The Santa Monica Observer has issued a story following the coroner’s verdict today on the cause of death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, a report that largely vindicated the newspaper’s speculation on his cause of death.
The newspaper was blasted by the Angels and Texas police after it published an earlier story that indicated Skaggs may have overdosed on opioids. The Texas coroner also came to that conclusion in his release today, saying that a combination of drugs and alcohol caused the 27-year-old pitcher to choke to death.
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“Everything Stan Greene said in the days immediately following his death, turns out to have been true (sadly),” said an emailed statement from publisher David Ganezer. He added, “drugs are pervasive at Santa Monica high school and other affluent high schools in Los Angeles. As responsible journalists, we hope that Tyler Skaggs death will lead to a national discussion about how to better keep our kids away from oxycodone, Fentanyl, and alcohol.”
The Observer had speculated that Skaggs, 27, may have gone the same route as rocker Tom Petty, getting opioid prescriptions from multiple doctors who were unaware of each other’s treatments. The Observer article was then scrubbed of that information and indicated that the article “makes it clear the author is speculating.” The family of Skaggs said in its statement today that it was determined to find out where he obtained his drugs, and seemed to point the finger at an Angels employee.
Today’s ruling by the coroner contravenes the early statements from police and the LA Angels.
Police in Texas said immediately following Skaggs’s death that there was no information suggesting an overdose. Skaggs was found dead in his room at the Hilton Southlake hotel before his team was scheduled to play the Texas Rangers. No information has been released on what was found in the room, although Skaggs was described as being fully clothed with no signs of foul play.
Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey also chimed in at that time on the Santa Monica Observer story. She said it was “categorically incorrect. The cause of death is still under investigation. This sort of reckless reporting from Tyler’s hometown paper is disappointing and harmful.”
Today’s Santa Monica Observer story by reporter Stan Greene, the author of the original column, said, “A number of other newspapers called the Santa Monica Observer “Fake News”. But remember, you heard it here first.”
Greene’s story today also claimed that “Drug use is out of control among Major League players. They travel around to towns like Mobile Alabama and Decatur Illinois, they play a game. Then at night, there is nothing for them to do but drink or use drugs.” Greene added that steroid use is also rampant.
“Law firms representing teams like the Angels, will send out fatuous threat letters to avoid our discussing drug use among the professional teams they represent. This is not helpful. Embedded below, left is a threat letter we received from #kirlandandellis after going live with our story. That, in combination with death threats from the kind of strange individuals who send death threats, caused us to pull the story, in a restriction of my First Amendment Rights.”
Greene went on to list media outlets who “pilloried” him, including a prior Deadline story.