Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tommy Pham was suspended for three games by Major League Baseball on Saturday after beating San Francisco Giants outfielder Joc Pederson over a dispute over their fantasy football league.
As the Giants warmed up in outfield ahead of Friday’s series opener, 34-year-old Pham Pederson confronted and slapped him in the face before the pair separated.
Pham said some “patchy” things were going on in the fantasy league on Saturday, and Pederson also made “disrespectful” comments about Pham’s former team, the San Diego Padres.
“We had too much money at stake, so I look at it like there’s a code,” Pham said. Pham also said Pederson “played around with my money.”
Pederson admitted to reporters on Saturday that “there was a lot of money involved” and said Pham was telling the truth.
A candid Pederson even showed reporters the GIF he sent to the teasing Padres players who were in the group chat about their struggles on the field last season. Pederson was with the Atlanta Braves at the time and Pham was playing for San Diego.
“In the group chat there were a few too – there was more than one padre, it was four or five, I’m quite close to some of them,” Pederson said. “It should be a friendly thing, just make fun of them playing badly and just talk back and forth. And yes, [Pham] He didn’t like that and he said, ‘Joc, I don’t know you well enough to joke like that.’”
Pederson read what he wrote back to reporters from his cell phone.
“It was just supposed to be fun and games. No hard feelings. I’m sorry if that’s how you took it.’ And then about two weeks later, after week 4 or 5, he left the league and there hasn’t been any communication since then,” Pederson said. “Like I said, it’s true that I sent a GIF making fun of the Padres and if I’ve hurt anyone’s feelings, I apologize.
“Because they were a really good team. So it was kind of fun to poke fun at the fact that they didn’t play well to make the playoffs with a very talented team,” he explained. “I mean I’ve been teammates with some of them and it should be lighthearted and I understand everyone takes jokes differently. Like I said, I apologize for that and am trying to get over it and show up tomorrow with no distractions and try to help this team win a ball game.
Reds manager David Bell said he spoke to Pham about what happened but declined to share what he said.
Pederson said after Friday night’s game he was accused of cheating for placing a player above an injured player’s replacement in the fantasy football league. Pederson said the player was ruled out for this week, making it a legal move. He said Pham performed essentially the same maneuver with his own team.
“I sent a screenshot of the rules, how it says if a player is banned you are allowed to put them on the card [injured list] and that’s all I did,” Pederson. “He literally did the same thing. That was basically all.”
Pederson said he had no prior notice that Pham might confront him during the series in Cincinnati.
“There was no argument. He kind of came up to me and said, ‘Remember last year?’ and I said, ‘Fantasy football?'” Pederson recalled.
“I just want to make sure we’re ready to play a baseball game today,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Saturday ahead of his team’s 3-2 loss to the Reds. “Joc handled it very well. We can always talk about not being reactionary. He was able to handle everything that happened.”
The scuffle was spotted by reporters and happened before the fans entered the stadium.