Before people speculate on what happened with Tyler Skaggs, let’s just stick with the facts of what happened when Tyler Skaggs died. Here’s what we know.
Skaggs was found dead at age 27 in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas, on July 1, the day the Angels were to begin a three-game series against the Rangers in Arlington. This resulted in the Angels postponing the next game. On July 13, Felix Pena and Taylor Cole combined for a no-hitter after their first home game since Tyler Skaggs passed away. After the game, the players covered the mound with No. 45 (the number that Skaggs wore) jerseys.
So what did the Tarrant County coroners find? Skaggs had the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, as well as alcohol, and that his death was caused by “terminal aspiration of gastric contents.” In simple terms, he had drugs (opioids) and alcohol in his system and choked over his own vomit.
What is the reaction of Tyler Skaggs’ family? They have hired attorney Rusty Hardin to find out what exactly happened and released a statement about the findings of the toxicology report:
“We are heartbroken to learn that the passing of our beloved Tyler was the result of a combination of dangerous drugs and alcohol. That is completely out of character for someone who worked so hard to become a Major League Baseball player and had a very promising future in the game he loved so much.”
Understandably they are shocked by the news. However, more disturbing than this is that they’re alleging that an Angels employee had something to do with his death:
“We are grateful for the work of the detectives in the Southlake Police Department and their ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Tyler’s death. 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. To that end, we have hired attorney Rusty Hardin to assist us.”
What did GM Billy Eppler say about this serious allegation? “I apologize, but I cannot comment on that because of the ongoing nature of the investigation, because it would compromise the investigation and the jobs that people have to do,” Eppler said.
Manager Brad Ausmus said the report reopened old wounds for the Angels, but that it doesn’t change the way they view Skaggs. Both Ausmus and Eppler addressed the team before Friday’s game against the Red Sox. The clubhouse was closed to reporters before the game.
“I was surprised by it because I had no prior notice,” Ausmus said. “Frankly, for me and the guys in the clubhouse, it doesn’t really change anything. We lost a teammate, lost a friend. We miss him.”
Teammate and former best friend of Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, agreed with Ausmus:
“It really didn’t change much,” Heaney said. “He’s no longer with us. That’s what hurts the most. The circumstances don’t change how I feel about him. It doesn’t change how everyone here was treated by him and how much they loved him. It doesn’t change a thing.”
Angels fans and baseball fans have had different reactions. Some Angels fans blame the doctors, physicians, and trainers of the Angels. Some blame the family for putting the blame on the Angels and not looking in the mirror. Some say more attention has to be paid towards mental illnesses and addiction while other people put all of the blame on Tyler Skaggs and say that he was the one that made bad choices. They don’t seem to feel any remorse for him and have called him a “junkie”.
Here’s where people need to stand. Addiction doesn’t discriminate based on race, ethnicity, wealth, or religion. Even if it’s revealed that an Angels employee supplied him with drugs, Skaggs still made the point to ingest them, so his parents need to remember that. At the same time, his parents should talk to his friends and his peers and investigate what caused him to go down this dangerous path. Was he going through depression or was there a problem in his life that he felt he couldn’t handle?
No matter what happened, a 27-year old lost his life and that is a tragic loss for anyone. Instead of judging his parents or Tyler Skaggs, let’s remember him for who he was: a great teammate and a loving person.
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