The internet lets sports fans tease and taunt nearly everyone directly, from opposing players to their own mascots: just @ them. But the front office is a notable, and large, exception - the people pulling the strings (and purse strings) are normally absent from social media.
Which means, when the Phillies swooped in this past offseason to hire Joe Girardi and sign Zack Wheeler away from hopeful Mets fans, their fans needed to get creative with their venting.
Enter Venmo, and Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
Dozens of fans began swarming Van Wagenen's account on Venmo, the user-to-user app used to directly exchange money through smartphones, offering financial support for the stingy franchise, according to a story Thursday from the New York Times' James Wagner.
They were particularly angry at being bested (twice!) by the Phillies:
"There was only one logical response in Frankie Wlton's mind. When Wilton, a lifelong Mets fan, read that his favorite team hadn't made an offer to re-sign pitcher Zack Wheeler, who instead joined the rival Philadelphia Phillies on a five-year, $118 million deal in December, he opened his cellphone and scrolled to Venmo. (...) After Wilton futilely searched Venmo for the Mets' principal owner, Fred Wilpon, and his son Jeff, the team's chief operating officer, he was surprised to find General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen on the app. Wilton sent him one cent with a tongue-in-cheek message: "Spare change for the poor."
"'Hire Girardi and bring back the black jerseys,' wrote a fan named Dan Healy when he sent Van Wagenen money via Venmo on Oct. 17, a week before Girardi was hired by the Philadelphia Phillies."
How New York, right? Where Philadelphia sports fans hit their teams with boos, NY fans hit their teams in the wallet. (Philly fans also hit their GM with glam-rock, but that's another story.)
Interestingly, Phillies fans have felt the same kind of penny-pinching ire this offseason, despite landing an ideal manager and signing Wheeler to a nine-digit contract.
Managing partner John Middleton was briefly painted this offseason as actively avoiding the luxury tax by not pursing a blockbuster trade for the Rockies' Nolan Arenado and/or the Cubs' Kris Bryant, two difference-making players who would cost a pretty penny. A quick Twitter search for the #PayTheTax hashtag turns up plenty of perturbed Phillies fans.
Middleton said in October he wouldn't want to dip into the tax just to be a postseason afterthought. President Andy MacPhail said earlier this month (see story) that while the team is "not reluctant to go over" the tax line, they want to think about how it would impact the team for the next few years, not just one season, because of the compounding penalties.
It's understandable... but, considering the Harper investment, Phillies fans also want a title run sooner rather than later.
However, Phillies fans, take some solace: while you still may want ownership to #PayTheTax, at least you're not scouring Venmo for @JohnMiddleton to vent your frustrations.
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