The two most popular teams in Florida: the Braves and the Yankees

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You wonder why the Marlins and the Rays don’t draw as well as they’d like to and why no one wants to give the Rays three quarters of a billion dollars for a new ballpark? This little nugget, from recent public opinion polls in the Sunshine State, may help explain it:

Florida’s MLB teams continue to lag in popularity even in their own home state. The 2 most popular baseball teams in Florida are the Braves (17%) and the Yankees (14%). They are then followed by the Marlins (12%) and the Rays (11%), The Red Sox at 8% and Cubs at 6% fill out the list of teams with substantial levels of fandom.

A huge portion of Florida is, culturally speaking, the deep south and the Braves have kind of taken over the deep south, baseball-wise, in the past 40-50 years. The other parts of the state are full of transplants and snowbirds, a huge number of whom come from the east coast and, obviously, the north. They’re not going to change their rooting stripes easily. It’s already a tall order or any expansion team to gain traction. Add that to all of the people who live there that aren’t from there, and it’s a doubly tall order.

But, of course, these things change over time. As Michael Lortz explored this in greater depth last year, there are more native Floridians now than there were 25 years ago and those numbers will increase. And people can and do change their baseball rooting habits over time, especially when they move.  It just may take a bit longer for the Florida teams than it did for expansion teams in areas with a greater native population.

(Thanks to Jake for the heads up)

 

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.