New England 36, Atlanta 1.
This is not a Super Bowl prediction. This is a score revealing Boston’s dominance over Atlanta on the football field, baseball diamond, basketball court and hockey rink.
Boston’s major sports teams have won 36 championships since 1900. Atlanta has won one. It’s a remarkable disparity that suggests Somebody Up There either has (A) an affinity for Boston, (B) an intense dislike of Atlanta, or (C) both.
The score is 36-1. I’m going with (C).
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Atlanta’s lone championship came in the 1995 World Series, when the Braves beat Cleveland. Until their 1953 relocation to Milwaukee, the Braves were the Boston Braves, famous for the worst-to-first turnaround that found the 1914 Word Series winners in last place on July 4.
From the Believe It Or Not file: The Braves won as many championships in Boston as they have in Atlanta.
Something else from the Believe It Or Not file: Of Boston’s four remaining major sports teams — the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins — the Patriots have collected the fewest league-championship trophies. They’ve got four, or seven less than the Celtics earned during a 13-year span between 1957 and 1969.
That remarkable run was interrupted, in 1958, by a franchise known now as the Atlanta Hawks. They were the St. Louis Hawks back then. The Hawks, who moved to Atlanta in 1968, haven’t returned to the NBA Finals in 58 years, a drought exceeded only by the Kings.
How does a franchise remain stagnant for almost six decades? It’s easy. Just misfire, year after year, on college prospects. Since 1980, Hawks’ draft picks eventually selected for the NBA All-Star Game can be counted on one hand, with a finger to spare.
And yet, the Hawks are a success story compared to their former NHL co-tenants. The Flames, born in 1972, ditched Atlanta for Calgary in 1980. Atlanta was granted a subsequent expansion franchise, the Thrashers, in 1999. They moved to Winnipeg in 2011.
Hockey is an acquired taste Atlanta sports fans were disinclined to acquire, much less taste. Hilarity occasionally ensued.
The late Skip Caray, who spent the brunt of his career as a baseball broadcaster for the Braves, once was assigned to call a Flames game on the radio. It was a last-minute situation — the regular play-by-by guy was ill — and Caray had no time to do any homework associating names with numbers.
The son of Harry Caray — he inherited his dad’s mischievous streak — Skip used the names of old high school buddies to identify Flames opponents with names he couldn’t pronounce.
Nobody was onto Caray’s ruse, because nobody was listening. Atlanta was, is, and forever will remain a college football town where the Atlantic Coast Conference intersects with the Southeastern Conference.
Georgia Tech’s campus borders downtown. The University of Georgia, 70 miles east of Atlanta, is an hour’s drive away except on those six or seven autumn Saturdays when the Bulldogs are home, in which case it’s a 17-hour drive.
As for the Falcons, Atlanta fans traditionally have followed them more in a spirit of toleration than adoration. When the 1998 Falcons finished 14-2 and advanced to the Super Bowl, it was their fourth winning season in 20 years.
The showdown against the Broncos was a Murphy’s Law train wreck: Whatever could go wrong went very wrong, and the Falcons began extended hibernation that follows Super Bowl clunkers.
Come Sunday, a team representing a city with one major-sports championship will take on a team representing a city with 36 of them.
My plea to Somebody Up There: Spread the wealth, and if you’ve got any questions, find Skip Caray.
I suspect he’s in the neighborhood, and I know he’ll figure it out.
John McGrath: @TNTMcGrath