- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2006

Q: It seems that Frank Robinson’s job may be at stake in D.C. Tony Tavares was not a big supporter but could not fire him (for PR reasons) and the Lerner/Kasten group is noncommittal at this point. Do you think he will be the manager of the Nats next season? Timothy Kapen

A: I don’t, but that’s pure speculation on my part. Like you said, Lerner/Kasten/Bowden have been mum on the subject and don’t figure to make their decision until after the season.

But all the evidence points to Robinson not returning for 2007. He never has completely seen eye-to-eye with general manager Jim Bowden, he just turned 71 and the Nationals are embarking on a youth movement designed to build a championship-caliber ballclub in 2008-2009.

Doesn’t sound like Frank fits into that plan, though we can’t say that for sure until management makes a decision.

Q: How many home runs did Frank Robinson hit at RFK? — Phil Brinkman

A: Robinson hit nine homers at RFK as a member of the visiting Baltimore Orioles from 1966 to 1971, but he’s best known for two in particular.

On June 26, 1970, Frank clubbed a fifth-inning grand slam off Senators right-hander Joe Coleman. One inning later, he duplicated the feat, launching another grand slam off lefty Joe Grzenda.

Two grand slams in two innings. It took 35 years for anyone else to hit a single grand slam at RFK. (Of course, nobody played baseball there for 33 of those years.)

Q: As the stretch run really starts now in both leagues, who will play whom in the first round of the playoffs? And do you think Detroit is the AL favorite and the Mets the NL favorite because they have the best records? — Tom Lippman

A: Well, there’s still plenty to be decided over the next month, but let’s go out on a limb and say the AL division winners will be the Tigers, Yankees and Athletics, with the Twins edging out the defending champion White Sox for the wild card. That means Detroit would play Oakland and New York would play Minnesota in the first round.

In the wacky NL, the Mets have all but wrapped up one division title, and the Cardinals and Dodgers figure to take the other two. The wild-card race is an absolute mess, but at this moment I like the Phillies. So in that scenario, you’d have New York and Los Angeles in one division series, St. Louis and Philadelphia in the other.

As far as favorites are concerned, you have to consider the Mets the odds-on favorite to win the NL pennant. Not because New York is that great, but because the rest of the league is that bad. I don’t know that I’d consider the Tigers the AL favorites, though, because of their inexperience. The Yankees are always formidable in October, and watch out for the Twins (provided Francisco Liriano is healthy).

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