Mike Trout Runs Fantasy Football League From Hell, Joc Pederson Gets Slapped
MLB stars are just like us! Except way more emotional.
Hi readers. Like all of you, I’ve been absolutely devastated by the Uvalde massacre and Senate Republicans’ continued unwillingness to pass common-sense gun reform. I sat down to write about baseball last week and couldn’t. But I do want to highlight the people in the game who decided enough was enough and let the world hear it. Dodgers’ star Mookie Betts led the way:
Current Cardinals’ bench coach Skip Schumaker summed up how most of us were feeling:
We can scream about gun safety until we are blue in the face but it’s hard to feel hopeful about any change. Sandy Hook failed to move the needle, and the NRA didn’t even bother to move or postpone its convention in Houston just days after Uvalde.
Still, something felt different this time, at least in the sports world. Instead of tweeting about the game they were playing against each other, the Yankees and Rays used their Twitter accounts to blast out facts about gun violence in America. It was a tremendous and creative use of their platforms to educate the public and let everyone know where they stood on the issue, even if some in the peanut gallery yelled at them to stick to sports.
Two years ago, I think they would have. The Yankees are still owned by the Steinbrenner family, a clan not exactly known for being liberal. Still, gun violence has transcended politics. Ninety-five percent of Americans are in favor of universal background checks. At some point, we will be too loud to ignore, even if gun-loving senators continue to use gold-plated earmuffs handmade for them by the NRA. The tweets from the Yankees and Rays represent baby steps, of course, but they were important, nonetheless. Both teams should be commended for speaking out when the easiest thing for corporations to do is always remain silent.
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And now for some much-needed levity. Late last week, the Giants were in Cincinnati to play the Reds when Tommy Pham walked up to Joc Pederson before the game and slapped him across the face:
At first I thought it was a joke between two friends. It turned out that Pham was deadly serious. This revealed the dumbest—and most entertaining—feud in MLB since Max Muncy told Madison Bumgarner to go fetch his home run ball out of the ocean. But this kerfuffle wasn’t about baseball at all. No, it seems that Pham and Pederson played in a fantasy football league together last fall and Pham got mad that Pederson (allegedly) improperly used a spot on his injured reserve to stash a player:
Perhaps sensing that he looked like an idiot for slapping a man over a minor fantasy football transgression, Pham then told reporters that actually he was mad that Pederson trashed the Padres in a group chat. (Pham was on the Padres last year. Pederson at that point was a Brave):
OK. I know Pham is being serious here, but it’s hilarious to think that anyone could still be that mad about a fantasy sports situation seven months later to slap someone. Also, the situation involved a Red slapping a Giant for saying bad things about the Padres.
What was the bad thing Pederson said? Like the true blessing he is to all of us, Pederson brought the receipts:
This is truly amazing content and I salute everyone involved. This is not the first time Pham has gotten angry at an opponent this season. Earlier this month the former Padre took exception with a hard slide from current Padre (my head is spinning) Luke Voit into Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson, and challenged Voit to a fight, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.
Pham was suspended three games for slapping Pederson, and perhaps he took a little trip to Vegas to roam around with the other big dogs. This hilarious story had all but died until poor Mike Trout got roped into it on Wednesday after Pham blamed Trout for abdicating his responsibilities as commissioner of said fantasy football league.
Ok, first of all, I’ve been covering this game for 15 years and I’ve never heard of a league made up of baseball players who have never played with each other before. Every baseball team usually has a fantasy football league each fall, and it’s almost always run by a staff member or a nerdy starting pitcher with time on his hands because he only works one day a week. Mike Trout seems like a busy man. He’s the best baseball player in the universe and he has a newborn son. What did Pham think was going to happen putting a GOAT in charge?
Here’s what happened when reporters asked Trout about the incident yesterday, from The Athletic:
Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Mike Trout declined to comment on Wednesday after Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tommy Pham blamed him a day earlier for allowing a fantasy football dispute between Pham and San Francisco Giants outfielder Joc Pederson to escalate. Trout was the commissioner of the league, which had a $10,000 buy-in.
"Every commissioner I know gets booed," Trout said during a press conference before the Angels faced the New York Yankees. "It’s in the past. You guys are a dragging it on. But it’s a legendary fantasy football league, that’s for sure."
Pham called Trout the “worst commissioner in fantasy sports.” For his part, Trout admitted that he only took the job because no one else, including Pham, wanted it.
As a commissioner of both a fantasy football league and a fantasy baseball league, I side with Trout here. It’s a thankless job that often forces me to play referee between two friends. No one has gotten slapped (yet, but people are still mad at me for drafting Aaron Judge in a keeper league in the 25th round before his rookie season). I absolutely believe that Mike Trout might be the worst commissioner in the history of fantasy sports, because he is due to be terrible at something. Still, the biggest loser here is Pham, who will probably never be invited to another fantasy football league again.
The winner? Joc, of course. Our boy got slapped, gave one serious interview after the next about the absurdity of the situation, and was waiting at his locker with the text messages every reporter wanted to see. I have missed this jewel of a man every day since he left the Dodgers, and I hope Giants fans know how good they have it. He always knows how to give the people what they want, whether it’s game-tying playoff dingers off Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer, or colorful gossip exposing one of the league’s biggest hotheads as one of its biggest babies.
I guess I better learn Muay Thai or whatever now, in case we ever cross paths.