One of the most crushing disappointments of childhood, right up there with the truth about Santa Claus and seeing your father cry, is the realization that you probably don't have what it takes to be a professional athlete. The door on that career path closes early and never opens again, unless, of course, you grow up to be disgustingly rich and powerful.
Because professional sports have never shied from choosing money over dignity, it's entirely possible to grease your awkward slide into professional athletics with hundred dollar bills ... provided they've changed enough sweaty palms to make them slippery.
5 Ted Turner Plays Baseball Manager for a Day
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Let's face it: The whole point of becoming a billionaire is so you can buy a sports team and vicariously live out all of the fantasies you were too slow or chubby to achieve in real life. But what sucks is the "vicariously" part -- even though you get the nicest luxury box and are allowed to hang out in the locker room with the stars, you're not allowed to get directly in on the action. Well, Ted Turner figured if he owns the damned team, who's to stop him from declaring himself manager?
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Or even ... God?
It was 1977, and Turner's Atlanta Braves were a team synonymous with spectacular failure. Two games from the end of the season, they were stuck with a dismal record of 60-100, a 16-game losing streak and they were dead last in the division. While fans hung their heads in shame and thought for certain that things couldn't possibly get any worse, Turner set out to prove them all wrong. He fired then-manager Dave Bristol and announced the role would be filled by an interim coach: himself.
Just to be clear, Ted Turner was the media mogul who revolutionized cable television, founding CNN, TBS and TNT -- nowhere in his long lists of accomplishments is there anything close to coaching a professional sports team. Ted Turner, like most people, probably saw managers sitting at games in full uniform, shooting the shit with players, resting on their own fat guts and thought, "Well hell, I could do that." So he did. He waggled his enormous power in the face of Major League Baseball and inserted himself in the dugout to crash professional baseball players into each other like action figures.
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Money means never having to not act like a 10-year-old.
In an effort to quell everyone's completely justifiable doubt about his ability, Turner said, "If I'm smart enough to save $11 million to buy the team I ought to be smart enough to manage it." Now, in case you didn't know, being a baseball manager is way more complicated than it looks -- that's why guys get paid millions of dollars to do it. So it should surprise no one that Turner lost his first game in charge, handily. He didn't get a second chance to prove himself either because the baseball commissioner forced Turner to take off his uniform and skulk back to his owner's box like a pouty child.
We're not exaggerating, either. His response to being kicked out of the manager position was, "I want to manage even more now because they don't want me to. Everybody takes all this so seriously. This is just like a big little league team to me." And, if you're surprised that Turner didn't just demand they let him take the field as one of the players, well, that brings us to ...