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Watching the Detectives Tony Massarotti
2003-04-24 15:51
by Mike Carminati

Watching the Detectives

Tony Massarotti of The Boston Herald writes that the Questec Umpire Information System (UIS) that has been implemented in a third of all stadiums may be causing more walks to be issued and also may not be achieving one of its proposed goals-to speed up games.

I have already shown that the system cannot work the way that it is currently envisioned (here and here). The umps hate it and would do something about it if they had a credible union (thanks, Richie Phillips). Now, Questec apparently is causing problems on the field. The umps are nervous to call something a strike if it can be proven to be otherwise. This is evidently getting under some pitchers', catchers', and managers' collective skin. Leave it to the commissioner's office to come up with something as caustic as UIS to tick everyone off.

I do have to say that the implication that Questec is causing runs, home runs, and walks to go up across the majors is a specious contention at best. Questec is only used in one-third of all stadiums. Besides statistics vary from year to year and from park to park and always seem to be higher in the spring anyway. The change may have very little to do with Questec.

Crew chief Randy Marsh's comments regarding "hittable pitches" are very telling though:

"In the past, there have been pitches that are a little off the plate that are hittable pitches that we'd call strikes. If we call them strikes now, we're wrong. You have Questec looking over your shoulder every single pitch.''

The self-importance of the umps to call their own strike zone and not the one defined in the rule book-which Marsh admits was commonly done-is what got us in this mess in the first place. Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. Well, that sure ain't the umps.

Of course, this is all tilting at windmills. The commissioner's office wants the system because they don't trust the umps. The umps are relatively powerless to stop it. Unless the players union gets involved, in a few years the UIS will be monitoring all major-league games. Where's Neo, aka Mr. Anderson, when you need him anyway?

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