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Now, why does that name sound familiar?

Yesterday, I made a note of the FSN-South/Turner South switcheroo. For those that missed the post (and the story in the newspapers), Fox Sports Net purchased Time-Warner's regional sports network, Turner South, and will incrementally rebrand the former Turner South into a second FSN-South sports network (to use a completely redundant description), called . . . well, whatever it will ultimately be called.

The aspect of the change that made all the headlines was the transfer of "talent" (I will use the term loosely, for the benefit of some) broadcasting the Braves' games: for regional telecasts, gone from the TV airwaves is the Turner crew (Skip, Nepotista Chip, Pete, Don, and Joe), to be replaced by FSN-South's duo of Bob Rathbun and Jeff Torborg.

The news is not greeted with plaudits over at Talking Chop:

New owners Fox have taken away the mainstay voices of the Braves - Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren, Don Sutton, Joe Simpson and Chip Caray - and replaced them with the annoying drone of Bob Rathbun and Jeff Torborg. This is the first of many horrible and regrettable moves to come for the soon to be renamed Turner South. The Caray, Van Wieren, and to a lesser extent Sutton and Simpson team have been the voice of the Braves for over a decade. Their calls are the ones repeated on all the replays and highlights spanning this title run. And we are now going to have to listen to the generic mantra of Rathbun and the completely unexciting hum of Torborg. We may have to turn off the tube and turn on the radio.

As a note of full disclosure, I must note that I hold no antipathy toward Bob Rathbun. I grew up in ACC county, and during my childhood, Rathbun was one of the voices on Raycom-Jefferson Pilot Teleproductions' syndicated basketball broadcasts. On the other hand, I've never really heard him do baseball, and I'll acknowledge he's kind of goofy-looking and has a nasal voice.

However, as Talking Chop notes, the FSN-South/Turner South change-up isn't the real story; if anything, it's merely the precursor to the real story---which, strangely enough, could bring back and familiar (and somewhat feared) name from our recent past.

By "our," I mean us, fans of the Nats. You'll see why in a second.

According to Talking Chop:

The real change for the team will be the imminent sale and possible resale of the Braves. Liberty media is essentially doing a swap with Time Warner that involves Time Warner stock, Court TV, a bundle of cash, and the Braves. It's basically a complicated deal in which neither party will pay any taxes. Liberty media will then most likely turn around and sell off the Braves to another interested partner, kind of like what Richard Gere's character did in Pretty Woman. So what we're looking at is the Braves changing hands twice before the year is out.

This context leads to the evaluation of the situation contained in a column by Peter Gammons at ESPN.com:

Few expect that John Malone [Liberty Media] will hold on to the Braves, as his purchase from Time Warner appears to be a tax and asset play. Bud Selig took care of one ally by setting Stan Kasten up in Washington, and no one will be surprised if he doesn't eventually get [REDACTED] into Atlanta once Malone puts the Braves back on the market.

Who is the mystery figure behind my redaction? I'll give you a minute to think about it.

In the meantime---and as you're pondering the answer---I will go ahead and refer to two other bits of context.

  • First, it would appear that the Talking Chop correspondent is apprehensive about this mystery person---and, I would note, perhaps for good reason.
  • Second, it seems that Atlanta Falcons' owner Arthur Blank wants control of the Braves, too, and his prospect seems more palatable to a Braves' fan:
    With Time Warner seemingly already having chosen Liberty Media, the hopes are that Blank will not get discouraged, and that he will still be there in the thick of discussions when Liberty turns around and resells the team.

    Blank is, of course, a local figure who would apparently not be averse to raise payroll or otherwise do what it takes to win (not that the Braves lack for success in recent . . . well, decades). The current corporate overlords, obviously, represent a different mindset.

Okay, back to our friend, [REDACTED]. Give up? Probably not. I suspect you know who it is: none other than Jeff Smulyan.

Now, wouldn't that be an interesting turn of events?