Hal Bodley & Vince Naimoli: Someone Get The Hook

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One of the more annoying aspects of Tampa's miracle turnaround is the media's insistence on trying to send some of the credit back to the assorted boobs and incompetents that used to run the team. I already tore Chuck LaMar apart for his "hey what about me" cred grab. This week's guilty party is cranky old MLB doofus, Hal Bodley. Come along with me and marvel at the gall Bodley displays in praising former penny pinching owner, Vince Naimoli.

The first time I met Vince Naimoli was in August 1992 at a crowded Tampa International Airport coffee shop. The millionaire entrepreneur had just signed a $115 million deal with owner Bob Lurie to buy the San Francisco Giants and move them to St. Petersburg.

Naimoli was giddy and in a hurry that night. He talked about growing up in Paterson, N.J., and being a passionate baseball fan: "It was always the New York Giants."

Naimoli's enthusiasm quickly waned when he had the rug pulled out from under him a few weeks later. The National League put the Lurie-Naimoli deal on hold, deciding to consider offers from other investors who would keep the Giants in San Francisco.

Is he serious? This is the lede? This is supposed to endear this creep to us? Poor guy "had the rug pulled out from him" because he couldn't uproot an entrenched fanbase. It's too bad it was only a rug and not a second story patio.

As I follow the Tampa Bay Rays' unbelievable Cinderella ride this summer, the mind always wanders back to that night with Naimoli in 1992. For me that's where the Rays' marvelous season began.

I guess technically, but for most rational people it begins when Naimoli finally released his icy grip on the team and ceded control to Stu Sternberg. Bodley asserts that's Naimoli once "pumped money into the payroll" by signing Canseco, Boggs, Vaughn et al. The actual payroll still hovered somewhere around the modest $50M mark and the whole time he made specious claims that the team was losing money.

The bottom line is that while the old Naimoli/LaMar regime was in power, it was never good to be a Rays fan. They watched Arizona enter the league at the same time, and eventually claim a world series, while their team never moved one inch past expansion status. When they left, success arrived.

Yes, Vince Naimoli brought baseball to Tampa. What did he do with it after that? Nothing.


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9 Comments

Thank the good Lord for Peter Magowan.

I can't believe I said that. Out loud. Sorta.

*looks around*

I swore I heard Ken Tremendous for a second!

The thing is, if you sucked Vince Naimoli's ... Ray for 15 years, it's apparently hard to stop.


It's kind of like the makers of Stove Top thanking the English Monarchy for driving people out of England.

I'm kinda interested in this Hamburger Helper article in that issue of Weekly Planet.

Since I quite my last job the company had been doing really well. I take all the credit.

aparently it was all the spelling mistakes that was keeping them down.

You all just better "know who Vince Naimoli is":

http://www.sptimes.com/2004/08/03/Tampabay/Officer__Naimoli_thre.shtml

and you don't even THINK of going where he "goes":

http://www.sptimes.com/2005/04/10/Rays/Toilet_trip_earns_lif.shtml


There shouldn't be a debate on whether Vince Naimoli was responsible for St. Petersburg getting a major league franchise. There was groundwork laid by many others but the Tampa Bay area lost out every time they attempted to obtain a franchise until Naimoli found a way (S.F. Giants) to corner MLB (lawsuits) into giving the Tampa Bay area the Devil Rays. Chuck LaMar should also be credited for signing some of the talent that now graces the Rays ML roster. Like Naimoli/LaMar or not, both should receive at least a small percentage of the credit for building the foundation of the franchise.

Truthfully, the biggest concern during year 11 of the Rays existence should be some members of the media's continued insistence on referring to TAMPA BAY'S team as Tampa's team. I find it difficult to consider a writers thoughts on a subject as credible if he/she can't include the correct name of the subject they're writing about.

I didn't debate that Naimoli brought baseball to Tampa BAY/St. Pete. In fact, I state it plainly in the last sentence of the piece. What is bunk is the implication that people are discounting the "contributions" of Naimoli/LaMar to the Rays' current success.

And if you think people confusing Tampa with Tampa Bay was the biggest problem in the first 11 years of Rays baseball, then you are quite the optimist. Which is a good thing. Thanks for reading.

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