09/23/2002 10:57 PM ET
Umpires file unfair labor practice charge
By Barry Bloom / MLB.com
Major League Baseball umpires filed an unfair labor practice charge Monday with the National Labor Relations Board in opposition to the computer system that tracks ball and strike calls.
The World Umpires Association sent a 21-page letter to the NLRB's regional office in New York, saying management declined to provide information about the tracking system that the union has said is inaccurate, the Associated Press reported.
"The office of the commissioner has shielded the Questec system from inspection, and from critical inspection by experts trained in the physics of baseball and engineering," Joel Smith, a union lawyer, wrote to Celeste Mattina, the NLRB's New York regional director. "This charge is about a refusal to provide information from independent scrutiny."
In July, the umpires hired physicists and engineers to examine the system's accuracy. Robert Kemp Adair, a Sterling Professor Emeritus at Yale who wrote the book "The Physics of Baseball" was named to the six-member panel.
The use of the system has led to a lawsuit and two grievances, with the union claiming baseball won't respond to a list of 50 questions about the system.
MLB put the then-American and National League umpires under one umbrella and began systematic evaluation of their performances after the former union was dissolved in 1998.
In its letter to the NLRB, the union said management had "stalled, stonewalled and stymied," and "failed to supply information" about the system to the umpires.
Baseball officials weren't available to comment. But in the past, Rob Manfred, MLB's vice president of labor relations and human resources, said management would discuss the system with umpires after the season. The union had previously agreed to allow the system to be used as a "training tool," Manfred said.
Barry M. Bloom is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.