The man who sold the BBWAA on Bert Blyleven

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Yesterday Jon Heyman made a reference to “the small coterie of Internet zealots” who are responsible for getting BBWAA voters to change their minds about Bert Blyleven and push him to the brink of election to the Hall of Fame.  While Heyman was unbelievably snotty in writing it like he did, he wasn’t technically wrong.  There is one man whose zeal — and unlike my friend Jon, I don’t consider that an epithet — rises above all others: Rich Lederer of Baseball Analysts.

Jon Paul Morosi profiles Rich today, and one thing is 100% clear: Lederer is no blogger stereotype trapped in the basement and telling baseball writers that they shouldn’t believe their own eyes. He’s a fan. A passionate one, whose father was a big league baseball writer, and who took up the cause of Blyleven’s Hall of Fame candidacy, not because his slide rule told him to, but because it just made a ton of sense.  Morosi does a good job with his story, and I recommend it.

It’s also worth noting that Blyleven isn’t the only person who got a boost from Rich Lederer. He may not realize it, but if it wasn’t for Rich, I probably wouldn’t be blogging here today. Rich was good enough to give me a couple of guest posts over at Baseball Analysts back in 2008 when no one knew who I was. Dave Studeman from the Hardball Times saw and liked those and that eventually led to him inviting me to bring my old Shysterball blog over to THT.  If I’m not writing at THT, it’s kind of doubtful that I’d have a sufficient profile to make anyone at NBC give a hoot about me.

So, thank you Rich.  Both for what you did for Bert Blyleven’s worthy candidacy, and for what you did for me.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.