NEW YORK — Baseball’s greatest player, the greatest of his generation, Mike Trout faced a bank of television cameras and a handful of iPhone recorders. Finally, after 12 seasons, nine All-Star appearances and three MVP trophies, a stain had appeared on his Hall of Fame resume: He may not be, according to at least one contemporary, the commissioner of fantasy football. the most capable.
“Am I going to quit? I didn’t make that decision,” Trout said Wednesday afternoon before the Angels played at Yankee Stadium. “I don’t know. But all the commissioners I know are always booed.
Trout seemed more amused than ashamed when asked about his handling of Major League Baseball’s most famous fantasy football league, the competition at the heart of a recent dispute between Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tommy Pham and outfielder of the San Francisco Giants Joc Pederson. A disagreement over injured reserve rules and group chat etiquette led Pham to slap Pederson before a May 27 game.
Following the incident, Pham accepted a three-game suspension. The two men spread different versions of the story. Pederson said Pham accused him of manipulating the roster’s rules; Pederson insisted his maneuver was legal and that a Pham himself was using it. Pham suggested that Pederson said “disrespectful bullshit” about Pham’s former team, the San Diego Padres. “That’s right, I sent a GIF mocking the Padres,” Pederson said in response. “If I hurt anyone’s feelings, I apologize.”
Returning from his suspension on Tuesday, Pham revealed another layer of the story. Some of the blame, he explained, fell on the league commissioner. This man, said Pham, was Michael Nelson Trout.
“Trout did a terrible job, man,” Pham said Tuesday. “Trout is the worst commissioner in fantasy sports. Because he let a lot of bullshit slip by and he could have solved it all.
The full roster for the 12-man league, which required a buy-in of $10,000 and carried an additional $10,000 penalty for last, is unclear. Other competitors included former All-Stars like Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, Athleticism reported. Pham said the responsibility of running the league fell on Trout because “no one wanted to be commissioner. I didn’t want to be the fucking commissioner. I have other things to do. He didn’t want to do it. We put it on him.
The job’s ingratitude only became more apparent after Pham publicly mentioned Trout. On several occasions before Wednesday, Trout had declined pleas from Athleticism to discuss his alleged involvement in the league. (Pham reached out to Trout to apologize for leaking his role, according to a person familiar with the conversation.)
Trout would have preferred not to talk about the kerfuffle. But the Angels had previously scheduled a press conference for Wednesday afternoon. This weekend, the team visits Philadelphia, which is near Trout’s childhood home in Millville, NJ. Several reporters had traveled north to ask Trout about the homecoming. Trout said he was thrilled to be playing at Citizens Bank Park again and thrilled with his beloved Eagles’ offseason moves. He was less thrilled when asked about Pham’s comments.
“I’m not talking about fantasy football,” Trout said.
Then, in a sheepish but brilliant way, he started talking about fantasy football. Trout said he spoke with both Pham and Pederson. He attributed the slap to the heightened emotions aroused by the thrill of competition.
“Everyone is competitive,” he said. “Everyone loves fantasy football. Who doesn’t?”
He added: “Tommy, everyone involved in this, is very passionate about fantasy football. Many people put their hearts into it. Me too. I lost this league.
Trout was less open about the details of the argument led by Pham and Pederson. Pham’s initial charge was that Pederson illegally hid someone on injured reserve and picked up an extra player. Pederson countered that Pham was doing the exact same thing with Jeff Wilson Jr. of the San Francisco 49ers. Pham said on Tuesday there was a difference between what was allowed on ESPN’s fantasy football app and the league’s own codified rules.
The Commissioner declined to comment. Did Pederson, as Pham suggested, break the rules?
“I don’t answer their questions,” Trout said.
Was Trout surprised that this story is now entering its sixth day in the news cycle?
“I think you’re the one hanging around,” Trout said.
Could Trout recognize the hilarity of the situation? Pham had just earned a suspension, worth three games on his $7.5 million salary, for fantasy football.
“I’m not commenting on that,” Trout said.
After a while, an Angels spokesperson asked reporters to change the subject. Trout wholeheartedly accepted this suggestion. He couldn’t wait to move on, to a game against the Yankees, to a weekend in Philadelphia, to something other than further investigation into his role in sports’ dumbest history in 2022.
“That’s in the past,” Trout said. “You guys hang around on it. But it’s legendary fantasy football league, that’s for sure.
(Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)