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Dave Niehaus today celebrated his 73rd birthday today by winning the 2008 Ford C. Frick Award, and with it enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Niehaus has been the the Mariners' primary broadcaster for the entire lifetime of the franchise. He is the voice of the Mariners, and the first thing that many M fans think of when asked about the team.

Like many of us from the Pacific Northwest, I grew up with Dave Niehaus. He taught me to be a baseball fan. I spent many a day and night with my dog, my walkman and some very, very bad baseball. Neihaus is a storyteller of the first degree, and it is his voice I hear in my head whenever I watch a baseball game.

And if you don't catch the reference in the title to this post, you're not a fan.

What the hell?

Being a fan of a minor league franchise is never easy. The teams exist only to feed the major league club's need for players, be they up and coming stars or replaceable spare parts. While we minor league fans love our boys, we also know they can be gone tomorrow. It's just a bit easier for fans of the Rainiers, since Tacoma's best should graduate to the Mariners, just a slow and traffic-filled drive up the highway to Seattle. Alex Rodriguez went from Tacoma to Seattle, so did Felix Hernandez. Adam Jones should have been the same.

But he isn't. Adam Jones, Our Favorite Rainier, will suit up for the Baltimore Orioles next season. He was the prime prospect sent to Baltimore for starting pitcher Erik Bedard. The Mariners sent Jones, reliever George Sherril, and three prospects (Kameron Mickolio – another NR favorite - ,Chris Tillman and Tony Butler) to the Orioles for Bedard. And that just sucks

Don't get us wrong, Erik Bedard is a very fine pitcher. He led the AL in strikeouts with 221 and won 13 games for a terrible Baltimore team. He'll pair with King Felix to form a dynamite one-two punch at the top of the rotation. But Jones ain't so slouch either. The best position player prospect the Mariners have developed since Alex Rodriguez (Ichiro don't count), Jones is a power/speed combination at a prime defensive position. Jones was expected to upgrade an outfield that is looking disturbingly old (Raul Ibanez), property of the Royals (Jose Guillen) and injury-prone Brad Wikerson. Plus, while Bedard is a free agent after the 2009 season, Jones will belong to the Orioles for the next six years.

The biggest drawback of this trade is that it misjudges how close the Mariners are to contending. Yes, the Mariners won 88 games last season, but they did that despite being outscored and featuring near dead zones at first, second and DH. This is not a team one pitcher away from the playoffs. This is a team that should be concentrating on young, cheap talent. You know, like Adam Jones.

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