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Angry Umpires File for Arbitration

August 15, 2002

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NEW YORK (AP) _ It’s not just players that baseball owners are fighting with.

Angry that management has refused to provide information on a computer system that analyzes balls and strikes, umpires filed a demand Thursday to have the American Arbitration Association resolve the dispute.

``We need to know what it can do and what its capabilities are, and then how its capabilities can translate to baseball,″ said Joel Smith, a lawyer for the World Umpires Association.

Umpires filed a grievance against owners on July 19, claiming the refusal to provide information violated their labor contract.

According to the union, management lawyer Jennifer Rosar Gefsky responded with a letter denying the grievance, saying any questions about the Questec Umpire Information System would be decided after the season by the joint committee of umpire and management representatives.

``The only thought that comes to mind is that either Questec or the office of the commissioner are concerned that once it is examined by experts, the Questec UIS shall prove to be less reliable than its proponents have claimed,″ said a letter sent by the umpires to the commissioner’s office Thursday.

Rob Manfred, the owners’ top labor lawyer, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Umpires claim the computer system does not accurately track pitches, especially breaking balls.

The July 19 grievance was filed a day after owners sued the union in federal court, asking for an order that its attempt to discipline John Hirschbeck, the union head, was not subject to arbitration. Owners asked for a permanent injunction preventing the union from taking the dispute to arbitration.

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