It’s a horrible story we are revisiting.
And now the additional details make the tragedy even more horrific for baseball.
The death of Angels star pitcher Tyler Skaggs is back in the spotlight, and the glare on the shadows of baseball are worse than imagined.
The DEA report that Skaggs overdosed from his addiction to painkillers is bad enough.
Now even worse the revelation that an Angels staff member, former PR Director Eric Kay, was the drug runner, the liaison, the mule, who secured Oxycodone and Fentanyl, and even shared the drugs with the pitcher, before Skaggs death has shaken baseball’s foundation.
At this moment, nothing brings Skaggs back to life. Kay, a 24-year employee, has been in rehab three times this year.
The revelations, obtained thru Skaggs cell phone, of text messages about drug purchases Kay made, and where the meetings took place to deliver the illegal meds to the pitcher, are staggering.
The Angels, owned and run by a man of enormous integrity, Arte Moreno, have been staggered by all this, that this could be happening in their stadium, in their clubhouse, in the team hotel, and yet no one noticed.
And now baseball’s leadership, Commissioner Rob Manfred and Union Chief Tony Clark, need to join hands and find a way to change the collective bargaining agreement.
Baseball needs to get its head out of the sand and realize that opioid drug abuse is everywhere. Not just in Dayton, Ohio or Grand Rapids, Michigan. Not in the back hills of West Virginia or Kentucky. Not just in Harlem or Watts.
Now it’s on a roster, in the on-deck circle, hidden in dark shadows of the tunnel leading to the clubhouse.
Baseball needs to be proactive and create a drug testing program, random sampling anytime in season, for all rosters of all teams.
Do not walk about the stadium and think this is a problem that only has touched the Angels team. Scary is the DEA information that Eric Kay told them he knew of 5-other players who have used these drugs, who are or were members of the roster.
If it’s in Anaheim, it’s probably on other teams rosters too.
Baseball continues to crack down on PED use in both the major leagues and the minors. Reportedly 24-minor leaguers were hit with suspensions this season alone.
Baseball has stepped up discipline against players arrested for things like domestic abuse, alcohol issues and gun issues.
They monitor dispensing of those type of painkillers, but the blackmarket dealers are out there, on street corners and alleys. Eric Kay found them and used them to access what he wanted and what his pitcher needed, and so did Tyler Skaggs.
The opioid world is part of our everyday society, and it obviously is part of the culture of some in major league baseball.
The heartache for the Angels family, and Skaggs’ family, will not go away. Healing cannot start until baseball makes the moves to test its players for all type of painkiller meds.
It’s a black cloud that moved in and blotted out the sunshine of the Yankees-Astros…Nationals-Cardinals playoff series.
The Union and the Commissioner need to join hands, move quickly, and find a common ground to deal with this storm cloud. There should be no quid-pro-quo, I give you drug testing, you give me something back. Flat out finalize a new testing program as part of the collective bargaining agreement.
The death of a bright young Angels pitcher should not go in vain. Something good has to come out of something so bad.