Three years ago, Tyler Skaggs’ death rocked Major League Baseball. Yet, the trial of Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ ex-Communications Director who allegedly sold Skaggs the opioid he OD’d on, has taken place on the fringes of the sports media sphere. Kay is facing felony charges of distributing opioids and causing the opioid-related death of Tyler Skaggs.
However, in contrast to the Astros cheating scandal, the trial has entered its second week, but you wouldn’t know it based upon the nearly non-existent coverage. Closing arguments are set to begin and Major League Baseball has to be satisfied with how poorly this case has penetrated the sports ecosphere and avoided embarrassing a floundering Angels franchise that employs two of its premier stars in its second-largest media market.
On Monday, a text message was included in the defense’s questioning of a former DEA agent that alleges former Angels’ pitcher Matt Harvey of supplying drugs to Skaggs. Prosecutors revealed months ago that Skaggs was the go-between for Kay and several anonymous Angels players. Last week, Harvey was revealed to be the prosecution’s star witness, along with the testimony of other former Los Angeles players and teammates who received oxycodone pills from Kay.
Harvey admitted that in addition to his alcohol abuse, he used cocaine frequently and once ingested oxycodone with Skaggs at Angel Stadium. However, he also testified that he was not certain if Kay had supplied Skaggs with the drugs he overdosed using.
C.J. Cron, who played for the Angels between 2014 and 2018, testified that he bought drugs from Kay eight times, including once as a visiting player with the Tampa Bays. Mike Morin bought oxycodone from Kay “five or six times” between 2016 and 2017. According to Morin, Skaggs referred him to Kay as someone who could supply him with medication to deal with the pain originating from the thoracic outlet syndrome.
Harvey’s admission isn’t a shock to anyone who followed his exploits during his meteoric rise and fall on the Mets. He was a dual influence as the Mets ace and a mess off the field. His partying and drinking became so serious, he was suspended three games and missed a start due to heavy drinking on Cinco de Mayo. Yet, even the testimony of a prominent athlete (who was a mainstay in tabloids for years) failed to puncture the bubble this case appears to be operating in.
Skaggs’ widow, Carli Skaggs, was also questioned on Tuesday about a text she sent her husband in which she asked him not to fall asleep without texting her. After Skaggs failed to respond, she followed up with a text that read, “You have a drinking problem. I’m about to tell (traveling secretary) Tom Taylor.”
On the stand, Carli, who is suing the Angels in a separate civil lawsuit, testified that she was unaware of Skaggs’ opioid abuse. She added that he felt pressured to stay healthy and continue his major league career.
The defense opened its case Wednesday but called five witnesses before quickly resting later in the evening.
A fifth player, Blake Parker, who last pitched for the team now known as the Guardians in 2021, also took the stand Wednesday for the defense. Parker’s testimony Wednesday evening ended any chances of the defense putting Kay on the stand as closing arguments are set to begin Thursday morning.
The testimony about the drug use permeating through the Angels’ clubhouse has been more salacious than anything emerging from the black hole that is the MLB lockout.
It’s a stark departure from wall-to-wall updates I’ve seen in past trials of its ilk. Especially considering the criminal trial also hinges on the scrutiny of rampant drug use in the Angels’ clubhouse, as Kay has maintained that members of the Angels’ front office were aware of the opioid abuse among its players.
The silence surrounding this trial has never been more apparent than in the dead zone between the NBA All-Star break and the Super Bowl. The outside world is neglecting the Angels organization. For once, they’re grateful, and we’re worse off for it.