If you see a group of players from two teams running into the outfield grass during batting practice, chances are something is probably happening.
And boy was it happening in Cincinnati.
Players have had disputes in baseball since its inception, and in the heat of competition, there are going to be disagreements. But what transpired between Giants outfielder Joc Pederson and Reds outfielder Tommy Pham last Friday might be an all-timer.
Pham was not pleased by a series of moves made by Pederson in their fantasy football league, so he slapped Pederson during BP before Friday’s series opener. Pham also disapproved of Pederson’s jokes about the Padres, Pham’s former team.
"He kind of came up and said like, ‘You remember from last year?’” Pederson told reporters. "And I was like ‘fantasy football?' He was like, ‘Yeah.’
“It was an unfortunate situation over a fantasy football league rule that wasn’t a rule.”
Pham, who was given a three-game suspension by Major League Baseball, has never been one to mince words. He didn’t deny the altercation, nor the role he played in it.
“I slapped Joc. He said some (expletive) I don’t condone. I had to address it,” Pham explained. “He said some disrespectful (expletive) in a text message and I called him out on it. … It was regarding my former team. I didn't like that and I didn't like the sketchy (expletive) going on in fantasy. We had too much money on the line.”
The story, at face value, didn’t sound real after initial reports emerged about the incident. It’s almost like a story you would make up to keep the real disagreement from coming out. But both Pederson and Pham spoke candidly. Pederson even showed reporters the group chat in which he made a joke that Pham did not take kindly.
There are a lot of moments we’ll remember about the 2022 MLB season, but this story will surely be the oddest. In the words of Charles Barkley, “I guarantee it.”
As for actual baseball being played, the Reds are trying to change the narrative about their season. Since starting 3-22, they’ve gone a respectable 13-9. Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Pederson’s Giants gave Cincinnati a season-best four-game win streak.
Our MLB Power Rankings noticed the Reds’ turnaround, and for the first time this season, Cincinnati no longer occupies the No. 30 spot. At the top of the rankings, the Dodgers leapfrogged the Yankees to return to No. 1.
MLB Power Rankings
Rankings are determined by staff vote
Records and statistics are through May 29
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (33-14, Last week: 2): Bad news for the other 29 teams on this list. Freddie Freeman looks comfortable playing in L.A., and Mookie Betts is back to playing like the best player in the world. Unlike last season, the National League West looks like it might be a one-team race by the trade deadline.
2. New York Yankees (33-15, LW: 1): Nestor Cortes Jr. has been one of the season’s best storylines, having emerged as the front-runner for the American League Cy Young award. With Cortes continuing to roll and Aaron Judge seemingly hitting a home run every night, the Bronx Bombers are putting the rest of baseball on notice.
3. New York Mets (32-17, LW: 3): They’ve played like a top-five team all season long. But with the top half of the rotation currently sidelined, Jacob deGrom telling reporters he feels “completely fine” while working his way back from a shoulder injury has people in Queens rejoicing.
4. San Diego Padres (30-17, LW: 4): They keep rolling without Fernando Tatís, their best player, and have to be thankful they didn’t move Eric Hosmer this offseason. Third baseman Manny Machado is once again an MVP candidate.
5. Houston Astros (30-18, LW: 5): It doesn’t make sense what Justin Verlander is doing at 39 years old. After not pitching for two seasons, he’s back to being the Astros’ ace, and his stuff looks great. Some things never change.
6. Milwaukee Brewers (26-15, LW: 8): The Brewers have remained one of the top NL teams despite the absence of shortstop Willy Adames, who’s been out with a high ankle sprain. Their starting staff also took a hit with the injury to Freddy Peralta, but with Eric Lauer thriving and Aaron Ashby the rotation, they don’t look to be slowing down.
7. Minnesota Twins (29-19, LW: 6): They’re getting bitten by the injury bug, losing top prospect Royce Lewis to the 10-day injured list on Monday. But playing in the AL Central gives them time to figure things out.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (28-19, LW: 13): Their offense hasn’t come around yet, but left-hander Shane McClanahan looks like he’s going to be a good one. His 81 strikeouts leads all of MLB.
9. Toronto Blue Jays (27-20, LW: 11): The Blue Jays completed a sweep of the Angels in Anaheim with Sunday’s 11-10 victory. After a stumbling start, Toronto has won five straight games.
10. St. Louis Cardinals (26-21, LW: 7): While Cardinals fans have enjoyed MVP starts from Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, there’s another Nolan starting to make noise. With Nolan Gorman, the glove is going to be a problem, but the bat may put him into the NL Rookie of the Year conversation.
11. Los Angeles Angels (27-22, LW: 9): Mike Trout is healthy, and he’s doing Mike Trout things. If he keeps this up, there’s going to be a fourth AL MVP award on his mantle.
12. San Francisco Giants (25-21, LW: 10): They just finished a series against the Reds where a fantasy football league dispute made the biggest headlines.
13. Boston Red Sox (23-25, LW: 16): There may not be a hotter hitter in baseball than Trevor Story. He started out ice cold, but over the last 2 1/2 weeks, he has slugged nine homers with a slugging percentage north of .700. If the Red Sox hope to get back in the AL East race, they’ll need Story to keep producing.
14. Chicago White Sox (23-23, LW: 12): The White Sox are probably the biggest disappointment of the season thus far. They don’t play good baseball and just lost their catalyst Tim Anderson to a groin injury.
15. Atlanta Braves (23-25, LW: 18): The Braves have had some bad luck with young starting pitchers, especially after Mike Soroka’s Achilles tears. But former No. 5 overall pick Kyle Wright has tapped into some of that potential with a 2.68 ERA in nine starts.
16. Texas Rangers (22-24, LW: 20t): It took 44 games, but Marcus Semien finally hit his first homer of the season. He’s too talented not to hit better than his current slash line of .196/.258/.268.
17. Arizona Diamondbacks (23-26, LW: 15): Zac Gallen has long been one of the best kept secrets in the NL, and after some struggles last season, he’s returned to being a hidden gem. The D-backs aren’t ready to contend in the NL West, but they’re bringing up some of their top prospects like Alek Thomas to the big leagues.
18. Philadelphia Phillies (21-27, LW: 14): The Phillies went all-in on offense last offseason, but they’ve yet to see a return on their investment. What they have seen is awful defense. Not only are the Phillies routinely on nightly lowlight reels, but they are also currently minus-27 in defensive runs saved, which ranks last in MLB.
19. Cleveland Guardians (19-24, LW: 19): Josh Naylor was once a top prospect, and after several challenges, he’s putting together an All-Star caliber first half. He and José Ramírez have helped the Guardians continue to be relevant.
20. Colorado Rockies (21-26, LW: 17): It started well for the Rockies, but the only thing that has gone right for them recently is their City Connect jerseys. Free-agent signing Kris Bryant came back from the IL earlier this week and went right back to the IL two games later. Not good.
21. Baltimore Orioles (20-29, LW: 23): It’s gonna be the Adley Rutschman show for a long time for an Orioles club that’s playing good baseball. They don’t have the talent to make it all work yet, but they are slowly making strides.
22t. Miami Marlins (19-26, LW: 20t): Sandy Alcántara and Pablo Lopez form an elite duo at the top of Miami’s rotation. With Alcántara locked into a new extension, the Marlins rotation looks strong for the future.
22t. Chicago Cubs (19-27, LW: 24): After seeing Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo all get traded at the deadline last season, Cubs fans have to be wondering if the same fate lies ahead for Willson Contreras.
24. Seattle Mariners (20-28, LW: 22): They’ve disappointed through the first two months of the season. Even the emergence of Julio Rodríguez hasn’t sparked them.
25. Pittsburgh Pirates (19-27, LW: 27): Pittsburgh native David Bednar looks like one of the better relievers in MLB. He was one of the best stories in baseball last season, but it’s hard to imagine him pitching in his hometown much longer.
26. Oakland Athletics (20-30, LW: 25): Right-hander Frankie Montas didn’t get moved like his former teammate Chris Bassitt. But with the way he’s pitching (3.28 ERA, 66 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings), he will be on the radar of lots of teams.
27. Washington Nationals (18-31, LW: 29): They still have Juan Soto, but that’s the only thing they have going for them right now.
28. Detroit Tigers (17-29, LW: 26): It’s Memorial Day and 39-year-old Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers’ best hitter. That’s a really big problem.
29. Cincinnati Reds (16-31, LW: 30): Don’t look now, but the Reds have won seven of their last 12 games and have climbed out of our rankings cellar for the first time this season. Anything is possible.
30. Kansas City Royals (16-30, LW: 28): It took a little while, but Bobby Witt Jr. looks like the player we all thought he would be. The former No. 1 overall pick is slashing .298/.349/.719 over his last 15 games.