Photo Credit: Ryan Casey Aguinaldo (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tommy_Pham_1st_inning_at-bat_6.19.21.jpg)
After missing the previous three games due to a suspension handed down by the MLB, Tommy Pham, the Reds’ 34-year-old outfielder, returns to action against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. With any luck, it will be one of the last times we see Pham in a Reds’ uniform.
Since arriving in Cincinnati in late March - just before Opening Night against the Atlanta Braves - Pham has been a bit of a disappointment, and not just on the field but off it as well. On the season, Pham is batting .233 with 5 home runs and 17 runs batted in. His on-base percentage of .335 is decent, considering his batting average is so low. His slugging percentage of .373 is not.
Even if Pham was playing out of his mind - which, may I remind you, he is not - the former St. Louis Cardinal, Tampa Bay Ray and San Diego Padre is not a long-term solution for the Reds. Given some of his erratic behavior as of late, he might not be a short-term solution, either.
For those of you who may have missed it - and I can’t blame you if you’ve pushed the Reds completely out of your minds already - Pham confronted San Francisco Giants’ outfielder Joc Pederson during batting practice on Friday night. He proceeded to hand Pederson a slap sandwich. And by slap sandwich, I mean he full on, Will Smith-style, slapped the sh*t out of Pederson.
Now, you may be wondering, what could Pederson have possibly done to deserve such a powerful, shameful smiting from Pham? Brace yourself for this one: it was over fantasy football. No, seriously. Fantasy football.
It didn’t take long for the MLB to step in, and Pham was handed a three-game suspension, beginning with that night’s game. Pederson, for his part, looked about as stunned and confused as Chris Rock looked when Will Smith handed him a slap sandwich.
As to what this was all about? Well, brace yourself again, because it’s even dumber than you imagined. Apparently, as Pederson explained after the game, Pham was upset because Pederson had placed an injured player on his “injured reserve” spot. As a screenshot from Pederson proved - yes, he pulled out his phone to reporters to prove this - the rules clearly allowed this kind of move. Pham, for whatever reason, wasn’t aware of the rules or misunderstood them, and felt this was unfair, or something. Just to reiterate: the rule is completely allowed.
Here’s how Pham explained it: “"It was this past year. I was in second place when I dropped out of that league. There was a lot of money on that line. I'm a big dog in Vegas. I'm a high roller at many casinos. You can look at my credit line. We were playing big money. I don't have to get into the details of how much, but I look at it like if you lost, you had to pay double. If you came in last place, you had to pay double. So, I looked at it like he was (messing) with my money along with the disrespect."
You’re not alone if you feel like your head is spinning after reading that quote. I mean, why is he talking about his credit line? He’s a big dog in Vegas? Is he drunk?
For a guy who seems to think he’s such a big-shot gambler, you’d think he’d be familiar with the rules. His ramblings don’t even make sense. He says he was in second place when he dropped out, but the last place finisher had to pay double. So, if I’m reading that correctly, and if English is my first language which I’m pretty sure it is, he wouldn’t have been in any danger of paying double anyway. Besides, Pederson made a legal transaction, so how was he messing with Pham’s money?
But just you wait, it gets even better. Aside from the fantasy football kerfuffle, Pham apparently also had beef with a text message Pederson sent to the fantasy football group chat. The message, as confirmed by Pederson’s phone, was a video of three weightlifters, with the logos of the Giants, Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers superimposed over top of them, tossing a weighted bag into the air over their heads. The lifter with the Padres logo is hit with the bag as it falls to the ground.
…and that’s it. Pederson claims it was meant to be a light-hearted jab at the Padres for failing to qualify for the playoffs in 2021, despite being in the driver’s seat for a wild card spot heading into September. Pham, who played for the Padres in 2021, called the message “disrespectful.”
Give me a break. Just a few months ago, Pham was ready to fight Padres’ outfielder Luke Voit after Voit crashed into Reds’ catcher Tyler Stephenson at home plate, giving the Reds’ 25-year-old a concussion. Get a load of Pham after that game: “If Luke wants to settle it, I get down really well. Anything. Muay Thai, whatever. Like I said, I've got an owner here who will let me use his facility. So f--- ‘em. I'm out.”
What in the hell was that? He never mentioned Stephenson once in that rambling nonsense. That’s because Pham wasn’t trying to defend Stephenson, he was trying to let everyone know what a Bad M****r F****r he is, a la Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
I don’t get this behavior. Who is he trying to impress? And why would anyone be impressed that a baseball player knows Mai Tai or Sex on the Beach or Cape Cod or any other adult beverage/martial art?
The Reds don’t need this crap. There has to be dozens of 34-year-old outfielders who can hit .233 on the season while not threatening MLB players with Kung Foo or slapping others because of a stupid fantasy football argument - and one that he was wrong about, no less!
Even after winning two of three against the Giants, the Reds are still tied with the Kansas City Royals at 16 - 31 for the worst record in baseball. They aren’t competing for anything in 2022, except for pride at this point. Pham is actively hurting that effort, on the field and in the pride department. It’s time for the Reds to look for somewhere to unload Pham. At this point, just getting his contract off the books would be worth it. If a team is willing to part with a prospect, even a low-tier one, that has to be considered a win. It’s better than letting Pham continue to embarrass Cincinnati with his bizarre behavior.