Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Much ado about QuesTec
For those of you non-baseball-followers reading this, you probably haven't heard much about QuesTec. (Those of you who have can skip this paragraph.) QuesTec is a system introduced by baseball last year, which uses computers to judge balls and strikes. Umpires who don't agree with the computer's calls at least 90% of the time can be disciplined by MLB. Needless to say, the umpires are hopping mad about this; perhaps slightly more surprisingly, the pitchers are equally irate. Curt Schilling, angry after a poor start, destroyed a QuesTec camera (in a karmic retribution thingy, he later broke his hand), and several members of the Braves also expressed unhappiness with the system after blowing a lead.

Perhaps much less surprisingly, the pitchers who were complaining were pitchers who did badly; I certainly haven't heard a pitcher who pitched a good game saying the first thing about QuesTec (nor, for that matters, have I seen any comment from the hitters). And this is pretty much human nature -- after all, a pitcher will naturally look for a scapegoat, and the QuesTec system is an obvious target -- a nice inanimate object to take out your frustrations on. Pitchers destroying hapless water coolers have been a fixture of baseball for years; why shouldn't QuesTec, which in a pitcher's mind can easily be responsible, be any different? And as Schilling himself admitted, his opposing counterpart on his day of destruction was pitching a two-hitter, so it's hard to argue that he was suddenly terribly hurt by QuesTec.

I don't mean to say that QuesTec is perfect, but I have to ultimately side with this quote from Sandy Alderson: "What this is about is Curt Schilling wanting pitches that are balls, called strikes... If that's what he wants, he should go to the rules committee. Otherwise, he should stop whining and go about his business."

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