TOP OF THE TOWN – I’ve been around more than a few Seattle Mariners’ managers and have opinions on most of them, and some of them were pretty bad. I think Sweet Lou Piniella was the best. He managed to get the best out of his players by demanding they win, and he relied on veterans to get it done. He wasn’t the greatest with pitchers, but that is the only complaint I have of him. Piniella was the toughest of the tough, and liked toughness. He could be hell on wheels away from the field sometimes. His hung over session with the media one spring morning in Arizona was a classic. He described the various drinks he’d had during the night in country terms, as in Italian was wine, Germany was beer and France was champagne. I can’t remember what country represented whisky, but it may have been Russia, as in White Russians. If I hadn’t known he was a baseball manager I swear he was a comedian that morning. He had us members of the media buckling with laugher. I also remember he was late in coming out onto the field at Peoria, being hauled out in a golf cart. He didn’t last long and drove himself back into his office – something about emptying his stomach. Piniella is a guy you would want to go to war with, or walk with down a dark alley at midnight in a major city. I have to admit I was skeptical when Scott Servais was named the Mariners manager two weeks after end of the 2015 season. But the soon-to-be 54-year old Servais (his birthday is June 4) is really good, and he explains the game in easy layman terms. A former major league catcher (he played strictly in the National League with the Houston Astros who selected him in the third round of the 1988 draft, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies), Servais has done a good job managing considering what he has been dealt. The Mariners have not made the post-season since their 116-win season in 2001 (when they also hosted the All-Star Game) and seem to be rebuilding every year. Despite all that, I think the Mariners would have been worse off if not for the calming hands of Servais, who has guided an influx of players through the system without once going off in frustration on an alcohol bender through various countries like Piniella. Things are looking up for the Mariners and Servais. It may not happen this year, but the future looks bright for him and the franchise. So I’m all in. … As you might know, I’m not a follower of the NBA during the regular season. I find it boring to watch dunks and sloppy defense. And strategy, which I really like, is lost on me. Strategy seems to get much better in the post-season, and that is when I pick up the games. So I’m no expert on who will win the NBA championship this season. Will the Lakers repeat? I don’t think so, but don’t take that to the bank because of what I just said.  If the Nets are healthy, they have a shot at it. But their defense is severity lacking. I think just off the top of my head I will take the Utah Jazz to win it all.  In fact, I like the idea of the Jazz winning it all. I love the underdog and even though they put together the best NBA record this season (52-20), they are out of the major TV and radio markets and thus are the underdogs. Besides, they are coached by Quin Snyder, the former Mercer Island High School basketball star (He finished his education and college basketball at Duke). If the Jazz don’t win it, I hope the Denver Nuggets or the Phoenix Suns do. Anybody but the Lakers or Nets, please. I don’t like superstars ganging up on the rest of the league like what the Lakers and Nets have done. When I played in my youth I cherished playing defense against the best players on our opponent’s teams and I loved to play as the underdog. I couldn’t wait for those moments. As an aged-out adult, I still think the same way so I want the smaller market teams to prevail. Forget the Lakers. You can have the Nets. I want the Jazz, Nuggets or the Suns.  Ok, that’s enough. I’m getting worked up just thinking of the possibilities. So I’m outta here. Stay safe.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are love.