Without mentioning the general manager by name, Robinson makes it clear that he thinks Seghi was at least partly at fault for the mini-mutinies. "The thing that made it difficult was that the players knew I did not have support at the top," he says. "If the players sense that a manager does not have front-office support, he's not going to have full control. And once he doesn't have full control over the players, the situation becomes very, very difficult on the field."
There was trouble in the broadcast booth, too. Announcer Joe Tait rapped Robinson on a local talk show, then repeated his criticism in an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"I don't think Robinson has the mental or emotional capacity to manage well," said Tait. He added, "It's tough for a superstar to communicate with guys of less talent. I just don't think Frank knows how to stir them up the way he stirred himself up when he played."
The old, volatile Robinson might have tried to perform oral surgery on Tait with a microphone, but the calmer, more congenial 1977 model at first refused to comment. However, after he arrived at his home in Los Angeles last week, Robinson decided to defend the brotherhood of superstars.
"In baseball they hang on to clich�s," he said. "This old saying has been around for years—that superstars don't make good managers. Let's take a little deeper look into this. How many superstars have been given an opportunity to manage in the major leagues, and what has been the caliber of talent on their teams? Usually they give a superstar a ball club where the talent is not outstanding, because they feel that his name will attract people to the ball park.
"They say catchers or .200 hitters or minor league players make the best managers, because they are 'students of the game' and are understanding of difficult situations. I've heard just the opposite from top players. 'How can that guy tell me what to do?' they say. 'How can he understand me when he has never been at the level I'm at?'
"I'd like to see an outstanding player step off a big-league roster or wherever and be given a team with talent. Then we'd see what he could do."
Right now Robinson is back at his lovely house in Bel-Air that overlooks a tennis club. He was at the courts for five hours last Friday, but made sure he got home in time to watch Cincinnati play the Dodgers on television.
"I hope someone will call today and want me to be one of their coaches for the remainder of the season," he said. "A hitting instructor or a special type of coach. Next year I'd like to get back into managing, but I'm not going to sit here hoping someone loses his job."
There's no hoping about it, Frank. At the present pace, the rest of the season figures to include one tomahawked manager after another.