After a fundraising campaign that raised over $5,000, Mets fan Gary Palumbo is planning to put two anti-ownership billboards up on Roosevelt Avenue – right by Citi Field – on Opening Day.
Palumbo, a 39-year-old from New Hampshire, told the Wall Street Journal why he decided to push for the billboards:
"I’m tired of kvetching on social media, I’m pissed about this. Everyone’s pissed about this. Why don’t we do something about it? I want to raise our voice a little bit."
Palumbo, who is on Twitter @MetsBillboard, tweeted on Thursday night that he had also purchased the URL MetsBillboard.com, saying it’s one less thing the Mets own. However, Palumbo was uncertain if he would do anything with the URL.
The exact wording of the billboards, which will be determined by a fan vote, will either be “sell the team” or “new owners needed.”
Once up, the signs will be in place for four weeks.
The Mets responded to news of the planned billboards in a statement, saying “We appreciate our fans’ passion and are looking forward to the 2015 season.”
Personally, I don’t have a strong opinion either way regarding the billboards.
As Palumbo himself points out, the odds of these billboards having any impact on ownership are slim. Still, negative publicity is never a good thing, and this is obviously something Mets ownership would rather do without.
What’s happened to the team’s payroll over the last five years or so, dropping about $65 million dollars before starting to slowly tick back up, is inexcusable and embarrassing for a team playing in the New York market. While the lowered payroll is a result of the team’s failed investments with Bernard Madoff, not a refusal to spend excess money they have, it doesn’t make it excusable.
While team owner Fred Wilpon is a figure many don’t have hatred toward, the same can’t be said for Fred’s son and team COO Jeff Wilpon, whose tone deaf behavior and reported meddling when it comes to certain player moves rubs many the wrong way.
Recently, Jeff Wilpon was accused of sexual discrimination and wrongful termination, embarrassing the franchise further in the process.
New owners would be a welcome sight, but there’s no belief that new commissioner Rob Manfred will put any more pressure on Mets ownership than former commissioner Bud Selig did.
It will be interesting to see if these billboards are a blip, or if they lead to a bigger movement on the part of the fans.
Either way, if the team wins, no one will care what the payroll is.