Hey Kolb - enjoy the banter
This article sums up my views very well:
First off – it is important to understand what the QuesTec system has been implemented for in the first place.
Major League Baseball wants to have a standard strike zone not one that is subject to the caprices of maverick umpires. In the rule book what is supposed to be the strike zone is clearly spelled out. However, some umpires have differing views and for years have gotten away with calling the strike zone as each umpire saw fit.
That is clearly unacceptable to MLB and should also be unacceptable to everyone else.
It is no secret that for years – MLB pitchers have had to scout the umpires just as much as the opposing team’s batters. Each umpire had their own idea of what they considered a strike. No uniformity what so ever.
Baseball purists will try to call this “the human element” but that is pure BS!
When foul poles were erected to help tell foul balls from home runs did people cry “You’re taking the human element out of the game.” Of course not.
When chalk lines were first put down from home plate down the first and third base lines – did people say – “you are taking judgments out of the hands of the umpires?” Of course not.
Those two innovations were simply viewed as useful tools to help umpires make the correct calls. QuesTec is just a new tool that will also help the umpires make correct calls based upon what MLB says is the strike zone.
Please note that QuesTec is only being used as a guide to help MLB evaluate the performance of the umpires. All MLB is asking is that 90% of the strikes called match up to what QuesTec also said was a strike.
Think about that. MLB just wants them to agree 9 out of 10 times. At your job is it OK for you to do what the boss wants 9 times and then decide for yourself what you want company policy to be on the 10th time? This seems to be very fair and flexible on the part of MLB.
That 10th time also gives the umpire the chance to make those tight calls on rising fastballs and backdoor breaking stuff. The calls that the umpires argue QuesTec won't be able to see.
What is the problem with trying to have a standard strike zone and trying to insure that the men behind the plate are competent to do the job?
The umpires will argue that they are being judged using an imperfect system. They say that the QuesTec machines vary from park to park and are subject to pre-game calibrations that are also subject to human error.
I find these arguments funny. In the first place – the results are only tabulated after the game. The umpire has to go into the game thinking the measurements are correct. They have to go into the game thinking that they will have to call strikes the way that MLB says they should be called. If a machine were clearly out of whack then the post game comparisons would show that.
If there are differences between parks then because of the technology involved they would be miniscule – maybe a 1/10th of an inch. The umpires are trying to find a loophole to hang their hats on to get out of being properly evaluated for their performance.
The funniest thing is the argument that the umpires have to learn what the strike zone is for each park. Isn’t that what pitchers have been forced to do with umpires for decades? Oohh – it is so unfair to the umpires that there may be slight variances between parks and they have to learn those variances to compensate. Tell that to the pitching coaches who have been forced to watch hundreds of hours of film to try and figure out the strike zone was to each ump. I wonder if the pitching coaches have any sympathy for that argument.
Two other major benefits of the QuesTec system that are rarely discussed include:
1. The umpires are supposed to be impartial judges but that “human element” may creep into their calls in a bad way. What if they just dislike a player or a team and they squeeze that player or team for their own personal reasons? Well that sort of bias would show up in the QuesTec reviews and I’m sure that would put an end to it. Can you imagine an umpire having to explain why the only mistakes he seems to make are against Mets (or Yankees or Red Sox) batters?
2. Baseball – like any major league sport – has millions of dollars a year bet on it. Probably the person who could be compromised the easiest with payoffs would be the umpire. QuesTec helps prevent even the thought of that because all performance would be reviewed. QuesTec thus helps protect the integrity of the game in more ways than one.
I have heard the arguments by the umpires and they are all bunk. Gone are the days when the umpires could make calls based upon what they thought of as “strikish”. I say good riddance to those days.
MLB is right in implementing the QuesTec system. I urge you to view the PR coming out against the system for what it is – pure bull shit.
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