TOP OF THE TOWN – If The Seattle Mariners have a bad season and complainers get all over manager Scott Servais for it, I’m going to be upset. Other than Lou Piniella whose competiveness is beyond the pale and drove him to drive his teams to success (how many base bags could he rip up and how much dirt could he toss on umpires shoes with his shoes?) Servais is my favorite as a current manager in the Major Leagues. He stands quietly in the dugout during games, accessing what is going on, but his mind is racing. When he’s interviewed post-games he always tells it like it is without blasting his players (unlike Piniella), and his comments are always right on. He knows the game, knows his players, and knows the right situations.  So why is his current team floundering (the Mariners are 17-22 going into May 20 game in Boston), seventh worse in the American League of 15 teams? The bullpen is not the 2021 bullpen, which was exceptional and allowed the Mariners to be the surprise team in the league, winning 90 games when expectations had them around 72 victories. I trust only Paul Sewald (2.84 ERA with 13strikeouts I 12.2 innings, Penn Murfee (0.79 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 11.1 innings) and Erik Swanson (1.29 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 14 innings), who is on the 15-day IR right now. Diego Castillo is about useless, Andres Munoz has a 100 MPH fastball and has struck out 20 in 11 innings, but has control problems and Drew Steckenrider is suddenly very hittable and has an ERA of 4.85.  It is not all on the bullpen, however. The Mariners have a strange ability not to hit with runners in scoring position. Although first baseman Ty France is the real deal. He puts the ball in play and is the best Mariner hitter I’ve seen since Edgar Martinez. He’s currently batting .323, which puts him in the top 10 (9th) in the AL. Shortstop J.P. Crawford is hitting .300 and that is 22nd in the league. Rookie centerfielder Julio Rodriguez is coming on strong and is fourth on the team (catcher Tom Murphy is at .303, but is on the 10-day IR) with a .270 batting average. The guys Jerry Dipoto brought in during the off-season — Jesse Winker, Adam Frazier and Eugenio Suarez – to bolster the offense are not busts, but have struggled to be what they are supposed to be. Suarez has a team-leading seven home runs, but I watch him take called third strikes too many times to fall in love with him. Winker has a quick bat and has had some bad luck with hard-hit balls going right at the defense, which shifts over to the right side when he’s at the plate. Frazier is hitting a decent .267, but is capable of hitting .300 as he did in 2021 (.305) with Pittsburgh and San Diego combined. So as I take a long look at the Mariners, the biggest problem is the ability to hit with runners in scoring position and a bullpen that is quite a bit worse than the 2021 edition. Maybe the magic managing of Servais will pull the Mariners to the playoffs with a second-half season run like last year. I hope so. And the club will get help when Mitch Haniger is back in the lineup from his high-ankle sprain, and Kyle Lewis is back with the team after a long rehab from injury. Just keep Jarred Kelenic away for the rest of the season. He’s a very good rightfielder, but he has no clue at the plate. … I am amused by the shenanigans of Nick Saban. He’s upset that Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher is recruiting better than him, and blames it on wealthy boosters throwing money at them through the NIL program. He also attacked Deion Sanders at Jackson State, who is attracting top black players to the HBC located in Jackson, Mississippi. Poor Saban, I feel sorry for him that he just can’t snap his fingers anymore and the best of the best players show up at Alabama. Before NIL, major college programs lured the best players in the country through under-the-table deals. Now those deals are out in the open with NIL and even though the program is not supposed to work this way, players are certainly going to go where they can make the most money. Life is like that. It’s always been like that. So if I’m one of the better players in the country and looking to play for a college and College A offers me a car, a free apartment and the ability to make a million or more and College B can’t offer as much, where do you think I’m going?  So get over it Nick. It’s a new world, and you don’t own it anymore. That’s it for today. Stay safe.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.