QuesTec system still needs improving

Despite Curt Schilling's recent act of luddism, QuesTec is not going away anytime soon.

Updated: May 29, 2003, 8:35 AM ET
By Jim Baker
Where is QuesTec -- the new electronic system that evaluates umpire's calls on balls and strikes -- on the technology timeline? Think of it as the car Henry Ford made just before he came out with the Model T. One hundred years from now, QuesTec will be seen as a crude and primitive tool yet, at the same time, an important step in man's search for ultimate truth on a baseball field. As the years go by, the QuesTec system -- or something like it -- will continue to improve until there will come a time when it is nearly foolproof. Technology is like that, as we have seen time and time again in other areas of pursuit. Computers once required entire floors of buildings to house them. Now people watch movies on their laptops. It stands to reason that a system created to monitor the strike zone will also improve.

In the meantime, we have this: a system that inspires the ire of major league umpires who have used it to scapegoat their calls. This in turn has caused pitchers to grow to hate it. One of them, Curt Schilling, expressed his disgust with the system by wrecking one of its monitoring devices. This act of luddism on Schilling's part will do nothing to stem the tide of technology. Murray Chass writes in today's New York Times that the umpires are not only dissatisfied with QuesTec, they believe the system is so flawed that it varies from park to park depending on the whims of the operator.

Let's say that is true. What is to be done? The system could be tested at the minor league level and allowed to be perfected there. Let's say it is not entirely true, that the umpires simply imagine that because they are so dead-set against the system they will allow themselves to believe anything negative said about it. Chances are, the truth is probably somewhere in between. It is a relatively new technology and cannot hope to be perfect.
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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