April 27, 2012 in Sports

Former Shadle Park classmates examine Hall of Fame

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Some might call it heresy to take the venerable Baseball Hall of Fame to task. But Matt Sullivan and his good friend Dave Manion weren’t afraid to step into the batter’s box, tap the dirt off their spikes and take a swing.

What began as “the brainchild of two close friends who have a deep and abiding love of America’s pastime,” resulted in a treatise they hope to one day have published, “The Fans-Eye View of the Hall of Fame.”

The well-researched and reasoned manuscript questions the induction of many players whose merits don’t compare to other Hall of Famers, and indicts the selection process that begs for reform.

“We’re not trying to cast aspersions on the players,” said Sullivan, Lakeside’s (Nine Mile Falls) baseball coach. “It’s more about the process that allows these guys to get in.”

The project began after Sullivan and Manion met in high school chemistry at Shadle Park, began talking sports and became fast friends.

“He dropped an off-hand comment two or three years ago about all the guys getting into the Hall of Fame and said, ‘We need a book.’ We decided to run with it,” Sullivan said.

Their mission was to “curb the recent movement toward marginalizing the Hall of Fame.”

What came out are 133 pages of information that, through a wide variety of standards they set (3,000 hits and 300 pitching wins are but a few) lists inductees in order of sure-thing, probable, arguable and unwarranted; compares players already in with those snubbed despite comparable statistics; offers evidence of selection flaws; compares eras (including steroids) and such wide-ranging changes as ballpark sizes and strike zones.

The book is particularly critical about the proliferation of committees – apart from the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) – that have diminished Cooperstown’s legacy.

“When pitcher Eppa Rixey got in,” Sullivan pointed out as an example, “he said, ‘They sure are scraping the bottom of the barrel.’ ”

In numerous instances, he and Manion agree with Rixey.

“What we basically did was just listen to each other (through long-distance conversations between here and Manion’s home in Seattle), talk about them, try to convince one another (of a player’s worth) and offer a compelling argument (for or against induction).”

They even list and comment on the merits of future Hall of Fame prospects. Their conclusion is that the Hall of Fame could be expanded with wings honoring one-time special accomplishments, while maintaining exclusivity for the truly exceptional player.

“There’s something to be said for high achievement,” Sullivan said.

Feel free to agree or disagree – it’s a thought-provoking tome.

New kid in town

Colin Deyarmin just finished cutting down the basketball nets for State 1B champion Almira/Coulee-Hartline when he confirmed he would be playing baseball at University this spring. The Titans’ center fielder was returning home.

“I moved after sixth grade with my mom because she got the superintendent job down there,” Deyarmin said. “After five years I decided I’d been away from my family for so long it was time to come back what with my brother (Gaven) graduating and me just missing out on stuff.”

The change from 1B to 3A classifications has been a revelation, Colin said. “It’s just basically the speed of the game, I’d say. (Titans coach Scott Sutherland) says I’m good enough to play at this stage. It’s just going to take a lot of time, a lot of timing.”

No-hitter bonanza

Blame it on the bats. Or is the area’s pitching talent that good?

Though typically rare, no-hitters have been commonplace this year. There have been 17 at last count – mainly in small schools. In the GSL, however, Mead sophomore Zac Regal has two, Gonzaga Prep’s Wyatt Mills and Ferris’ Wes Kopp one apiece.

G-Prep’s Justin Blatner was perfect for 6 1/3 innings against NC before hitting a batter and giving up a hit. There have been three no-hitters in the Great Northern League.

Short hops

The last time Mead won a Greater Spokane League baseball championship was 15 seasons ago. This year the pitching-rich Panthers claimed Mead’s fourth overall, finishing atop the GSL with a 16-2 record. Previous titles were in 1989, ’94 and ’97. … Rogers junior pitcher Wyatt Denman blanked Shadle Park, despite a 15-strikeout performance by Highlander Nick Bettinson. The Pirates scored the only run on a first-inning passed ball.

Playoff notes

District 4A best-of-3 playoffs at Avista Stadium: Tuesday and Thursday (next Friday if necessary), Central Valley vs. Ferris, 4 p.m., winner to subregional; Gonzaga Prep vs. Mead, 7 p.m., both to subregional.

District 3A best-of-3: Doubleheader at Shadle Park on Monday with University vs. Shadle, 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. (Tuesday game if necessary), winner to subregional. Doubleheader at Mt. Spokane Thursday (next Friday game if necessary) with Mt. Spokane vs. Shadle/U-Hi winner, 1:30 and 4:30, both to sub-regional.

• East Valley’s doubleheader against Clarkston to determine the GNL title was rained out Thursday and is scheduled for today at EV beginning at 2 p.m. The district tournament with six teams is Tuesday, Wednesday and next Saturday.

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