball broadcasts and consisted of a rectangle on the top left hand corner of the screen. The first version featured a simple white rectangle with red borders on left and right. The FOX logo was on the top left side with the inning to the right. Below were the team abbreviations with their scores, stacked on one another. An orange dot indicates which team is currently at bat. A gray baseball diamond borders the score bug but only appears when there's a runner on base. A yellow triangle indicates which base has a runner. Below the scores is a black graphic indicating pitch count, number of outs, and pitch speed, all appearing in black text. The pitch speed appears in that same space before returning to the pitch count and number of outs.
In 1996, this score bug was slanted and then was all right angles from 1997-1998.
The bug would be turned off for very important events such as Mark McGwire's 62nd home run; however it wasn't turned off for the final out of the World Series.
Starting with its 1999 coverage, FOX's baseball broadcasts took on a new graphics package initially adopted for NFL coverage at the start of the 1998 season. The score bug and graphics now had a more "3D" and futuristic look. Now the scorebug had the FOX logo on the left with the inning on the right, now with a triangle indicating which half inning it was (pointing up was top of an inning, pointing down was bottom of an inning). Below it was a baseball graphic consisting of four rhombuses; three are gray to represent the three main bases and change to yellow when there is a runner on a certain base (or bases) and one is black with a gray upside down pentagon to indicate home plate. To the right was the scores in white text on a black background. Underneath was a transparent space where pitch speed, pitch count, and number of outs were displayed, also in white text.
Starting with this on-screen look and lasting until the graphics package was overhauled in October 2004, the score bug was turned off for the final out of the World Series as well as other critical events.
At the start of the 2001 season, FOX changed its on-screen graphics to the version that debuted on NASCAR broadcasts that year. The graphics package was an upgraded version of the 1999 design, but now implementing a banner (with a shaded area above it) at the top of the screen displaying the current score with a scrolling graphic displaying scores of other games in progress. From left to right was the baseball diamond graphic, the team abbreviations in white text and their respective scores now in yellow rounded boxes in black text, the inning, number of outs, pitch count/pitch speed, and this time the MLB on FOX logo was on the right. The pitch speed now was displayed in a yellow rounded rectangle.
This banner was slightly modified midway into 2003 to mirror that used by the regional Fox Sports Net affiliates. It was enlarged except on All-Star Game and World Series broadcasts as well as the April 16, 2004 Yankees-Red Sox game.
During coverage of the 2003 World Series and the 2004 All-Star Game, the logo on the far right was that respective event (World Series on FOX, All Star Game on FOX); from that point onward the MLB on FOX logo was only for regular season games.
While FOX overhauled the graphics package on its other properties starting with the 2003 NFL season, baseball broadcasts continued to use this on-screen look in 2004 (except during postseason broadcasts) but using elements of a new package used on FSN baseball broadcasts at the time.
Starting with its coverage of the 2004 postseason, FOX's baseball broadcasts began using the same graphics package which debuted on NFL telecasts in 2003. The score banner took on a similar layout that was used for football coverage at the start of the 2004 NFL season but continuing to use team abbreviations instead of their logos; however, the team logos are first seen for a second when the banner turns on before changing into the abbreviations. The team abbreviations were now in eggcrate-display lettering in the team's main color, with the scores shown in black parallelograms in white text. Whenever team specific information such as an out or run scored was displayed, that certain team would have its abbreviation morph into its logo and then back to the abbreviation. When a run scored is displayed, that team who scored the run would have its abbreviation morph into the logo and a "strobe light" would flash over the score to indicate a change in the current score. Whenever a home run was displayed, a split "strobe light" flashed across the banner between the diamond graphic and MLB on FOX logo (or logo of the All-Star Game or postseason series) and the words "HOME RUN (TEAM)" zoomed in from left and right in the teams main color.
During FOX's coverage of the 2005 World Series, a new banner debuted, resembling a chrome finish. The team abbreviations were this time in white text in the background of the team's main color. This new banner was used for all games the next couple of years.
FOX's baseball broadcasts continued to use this on-screen look in 2007, while its other properties again adopted new graphics starting with the 2006 NFL season.
This banner was also used during the Rockies-Mets game on July 12, 2008 until the late innings but using the 2008 graphics package instead of the package that was normally used with this score banner.
For the 2008 season, FOX's baseball broadcasts began using the same graphics package adopted for NFL in 2006. The diamond graphic is now to the right of the scores, now slimmed down to only consist of the three main bases. The MLB on FOX logo was moved to the far left, and the colored strip across the top of the banner is locked to blue instead of being the color of the active team (like it was on NFL broadcasts). The shaded area above returns but without the animated stripe pattern seen on football broadcasts.
The team's logo no longer flashes after scoring a run but the background sound of a computer mouse clicking is played with the changing of the score. The banner no longer flashes after a home run. Instead, along with the usual clicking sound, the text "HOME RUN: (team)" on the team color's background clicks in the empty space on the far right, which also includes the count and the out-of-town scores. The same goes for the NFL on FOX scoreboard when a touchdown or a field goal is scored. This banner is similar to the one used from 2001 to 2004, as the team abbreviations are not in the team's main color as well as the banner retracting from the top of the screen, but the scores are not shown in yellow boxes.
At the start of the 2009 season, telecasts began using the same graphics package implemented by FSN that year, with the score banner returning to a box at the top left corner of the 4:3 screen. Along with FSN in observance of the holiday weekend, the baserunner graphic changed to blue with stars during the Fourth of July weekend and the All-Star Game in 2010. Also in July 2010, broadcasts began to be produced entirely in 16:9 widescreen and letterboxed for standard definition viewers. The score bug was repositioned to be in the top left corner of the widescreen feed.
Starting with Opening Day of the 2011 MLB season, both the Fox broadcast network and Fox Sports Networks began using the same graphics package adopted for NFL on Fox telecasts in 2010, featuring a new horizontal layout with team abbreviations (as opposed to the use of team logos on the NFL version) and scores flanking a display of the inning, diamond, count, outs (represented by 3 lights), and pitch speed in the center. The new scoreboard was also able to slide open to reveal statistical information or home run notifications.
For the 2012 MLB season, the score box was modified to use cap insignias instead of team abbreviations, and outs were now represented by only two lamps. Beginning with the 2012 NLCS, the score box was modified again to match the new layout adopted by Fox's NFL coverage at the start of the 2012 season; teams and scores reverted to being vertically stacked on the left, the base graphic moved to the right-hand side, pitch speed is displayed below the base graphic (which now displays the pitch count below the diamond after 40 pitches as well), while the count, outs, and inning number moved to a tab below the box. This graphic was also not removed for the final out of the World Series. In late-March 2013, the Fox Sports Networks began using this version in time for the start of the 2013 MLB season (the previous scoring bug was used for 2013 Spring traininggames).
For the 2014 season, Fox's MLB coverage debuted a new graphics package first seen on its NASCAR broadcasts that year. Notably, the score box was moved to the bottom-left corner of the screen. The box places the team abbreviations and scores on the left side over the team's background color. On the top of the right side is the inning (which is the only component in yellow text) and the base graphic; the lower right contains the count and outs (represented by two dots). Above the main box is a new "dynamic" strip, which by default shows the last name of the current pitcher along with the number of pitches he has thrown. However, this strip can be expanded and change color to display team-specific information, such as on-deck hitters and pitchers warming up in the bullpen. In June 2015, this was also expanded to include a white area featuring the last name of the current batter and their performance throughout the game (or their average for their first time at-bat). When a home run is hit, the main box turns to the team's color and displays the text "Home Run", while the dynamic strip grows and displays the name of the team over the team's logo. Other times (usually on FSN), the dynamic strip displays the name of the player who hit that home run and the main box displays the type of home run and how many home runs that player has hit during the season. The graphics package itself is similar to the previous design, though these graphics are more in the shape of a square, with a typeface that is less athletic in style than the previous Fox graphic packages. Starting with the 2016 season, the score box was moved to the bottom right.
For the 2017 postseason, Fox's baseball broadcasts unveiled a new graphics package first seen on its NFL telecasts, though the same layout from the 2014 version for the scoring bug was used, with the addition of two statistical panes atop the scoring bug for batter/pitcher matchups, game at-bat results, and individual statistics. Also, the inning indicator, the ball-strike counter and the out counter (which is now back to being numerically represented) were all moved to the bottom of the scoring bug.