Rant Sports "What If" - Ted Turner Doesn't Sell to AOL/Time-Warner?

By Michael Collins

In January ESPN’s Rob Parker called Atlanta the “worst sports town in America”.  Arguments have been made for and against Parker’s assertion of the south’s capital city, but one thing is certain about Atlanta:

Ted Turner put Atlanta sports on the map, and had he not been strong-armed into selling out to AOL/Time-Warner, things would be very different for all the city’s teams.

The Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers all might have taken a different path if Turner were still an integral part of the sports landscape in Atlanta.

So what if that didn’t happen?  What kind of sports headlines would Atlanta have seen over the past 15 years?  Here we will give you a sampling of fictional headlines and ledes about Atlanta’s professional sports franchises in this alternate reality.

June 25, 1997 – Ted Turner and Atlanta’s Return Bid to the NHL Complete.  Atlanta Chiefs to Take the Ice in 1999

No way would Ted have allowed his hockey team to be named after a wimpy little state bird.  He would have thumbed his nose at the P.C. crowd, and brought back the name of the former Atlanta NASL team.

October 29, 1997 – Atlanta Braves Owner Ted Turner Files Suit Against MLB and Umpire Eric Gregg, Citing Coercion

If Turner still had control, he would have used his bucks to hire a P.I. to find exactly what went on to make Gregg call strikes for Florida Marlins pitchers two feet out of the strike zone against the Braves.

October 27, 1999 – Braves Sweep New York Yankees in Four Games, Earn Second World Championship in the 90’s

Ted Turner would have never allowed his successful Braves club to head into a World Series depending on Keith Lockhart, Randall Simon, Ozzie Guillen, and Mark DeRosa

June 15, 2000 – Dikembe Mutumbo leads Atlanta Hawks to Second NBA Championship in Six Years

Yes, that’s right.  I said it.  Ted Turner would have never let the Dominique Wilkins trade take place had he been in charge by himself, and the Hawks would have wiped the floor with the rest of the league in 1994, and had sustaining success until the turn of the century.

April 24, 2001 – Vince MacMahon Finally Gives in to Turner, Sells WWE and Steps Down

How many of you wrestling fans would have rejoiced in glorious victory to this headline?

Feb 21, 2002 – Ted Turner in Bidding War with Home Depot Founder Arthur Blank to Purchase Falcons from Smith Family

No way would Turner have let the Falcons go up for sale and not at least try to win a bidding war.  In the end, I think Blank still wins, but it would have been compelling to watch.

April 12, 2007 – Turner Brodcasting Renews TBS Deal with Atlanta Braves, Now the Largest Superstation Baseball Audience in MLB

A 25-year deal to broadcast games over four different networks with only a slight cost of living increase in revenue for the team each year?  Ted would have never allowed it.  Braves fans all over the nation would still be able to call them “America’s Team” and the longtime Braves broadcasters would still be under one happy umbrella.

September 28, 2011 – Braves Incredible Run Continues; Wrap up 22nd Straight Division Title

I think this one speaks for itself

The list could go on and on….

Perhaps the Arena Football League would have never shut down.  The free agent misses that the Braves have had over the years would probably have been success stories leading to more championships.  There are some many “could have beens” that would have taken place in the wake of this “What if.”

But most of all, it more than likely would have prevented Rob Parker from ever writing his venomous column about Atlanta and its fans.


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