The Tommy Pham slap, in which Tommy Pham and Joc Pederson had a pregame altercation over a fantasy football league, is truly one of the most bizarre baseball stories ever.
There are many reasons for another inning of the Ken Burns Baseball documentary. In the years between when the last episode aired and today, massive moments in baseball history have occurred from the Astros cheating to the Cubs winning the World Series that you can just visualize in your head being segments.
But there’s one moment that perhaps calls to the Ken Den (or Burns Hive, whichever you prefer) more than any other: Tommy Pham slapping Joc Pederson over a fantasy football league.
If only Studs Terkel, Roger Angell, and Shirley Povich were still alive to comment. Just imagine George Plimpton, with that transatlantic accent, musing about Pham approaching Pederson while flattening his palm and winding up to strike.
Somehow this is a real thing. The Giants and Reds squared off on Friday night in a game that will be remembered more for what happened before a pitch was ever thrown. If you fell asleep early last night, or were glued to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, you might be wondering just what in the actual hell everyone is talking about in regards to The Slap Heard Around The World.
Why did Tommy Pham slap Joc Pederson?
The incident occurred during pregame festivities when Pham approached Pederson and the two engaged in a verbal confrontation. Things escalated to a physical altercation when Pham struck Pederson before the two were broken up.
None of that seems terribly funny or interesting, but the context for The Slap is a plot twist that has M. Night Shyamalan pounding a table in rage that he didn’t think of it first.
This is 100 percent true: Tommy Pham slapped Joc Pederson over an allegation of cheating in a fantasy football league they were in together.
Pederson explained it after the game, saying that Pham accused him of cheating by stashing players on his bench using an IR loophole.
“We were in a fantasy league together,” Pederson told reporters. “I put a player on injured reserve when they were listed as ‘out’ and added another player. And then there was as text message in the group saying that I was cheating because I was stashing players on my bench.”
Wait, so the Tommy Pham slap was all because of fantasy football?
It’s truly the most gloriously unexpected twist to a story. Ken Burns shouldn’t do just a segment on this, he should dedicate an entire inning to the Tommy Pham slap.
Pederson went on to explain that Pham was seemingly doing what he was tossing out an accusation about, which is where things took a turn.
“It just so happened that he had a player, Jeff Wilson, who was out. And he had him on the IR. And I said, ‘you literally have the same thing on your team, on your bench.’ I guess he was in two leagues. In one of them, [Wilson] was on the IR and on the other one he wasn’t. So maybe that was a confusion. But in the ESPN league we were in, [Wilson] was listed as out. So it feels very similar to what I did.”
Poor Jeff Wilson. He was just trying to do his job in a completely different league but now finds himself on the corkboard as we try to unravel the mystery of SlapGate 2022.
Has anyone else commented on the Tommy Pham Slap?
We can only imagine the conversations happening behind the closed doors of each locker room. It’s hard to believe this will lead to anything beyond teammates giving Tommy Pham and Joc Pederson grief, so don’t expect any in-game retaliation as we see in other baseball beefs.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler did speak about the incident after the game. Unlike most everyone else who has been feasting on this story, Kapler wasn’t as amused or tickled by the Tommy Pham slap.
He said he’s going to leave it up to an investigation by the league and won’t bother with it any further.
Did Tommy Pham and Joc Pederson try to work this out before?
Pederson told reporters that he hadn’t spoken to Pham since the allegation of cheating was made in the group chat. In fact, it sounds like the first time they’ve spoken since the incident was in the direct lead up to the slap.
“No, there was no real argument,” Pederson said of the moments leading up to the slap. “He kind of came up and said, ‘You remember from last year?’ And I was like, ‘Fantasy football?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah.’ ”
Will Tommy Pham and Joc Pederson be in a fantasy football league again?
This is truly the biggest question. Can the wounds of SlapGate 2022 be healed enough for the two to be in the same fantasy football league, or will this beef create a rift that tears the fabric of that league apart?
The real question is, what will be the best Tommy Pham and Joc Pederson fantasy football team names this year? You know that’s coming, and you know they won’t all be great, but if there’s one positive that might come out of this Tommy Pham slap it’s that almost every league this year will have a team named in honor of what has to be the most bizarre baseball controversy in history that has nothing to do with the actual game.
So perhaps the greatest question of all is this, which slaps harder: Tommy Pham or the fantasy football team names this bizarre incident inspired?