Pitcher’s Death Has MLB Considering Drug Policy Change

Pitcher’s Death Has MLB Considering Drug Policy Change

Pitcher’s  Death Has MLB Considering Drug Policy Change

“For several reasons, including the tragic loss of a member of our fraternity and other developments happening in the country as a whole, it is appropriate and important to reexamine all of our drug protocols relating to education, treatment, and prevention.”

~ Tony Clark, Executive Director, Major League Baseball Players Association

On July 1, 2019, Tyler Skaggs, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, was found dead in a Texas hotel room. The Angels were in town to play a series against the Rangers, and Skaggs was scheduled to pitch the final game on the 4th of July..

Skaggs was only 27 years old, and left behind a wife of one year. By all accounts, he was an excellent teammate, popular with both his fellow players and with his coaches.

On August 30, the Medical Examiner in Tarrant County, Texas, released a toxicology report announcing that Skaggs’ died due to a combination of “alcohol, fentanyl, and oxycodone intoxication with terminal aspiration of gastric contents.”

In other words.while Skaggs was overdosing on the fatal mixture of opioids and alcohol, he  choked to death on his own vomit, a sad, wasteful end for someone who, as his family said, “had a very promising future in the game he loved so much.”

Once the Medical Examiner’s findings were released to the public, the LA Angels organization issued a statement saying, “Tyler was and always will be a beloved member of the Angels family and we are deeply saddened to learn what caused this tragic death.”

Are Changes in Store for the MLB Drug Policy?

“For several reasons, including the tragic loss of a member of our fraternity and other developments happening in the country as a whole, it is appropriate and important to reexamine all of our drug protocols relating to education, treatment, and prevention.”

~ Tony Clark, Executive Director, Major League Baseball Players Association

Recently, the Wall Street Journalreported that in the aftermath of Tyler Skaggs’ death, the Baseball Commissioner’s office and the Player’s Association are expected to meet soon to discuss the possibility of expanding the current MLB drug policy to include random screenings for opioids, something that is already happening in the minor leagues.  This is encouraging, because the two sides have worked closely in recent years on issues relating to substance abuse

In some ways, this is a surprising announcement, because positive opioid tests are quite rare among minor league players. In the last five years, over 78,000 drug tests have been administered, and only 12 have been positive for opioids. But executives with MLB are reportedly pushing for this drug policy change.

Why is this?

  • First, major league players have more money than minor leaguers. Whereas the average Triple-A player makes $10,000 a month, the major league minimum is $550,000 per year. Over half of all players are millionaires.
  • Second, the major league season is considerably longer than that of the minor leagues, 162 to 140. That is months of additional games, travel, and nagging injuries.
  • Third, the opioid crisis continues in this country, and national trends may repeat among ballplayers. For example, fentanyl is now the deadliest drug in America, and it was one of the drugs that killed Tyler Skaggs.

This combination of factors support the possibility that opioid abuse may currently be more prevalent among major league ballplayers than in the past.

What This Means to YOU

It would only be appropriate if this senseless tragedy ends up being the catalyst that changes how pro baseball screens its players for opioids, the deadliest class of drugs — roughly 70% of fatal overdoses in America involve opioids.

If this proposed change to “America’s Pastime” promotes greater awareness about the dangers of opioid misuse, it will save lives and Tyler Skaggs will not have died in vain.

As the oldest and most-respected outpatient program in San Diego, Lasting Recovery supports any measures that call attention to the drug crisis in America. If you or someone is struggling with problematic drinking or drug abuse, Lasting Recovery is the resource you need to safely and successfully regain your sobriety.

To get immediate help, contact Lasting Recovery TODAY.