There was a brief skirmish before Friday night’s baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants. It turns out the scuffle centered around a fantasy football dispute involving 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr.
New broke via the Athletic prior to the game that Reds outfielder Tommy Pham approached Giants outfielder Joc Pederson and slapped him over a fantasy football argument. The incident led to Pham being pulled from the Reds’ starting lineup.
Pederson after the game explained what happened.
“We were in a fantasy league together,” Pederson told reporters via NBC Sports Bay Area. “I put somebody – a player – on the injured reserve when they were listed as ‘out,’ and added another player. And then there was a text message in the group saying that I was cheating because I was stashing players on my bench. And then, I don’t know, I looked up the rules and sent a screenshot of the rules and how it says that when a player’s out you’re allowed to put him on the IR, and that’s all I was doing. And it just so happened he had a player, (49ers RB) Jeff Wilson who was ‘out,’ and he had him on the IR. So I said, ‘you literally have the same thing on your bench.’”
It turns out Pham was in two leagues and Wilson’s injury status was inconsistent between one league and the other one he was in with Pederson.
It’s unclear exactly what rule Pham thought Pederson was breaking, but the ensuing discussion about it in the group chat apparently didn’t satisfy Pham, so he physically struck Pederson now nearly four months after the NFL season ended.
Wilson landing in the center of injury controversy during the 2021 season isn’t a huge surprise. He started the year on the PUP list because of a torn meniscus he suffered early in the offseason program. He missed the first nine weeks of the year, and returned for the 49ers’ Week 10 bout against the Rams.
Given the injury woes in the 49ers’ backfield, Wilson was a popular player to stash on IR slots. He wound up seeing a limited role when Elijah Mitchell was healthy and carried just 79 times for 294 yards and two touchdowns in nine games. Wilson was only really fantasy relevant in Weeks 14 and 15 when he started vs. the Falcons and Titans and posted 155 rushing yards with two touchdowns in those contests.
To add insult to injury for San Francisco on Friday, the Reds pulled out a 5-1 victory. They avenged a 26-23 overtime loss their NFL counterparts in Cincinnati suffered to Wilson’s 49ers in Week 14 last season.