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Wednesday, December 14, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Steve Kelley

Why Should We Build The Mariners A Stardome Without Any Stars?

By all means, let's build them a stadium. Retractable roof. Escalators to the stars. Private luxury suites for the well-heeled. Let's come together in a public-private marriage made in heaven.

Let's do whatever the Mariners demand. After all, look what they've done for us.

Give me a second. I'll think of something. There must be some good news.

I mean, it's Wednesday, they haven't yet traded Randy Johnson. Edgar Martinez hasn't been dealt to the Phillies for Randy Ready. They didn't re-sign Pete O'Brien today.

Oh that's right. They signed Lee Guetterman.

THE MARINERS SIGNED LEE GUTTERMAN! THE MARINERS SIGNED LEE GUTTERMAN! THE MARINERS SIGNED LEE GUETTERMAN!

They are about to lose free-agent right fielder Jay Buhner to the Baltimore Orioles. Sometime today he was expected to sign for $16 million over four years.

Forget the home runs in his bat and the assists in his right arm. Forget the public relations blunder. The Mariners just threw up their arms and said we can't afford him. They let him waltz to Baltimore without any sort of serious counter-proposal.

Do you really think it will be any different with the Mariners if the city, the county, the state, you and I, build them a new ballpark?

The year they move in, they'll probably lose Alex Rodriguez to a free agency.

If Buhner goes, can Ken Griffey Jr. be far away? If Buhner goes isn't this house of cards about to fall like so many Kingdome tiles?

By letting Buhner go to Baltimore, the Mariners' practically showed Ken Griffey Jr. the door. You think he'll still be a Mariner after this season?

In true M's tradition, he will be traded to the Atlanta Braves or New York Yankees for a gaggle of prospects.

Where is the gesture of good faith? Where is the commitment to excellence?

They are about to lose Buhner and eventually Griffey and probably Johnson and we're expected to cough up the cash to build them a new ballpark.

How about winning first? How about making your product more attractive? Instead of preaching to us the importance of Major League Baseball to the fabric of a city, how about making your baseball team competitive?

Is one September pennant race in 20 years too much to ask?

What's the sense of building a StarDome, if the Mariners keep losing their stars?

They lost Buhner today and added Guetterman. You do the math.

They took away Buhner, one of their superstar's best friends, and expected Griffey to grin and bear it.

Just add Buhner's name to the list of Mariner mistakes. Mark Langston. Mike Moore. Danny Tartabull. Dave Henderson. Spike Owen, Ivan Calderon, Bill Swift. Mike Morgan, Bret Boone. The ones who got away.

Look what we got in their places. Remember any of these names? Mike Brown? Mike Trujillo? Steve Shields? Ken Dixon? Remember any of these busts? Kevin Mitchell? Steve Trout? Steve Yeager?

We can put this Mariner management team in the hall of shame along with predecessors George Argyros and Jeff Smulyan. They all ask for more, while they all give us less.

They hoard their money, while other teams spend theirs. They laugh at us because they know if we don't build them a stadium, and give them some tax breaks, some suckers in Phoenix or St. Petersburg will.

An orgy of free agent signings has begun. And don't you think, in light of the present labor strife this is all a bit odd?

Pitcher Kevin Gross, who has had three winning seasons in the last decade signed with Texas for $6 million for two years. And second baseman Mark McLemore, who hit a Cooperstown-here-I-come .257 - almost 30 points lower than the year before - signed a two-year, $1.7 million deal with Texas.

Last month, the financially-strapped Pittsburgh Pirates dumped more than a million dollars on left-handed reliever Dan Plesac, whose best seasons were in the late 1980s.

Which is it for the owners? Feast? Or Famine? I have a little trouble believing the famine part.

Buhner is gone and Ken Griffey Jr. won't be far behind. Another sad day for baseball in Seattle.

Want to comment or pass on an idea? You can contact Steve Kelley by voice mail at 464-2176.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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