The TV remote was working overtime Friday night. It was an important night for the direction of Atlanta's three major pro sports teams, who have completed 145 seasons and produced one championship. That's 1-for-164 when you add in Atlanta's two NHL stints with the Flames and Thrashers.
Even Cleveland fans get no pity from Atlanta fans.
The hope is that the events of Friday night -- at least sooner or later -- could change that. The Hawks were playing the Brooklyn Nets in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series, while the Braves were playing the Cincinnati Reds. Meanwhile, the second and third rounds of the NFL draft were taking place.
It was an encouraging night for all three.
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Granted, no championships would be won Friday night. But the events could play significant roles in bringing Atlanta its first championship since the Braves won the 1995 World Series.
Let's start with the Hawks. No, it was not a do-or-die game. The Hawks led the series 3-2, so the worst that could happen was they would be assured of going for the clincher at home. But if ever there were a "statement game," this was it.
Even as the Hawks cruised to the best record in the NBA Eastern Conference at 60-22 -- seven games better than Lebron
James' Cleveland Cavaliers -- almost no one outside the team and the fan base has given them any chance of winning the East, let alone the NBA title. Their struggles through the first four games seemed to validate the doubts.
If they had to scrape past the No. 8 seed -- a team that finished six games under .500 -- how could they be taken seriously against the Cavs or Bulls? They responded the way a champion should. They outscored the Nets 41-21 in the third quarter. If they play against Washington the way they played the last two games, the Hawks will reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time.
Yeah, that's still a long way from winning it all. But it's a big step.
Meanwhile, the Braves played the Reds. It was not just one of 162 regular season games. It was the first big league start for a guy who's a big part of their future. Mike Foltynewicz's first game as a Brave was one of the most anticipated debuts in a few years. The night didn't start with much promise for Folty. He was tagged for two runs in the first inning and spared from a three-run homer by a well-timed wind as Marlon Byrd's fly ball died on the warning track.
After that, though, Foltynewicz settled down and showed glimpses of why the Braves deemed him worthy enough to part with Evan Gattis. He has the arm to be a legitimate ace or solid No. 2 starter. He's far from a finished product. But if he does develop, a rotation that includes Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Shelby Miller and Foltynewicz would be good enough to contend for a championship.
And then there was the NFL draft.
The day before, the Falcons had taken Vic Beasley, a pass-rusher from Clemson, over Georgia's Todd Gurley. While the thought of Gurley teaming with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Devin Hester was tantalizing, there's no dispute that improving the defense was paramount, and that started with the pass rush.
Their second and third picks, though, were just as important as the first one. They were able to land two players -- defensive back Jalen Collins of LSU and running back Tevin Coleman of Indiana -- who figure to be immediate upgrades. Most teams rely on throwing the football. Improving the pass rush and defending the deep pass limit the opposing offenses options.
"We said from the beginning our focus was going to be defense," said Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons general manager. "We feel like we have added two very good defensive players that are going to, most importantly, are going to fit into Dan's scheme and his defensive coaches' scheme and their approach. They're long. They're fast. They're very athletic. Then in the third round (we were) able to pull off a running back who is going to be very helpful to this offense to continue to evolve into what we believe it can be."
Who knows where any of this will lead? But the night did provide a healthy dose of hope.
-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org