The New York Mets’ lack of splashy free-agent signings over the winter had their long-suffering fans making sure the team had enough money to even operate.
When the Mets let pitcher Zack Wheeler sign a five-year, $118 million deal with their rival Philadelphia Phillies in December, The New York Times reported Thursday some took it upon themselves to use the Venmo app to send money to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
“So many of the issues with this team throughout my life as a fan have just stemmed from finances, and I guess this was the only tool that I had,” Mets fan Frankie Wilton, who sent Van Wagenen one penny, told The New York Times. “You can write a letter, you can make a phone call or make some sort of public spectacle but none of that has to do directly with finances like Venmo does.”
Venmo allows people to send money to one another. Usually, the transfer of funds is between friends or roommates for rent, bar tabs or just to pay back an I.O.U. But fans began to pester Van Wagenen with messages to sign Anthony Rendon or hire Joe Girardi as their manager. Rendon eventually signed with the Los Angeles Angels and the Phillies hired Girardi.
“I’m sort of embarrassed: I’ve never used Venmo,” the Mets general manager told the newspaper. “And at the time, I didn’t realize I had a Venmo account until some of the emails and notifications started coming through.”
New York didn’t make any major moves this offseason. The team signed Michael Wacha, Rick Porcello and Dellin Betances. The team is also expecting Yoenis Cespedes to return at some point this season.
The Mets were only three games out of the second wild-card spot.
While New York didn’t elate fans with free-agent signings, they could find some solace in younger fans paying attention to the team. Venmo reached 40 million users last year. According to Media Post, 82 percent of users are between the ages of 18 to 34 while 50 percent of Venmo users are between 25 and 34.
The team appears to still be attracting fans whether it’s in anger or joy.