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Tommy Pham investigated for Joc slap

Tommy Pham is being investigated by Major League Baseball for reportedly slapping Joc Pederson across the face during pre-game batting practice

Jeffrey May
Tommy Pham is being investigated by Major League Baseball for reportedly slapping Joc Pederson across the face during pre-game batting practice
David RichardUSA TODAY Sports

The 2022 baseball season has been all about everything but baseball. The umpires are making headlines, players are getting into bench-clearing brawls over nothing, or at the very least, over the slightest provocation. But this one may take the cake.

In batting practice, yes, you read that right, batting practice, before the Reds Giants game, Tommy Pham reportedly slapped Joc Pederson, à la Will Smith, over a disagreement stemming from a fantasy football league dispute. All of the words in that last statement are true, and every one of them should make you, the reader, cringe in disbelief.

Both teams came onto the field in response, you can hardly call it bench-clearing since they were not even on their benches yet. Tommy Pham was scratched from Cincinnati’s lineup shortly before the first pitch and a Red’s spokesman reported that Pham had agreed to sit out the game pending an MLB investigation.

An MLB spokesperson added, “MLB is investigating the incident that occurred before the game involving Mr. Pham. Mr. Pham agreed to not play this evening, pending the results of MLB’s investigation.”

By all reports, the Reds were taking batting practice before the first game of their three-game home series against the San Francisco Giants, when Tommy Pham confronted Joc Pederson in left field and slapped him on the face. Several players immediately intervened and both clubs’ dugouts and bullpens flooded the field.

Pham was removed from the lineup and Cincinnati went on to win the game 5-1. Afterwards, Pederson was asked about the incident and he said that it “kind of stemmed from a fantasy football league we both were in last year. I put a player on the injured reserve when they were listed as out and then added another player. And then there was a text message in the group [chat] saying that I was cheating because I was stashing players on my bench.

“Then I looked up the rules and sent a screenshot of the rules, how it says that when a player is ruled out, you’re allowed to put them on the IR. That’s all I was doing. It just so happened that he had a player, Jeff Wilson, who was out. He had him on the IR. I said, ‘You literally have the same thing on your team, on your bench.’ ... So it feels very similar to what I did. And that was basically all of it. There’s not much more to it.”

This was apparently the first time that the two players had actually spoken in person. Joc said that, for his part, he doesn’t anticipate the two speaking again. “It’s over, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think I’ll speak to him. I don’t think he wants to speak to me, I would assume. I don’t know. That was, I think, the first time we ever spoke in person. It was a weird interaction and unfortunate. You show up here, and it was hard to lock back in. It was a tough day.

“We haven’t been playing great as a team and then we lose a game. We’re scuffling a little bit, so that just makes things worse. This is an added distraction. You want to eliminate those as much as possible, because this game is so hard. Like I said, we lost and it feels like what happened was unfortunate, but it was still a big distraction to other guys around here. We didn’t play a good game tonight, so if I had something to do with that for being a distraction, then that makes me feel really bad, because I’m here to help this team win, not to be a distraction.”

With players getting sanctioned over far less, expect Pham to have his knuckles rapped over this incident. In a season that is shaping up to be all about the ancillary events rather than the game, this might just win the prize for the most stupid argument ever.


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