TOP OF THE TOWN – You know, the stunning losses by the Seattle Mariners (to Houston) and Seahawks (to Las Vegas and Denver) only accents the gaps that exist between teams. Although the gutty Mariners came back in Game three of their weekend series with Houston to win 6-3 in 11 innings, those two earlier losses 12-3 and 15-1 show just how far the Mariners have to go to become a top contender. Houston clearly is among the top teams in baseball (Dodgers, Giants, Tampa, Yankees, Milwaukee, White Sox are the others) and despite their shady past deserve to be among the favorites in the American League. You got to give the Mariners credit for hanging in there. Those crushing losses could have damaged them psychologically. But they are a resilient bunch and keep coming back after being knocked down. You got to appreciate that. Will they make the postseason as a wild card entry? I doubt it. They just don’t hit well enough. They need a couple bombers in their lineup that they now don’t have.  If you could throw in Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez at their peaks you would have something. As for the Seahawks, I just don’t like the way they are going. Yes, I know they have yet to play their expected starters (that will change this Saturday at home against the Los Angeles Chargers), but I don’t like it that their reserves are getting beat up against the other team’s reserves. That means Las Vegas and Denver. That shows a lack of quality depth. And as we all know the sport of football is violent and injuries happen almost routinely. And when you don’t have that quality of depth, you are in trouble. Plus, they already have been hit by two devastating injuries to Ben Burr-Kirven and John Urusa on Saturday night in the Denver game. Both are done for the season with knee injuries. Which brings me to this: I loved playing football when I was much younger, but the game is brutal and often has far-reaching consequences that last a lifetime, especially brain injuries and I would not play the game if I was young and had the ability to play college ball. The risk against the reward is too high. I’ll tell you what I loved about it, and still do (although I cringe whenever I see them bring out a cart to carry an injured player off the field). I was a quarterback-linebacker and I enjoyed trying to figure out what the next play was going to be. I was not the quickest player around, but I could sometimes out think the opposition and be able to make a successful play, both offensively and defensively. And, yes, I was always scared. At least until I got hit a few times and reached back and said to myself, “Okay, if that is the way we are going to play this game, I’m all in.” I remember an old-time fighter, I can’t remember which one now, saying one time, “If you are not scared when you step into the ring there is something wrong with you.”  I remember in a high school football practice one time that a neighbor that didn’t like me and who was three years older and much bigger than me, got a big (bleep) grin on this face as he took a handoff, saw a big opening in the line with only me plugging it and roared as hard and fast as he could right at me. To say I was scared was an understatement. But  I loved the sport and was not going to back off. He outweighed me by about 70 pounds and I stood my ground and was absolutely crushed. He ran over me, but I managed to trip him and he gained only three yards. I was face down in the mud, my helmet was twisted around and as I struggled to get up the head coach raced over and asked, “Are you alright?” It was a stupid question. But I was stubborn if nothing else and replied as I plucked mud from my mouth, “Yes” even as tears rolled down my cheeks. And I remember another time in a real game when I and another teammate hit a guy high and low and broke his leg. I still to this day feel for the other guy. Bottom line, I would not play the sport today if I could. Equipment is much better and affords better protection, but you need it because guys are much bigger, stronger and quicker than when I played. I don’t know how the modern football player survives the game today. In the long run, they don’t. Still, I love  to watch it because I can strategize from my chair how I would play each play. I just don’t enjoy watching guys getting carted off the field. Ok, that is enough for today. Stay safe.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.