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Tommy Pham on All-Star voting: ‘It’s always unfair. It’s never going to be fair.’

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Over at The Athletic, Josh Tolentino has a story up that makes a good point: the Rays currently have only one guy — Austin Meadows — in starting position in All-Star voting despite having multiple guys who are deserving on merit. He goes through the Rays’ roster to see who is deserving.

Before he does that, though, he gets a quote from Tommy Pham that’ll probably get picked up by a lot of people and cast in a certain way but which, really, makes a good point in a less obvious way.

Here’s what Pham said about the Rays’ so-far poor showing in All-Star voting:

“We won’t get credit, man. It’s always unfair. Big market vs. small market. It’s never going to be fair. With Avisaíl [Garcia] and me, when I saw the ballot of the guys ahead of us – (Red Sox) Jackie Bradley Jr. and (Yankees) Brett Gardner – and they’re hitting around .200 or lower. That tells you it right there.”

I presume some in the Boston and New York media will pick up on the comments to Bradley and Gardner and try to make hay out of it, because that’s just how these things go. Pham goes on to talk about how the Rays are never featured on ESPN and how big market vs. small market rules such considerations and I suppose people will cast that as whining in some way as well.

But there’s something else Pham said that is more notable to me:

“It’s never going to be fair. It has to change because when you go into arbitration, that’s a big thing that’s talked about with accomplishments. Baseball has to be better to fix it.”

Do All-Star credentials have a big impact on arbitration. I dunno. I think it’s more of a side factor — something thrown out in passing — as opposed to the meat of an arbitration presentation, but it’s not nothing. If it has even a slight effect, though, it’s garbage because we have an All-Star voting system that is, frankly, ridiculous in its randomness and geared far more toward maximizing web traffic and sponsorship engagement than it is in actually picking players for the All-Star Game. To the extent an All-Star selection — especially a selection as a starter — impacts arbitration awards Pham is right to be mad about it because those arbitration awards, in turn, have a big impact on later salary negotiations. It’s bad enough that voting leaders get cash bonuses now, but if MLB’s farce of an All-Star voting system costs players money down the road, it’s way worse.

As for the larger stuff about the Rays not getting exposure: well, yeah. That’s a tale as old as baseball, unfortunately. But even if it’s an old complaint, and one about which not much can be done, it doesn’t negate what Pham is saying about the arbitration angle.

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.