I want to open up a line of discussion that commenter Sam raises in an earlier thread regarding a devoted group of Devil Rays fans at vincemustgo.com. In all of my snark about the "Shell Schilling" anti-promotion (come on guys, Curt may not even be at the game, so maybe a "Yap at Youk" endeavor would be more appropriate?), there is a serious question here: how do fans best exercise their collective power (arguably limited and always splintered) over an "evil ownership". Do fans really have any say in whether an owner relinquishes a team? Or is VMG only symbolic, a cathartic enterprise for a group of devoted and caring fans? In Boston, when John Harrington was acting on behalf of the Yawkey Trust, there were countless fans crying for him to just put the team up for sale, to move on, to get someone in place who could move the team forward with a goal in mind, beyond simply "maximizing value". Harrington continually proclaimed he would do so on his terms, because of his fiduciary duty to the Trust (an important legal responsibility, no doubt), but he moved at a snail’s pace and there were many questions about his motives behind holding onto control of the team. So here was a guy holding up a sale for reasons both economic and egotistical, and he didn’t even own the club! A formal fan organization decrying Harrington’s egotism wouldn’t have goosed him to sell any quicker, and I don’t know if any confluence of public pressure, economics, or politics finally inspired him to move the team for the Trust. He did it on his terms, in the interest of the trust and not the fans (though it worked out just fine for us), such was his position of power.
So Sam’s point is well-received and understood here; the devoted Devil Rays fans deserve (as all of us paying fans do, to some extent) an ownership that has more than just their pocketbooks in mind. This is why, though I think George Steinbrenner is a world class pr*ck, a megalomaniac, and an unfairly pardoned felon I would never accuse him of being a "bad owner" the way say, I know that Jeremy Jacobs of the Bruins is a bad owner (the worst around, perhaps). The question is: where do fans get their power over ownership? Do they even have any to begin with? And when Naimoli moves on will it be a victory for the VMGers and the town of Tampa, or will it simply be Vince realizing that he’s at a point where he can maximize his profits or best minimize his losses?