Just when we were afraid the owners and general managers had gone on strike, just when we thought they didn't care anymore, one of the brethren, San Francisco owner Bob Lurie, fired manager Frank Robinson on Sunday.
After all, firing the manager when the team is going down the tubes is an accepted part of the national pastime. There were 26 in-season dismissals from 1979 to '83, but so far this season only the Bay Area teams have made changes, Oakland's Roy Eisenhardt giving Steve Bows the ax in May.
As a service to its readers, INISDE PITCH is providing its latest odds on the other managers most likely to be dumped before the season is over:
Vern Rapp, Reds: 4-5; Bob Howsam doesn't want to admit he made a mistake in his first year back as club president, but the natives are restless and the players can't stand him.
Del Crandall, Mariners: 2-1; the Mariners are only eight games out in the AL West, but George Argyros is one of the game's least rational owners.
Joe Torre, Braves: 9-2; Ted Turner just signed him to a two-year contract extension, but Torre has critics in the organization. If the Braves disappear from the race, anything can happen.
Bill Virdon, Expos: 6-1; the Expos may finish under .500, and Virdon could become a September scapegoat. It's been known to happen.