During a Saturday filled with college football and MLB Postseason games, a shocking report dropped from Outside The Lines at ESPN, involving the death of Tyler Skaggs, an Angels pitcher who passed away due to a lethal combination of oxycodone, fentanyl, and alcohol back in July.
“A public relations employee for the Los Angeles Angels told federal investigators that he provided oxycodone to Tyler Skaggs and abused it with him for years and that two team officials were told about Skaggs’ drug use long before his death, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.”
And the craziness does not stop there. According to the report, the individual who confessed these indiscretions to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration also provided the names of 5 other plays who, allegedly, used opioids during their time playing for the Angels.
The death of Tyler Skaggs is a very sad story, which deserves the utmost respect, in and of itself. To find out that people with the team not only knew about it but helped provide him the drugs is just insane.
At the time of Skaggs’ death, his family issued a statement to the LA Times that read in a very curious manner:
“We are heartbroken to learn that the passing of our beloved Tyler was the result of a combination of dangerous drugs and alcohol… We were shocked to learn that it may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels. We will not rest until we learn the truth about how Tyler came into possession of these narcotics, including who supplied them.”
The report from OTL seems to corroborate this statement and give life to a whole new scandal that could plague the Angels, as well as Major League Baseball, in unthinkable ways.
The opioid crisis in the U.S. has become rampant in the past decade. It is not exactly surprising that opioid use has made its way into Major League Baseball, as players struggle with injuries and seek relief from pain. What is surprising, however, is that it went undetected and unreported within an organization such as the Angels. This is not to hold the Angels to a different standard than any other team in professional sports, but it was seemingly right under their noses.
The entire story drips with signs of a lack of organizational control. It is one thing for a player to have an addiction problem and a team to help the player work through those issues without exposing the person to the public. Believe it or not, this is far more common than one would assume. When a team has someone within the organization supplying these kinds of drugs to players, however, questions and red flags begin to raise immediately.
This story is heartbreaking for the family, first and foremost. It is also heartbreaking for baseball, and professional sports, as a whole. The world needlessly lost a husband, and a family member, as well as a very gifted athlete.
This does not appear to be over, in any way, shape or form. If anything, more information will continue to come out about what measures were taken by the Angels, and others that may have been aware of this issue. Given that there were 5 other names provided to the DEA in their investigation, we will almost certainly learn more in the coming months.
I have used the word “scandal” throughout this blog. Make no mistake, this is a massive scandal and we are only at the beginning.