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Obviously there had been nothing funny about the Braves' predicament before Turner made his quixotic decision. Atlanta pitchers had given up 48 runs during one three-game stretch that included a 23-9 drubbing by Cincinnati in which the Reds scored 12 runs in a single inning. But the sad situation turned into low comedy once Turner, who by his own admission tends to act and talk before he thinks, took over.
In fact, somebody ought to compile a little red book of quotations from Owner Ted. It would surely contain some of his best from last week, which included:
"If you can't do anything else, make a lot of noise."
"Turning around the Braves is like Mission Impossible."
"It [his managing] can't hurt us. It's going to help us in the long haul. I'm learning things. I'll be around for 30 years, until I go to the great baseball diamond in the sky. If there's reincarnation, I'm coming back as a player."
"I bought the Braves for two reasons—to get an autographed ball without pleading for it and to get good seats."
Turner is probably right that his shenanigans did not hurt the Braves on the field. And they certainly paid off at the gate. On Friday night, before that healthy crowd of 20,000, Atlanta lost when Ken Reitz of the Cardinals broke up a scoreless battle in the ninth with a three-run homer. On Saturday, Bristol was reinstated as manager. He had done no scouting, and said he merely hoped he still had the respect of his players. The Braves lost again, giving them a 9-24 record—the worst in baseball—and leaving them 16� games behind the division-leading Dodgers. Yet on Sunday afternoon there were 40,000 fans in Atlanta Stadium to see what would happen next. Surprisingly, the Braves won 15-12.
"I still predict we'll have a World Series here in five years," said Turner.
Chances are that either Turner will have his Series or he'll have installed himself as the cleanup hitter by then.