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QuesTec system still needs improving

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.