Tyler Skaggs, 1991-2019

Tyler Skaggs on July 22, 2013.jpg

Tyler Skaggs with the Diamondbacks in 2013 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Tyler Skaggs died on Monday. He was just a week or so away from his 28th birthday. The authorities have yet to identify a cause of death, though they have ruled out foul play and suicide. A lot has already been written about Skaggs’ life, career, and impact on others, so I won’t reiterate that here (see yesterday’s post by RIP Baseball, for example, which was a really nice tribute).

As the Angels play clear across the country, I really don’t follow them and knew very little about Skaggs. Nonetheless, as a baseball fan I was saddended by the news of his death, like other fans. As a sociologist, I wondered why that was.

Baseball fans are a community – we share a love for the game and an admiration of those who play. The players represent ourselves and our cities. Thus, is natural that we feel a connection to the larger baseball community at a time of tragedy or deep sadness. Even if Skaggs didn’t pitch for your favorite team, the impact was felt by your team and your community. And, thus, by you.

As a society, we are afraid death and of the unknown. When death comes “too soon” and takes away someone with a promising future, we fail to understand how such an injustice could happen. Our hearts ache for Skaggs’ family and we can barely fathom what his young wife must be going through. Often, thoughts turn to our own lives and families. And that’s ok.

Because death is a taboo subject in society, we often do not have ways to cope with our emotions surrounding death – perhaps even more so when we are not in the person’s inner circle. Grieving for celebrities and athletes, seeking out information on what happened, and reading the many tributes and memorials is natural. It helps us connect with our own feelings and the larger community. It proves we are human and capable of empathy.

As part of the larger baseball community, we, the fans, share in the grief over the loss of a member of our community. We may not have known Tyler, but we understand what he meant to those who knew him personally, played with him, and were his fans. We share your sadness and support you in your time of loss.

Rest in peace, Tyler. You will be missed – by many.

~ baseballrebecca



Deborah Carr, “3 Reasons We Mourn Celebrity Deaths: The benefits of sharing emotions communally,” Psychology Today, January 19, 2016, accessed at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/bouncing-back/201601/3-reasons-we-mourn-celebrity-deaths.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, “When death goes viral: mourning celebrities on social media,” The Guardian, August 21, 2014, accessed at https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/aug/21/robin-williams-mourning-death-celebrities-social-media-viral.

Katherine Ellen Foley, “Feeling grief is a totally reaction to a celebrity death,” Quartz.com, June 8, 2018, accessed at: https://qz.com/1301069/when-celebrities-die-its-normal-to-feel-personal-grief/

Monica Hesse, “Tweet it and weep? Online, grief over dead celebrities is about us,” The Washington Post, May 24, 2012, accessed at https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/social-mourning-tweets-are-less-about-dead-celebrities-than-they-are-about-us/2012/05/24/gJQABtFFoU_story.html?utm_term=.6ed91c307902.

Lindsey Holmes, “Here’s Why Celebrity Deaths Can Feel So Personal,” Huffington Post, June 5, 2018, accessed at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mourning-prince-why-we-grieve-celebrity-deaths-grief_n_57190ba4e4b0d4d3f722974a.

Tony Walter, “Viewpoint: Sociology of Mortality – Existential or Pragmatic?” February 6, 2018, accessed at https://discoversociety.org/2018/02/06/viewpoint-sociology-of-mortality-existential-or-pragmatic/.






Who Am I Watching?


How are we really expected to know who these two teams are at first glance?

It’s hard to be out of town and not be able to watch your favorite teams. It’s even harder when you turn on the hotel TV to watch baseball – any baseball, because you’re desperate for baseball – only to have your mind wander and forget what you’re watching. This recently happened to me as I was watching the Rangers and Angels this past weekend.

Of course, these aren’t my favorite teams, so I wasn’t watching as closely as I usually do when it comes to baseball. And, granted, I’m used to watching the Orioles and the Nationals on a regular basis, so these weren’t players I am completely familiar with. So, its only natural, I suppose, that at one point I looked up on the screen an had no idea who I was watching.

Excuses noted above, aside, I blame this thoroughly on the two teams themselves and the uniforms they were wearing. Although they were wearing the traditional home-white and away-gray uniforms, they were wearing essentially the same colors. Shouldn’t there be a rule about both teams wearing the same color hats? Whatever happened to the Rangers’ blue uniforms? Why did they need to add that splash of red to their wardrobe?

These aren’t the only teams I have difficulties watching. Being a Nats fan, this can be particularly problematic. There’s nothing worse than when the Nats are playing the Cardinals or the Reds and everyone decides to wear red. This really isn’t as much a problem with the Orioles, although I was thoroughly confused at times last year when they played the Giants.

With all the alternate and specialty uniforms they have these days, you’d think they could find a way to avoid this. After all, haven’t they ever had to worry about showing up to a party wearing the same outfit as someone else?

As for that Rangers-Angels game, I could only tell who was who when I really paid attention. And when Darvish turned around so I could read his jersey.

~ baseballrebecca