TOP OF THE TOWN ‑ It might be offensive to talk about the offense of the Seattle Mariners. Yet, that’s about what I aim to do. So sue me. I have seen too much of this baseball franchise playing the sport, first at the Kingdome and now at T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field). For most of the first 18 years of this franchise (1976-94) what I watched was terrible baseball, although I didn’t know the difference because what you normally see is what you come to believe is normal (kind of like listening to 45 lie over and over until you begin to believe the lie). This story has nothing to do with the inept offense of 2020, but for those who don’t remember the Mariners had a lot of trouble in those early terrible years of finding a decent left fielder and third baseman, although the always angry Phil Bradley was a pretty good leftfielder. One year, and I don’t remember now which year, the Chicago White Sox were visiting in the Kingdome and halfway through the first game it suddenly dawned on me, “That’s what a professional third baseman looks like” as I watched Robin Ventura. Ventura authored a 58-game hitting streak at Oklahoma State and earned six Gold Glove awards and is in the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. Anyway, I watched Ventura that day and he made outstanding defensive plays at third one after the other and finally I woke up and said to myself the above quote. I was shocked into reality because I had never seen a third baseman play so well. Edgar Martinez even played third when he first came up from the minors to the Mariners. One of my worse moments came a year after Edgar committed four errors in a game and I stupidly reminded him of that during an interview I had with him. He quickly admonished me, and I deserved it, for bringing it up. I still shake when I think about it. I’m shaking now. But let’s go back to the current offensive woes of the Mariners. The current roster only has three, maybe four guys, who can hit consistently. First baseman Ty France, shortstop J.P. Crawford, centerfielder Julio Rodriguez and maybe catcher Cal Raleigh, who is beginning to show signs of the player he was in the minors where he hit and hit with power. But you got game-rally stoppers elsewhere, including the new guys general manager Jerry Dipoto brought in to perk up the offense in Jesse Winker, Adam Frazier, Abraham Toro and third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Winker is a good-eye, quick bat who can’t seem to hit anything over the middle of the plate, Frazier is a banjo hitter, good for bouncing into double plays, Toro has warning track power and hits way too many fly outs to the outfield and Suarez is a .235 hitter with tremendous power who leads the team in strikeouts at 91 entering today’s game (June 19). Suarez is batting .229 with team-leading 12 homers, Toro is hitting .168), Winker is at .210 and Frazier is batting .228.  Hitting with runners in scoring position is a joke with this team. The Mariners are last among MLB teams by leaving 7.43 runners on base per game. It’s a killer stat. It’s getting so bad that when an opponent grabs a 1-0 lead I’m already thinking this game is over. Seattle is averaging 3.94 runs per game, which is 26th among the 30 MLB teams. Only Kansas City, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Detroit are worse. It’s becoming clear that the lack of money is the main villain in all of this. Paying top dollar to bring top talent here is a non-starter. Ownership just is not cooperating. The total payroll is just under $1 million. They are 22nd in payroll among the 30 teams. It appears that Dipoto, God bless him, has to dig deep to find players that fit into the budget and can play the game a little. His job is like a homeless man going into the back alley and digging through garbage until he finds a food item that is not spoiled and can be eaten without dying. I think opposing GMs are taking advantage of him, knowing his budget restraints. They trade him players that are functional, but not great. Have you wondered as I have why Toronto let Robbie Ray go through free agency? He’s a Cy Young winner. Why would the Blue Jays let him go? They obviously didn’t think he was worth the money the Mariners offered (five years, $115 million).  They were right. Ray is a good pitcher, not a great pitcher. Is he worth $115 million? Probably not. But Dipoto had a chance to make a big splash and he did. For a franchise that is low on budget resources, it was a big gamble and was not worth it. If Ray was worth it, he would still be a Blue Jay…. One more thought, and it’s not sports related. How the hell is 45 still holding the GOP by the throat and why is he still popular among rural voters? The man is a Stalin, a Putin, a Kim Jong-un, a Xi Jinping and Assad. He is bent on destroying democracy. He’s the world’s all-time grifter and conman. He’s living the good life. He’s free. He shouldn’t be. Yet, he is. We are at a crossroads. If 45’s party gains control of Congress, we are doomed. And you can take that to the bank. That’s enough. Stay safe. And vote blue in the midterms in November. It’s the last hope of democracy.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.