There’s as much meaning in death as their is in life, which is why we all grieve differently and in our own time. The Angels’ Tyler Skaggs passed away and we’ll never truly understand the “why” of it even if a coroner is able to produce a “how”, and in either situation, his family and his teammates won’t be fully satisfied by the answer.
“He’s gone too soon.”
“Taken so young.”
“He had so much more left do.”
These are all natural thoughts — these and many more — but they all lead to the same dead end: why? So instead, we’ve learned to make do with the world around us. Death brings people together. It unites communities. Bond strangers to each other.
The Angels threw a combined no-hitter last night in their first home game since Tyler Skaggs died, and the heightened sense of “what the heck is happening?” from the night did not end there.
As if tonight couldn't get any more surreal, Mike Trout brings up the fact that the Angels scored 7 runs in the first and finished with 13 runs. "Tyler’s birthday is 7/13. Tomorrow,” he said. They'd tell you to rewrite this script to make it more believable if you turned this in.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 13, 2019
Tyler Skaggs’ mom threw a perfect first pitch and his teammates all wore #45 and Skaggs on the back of their jerseys and tossed all those jerseys on the mound after game as you can see in the header image, and all of it makes sense from an almost supernatural perspective: grieving teammates came together to accomplish a difficult feat in honor of their dead teammate.
It wasn’t magic, though. It was execution. The Angels executed a flawless game plan. Here’s all 27 outs from last night’s game, including the walk Félix Peña allegedly pitched to Omar Narváez — it was an extremely close pitch — which gave the Mariners their sole baserunner.
Notice how many times the Mariners lined a ball right at a defender. Notice that Peña stuck to a game plan once he saw what was working: Seattle hit just 9 balls with an expected batting average of .300 or greater and just four fly balls.
The Angels even used an opener last night ahead of Félix Peña. Tyler Cole pitched two quick innings to start the game. It was flawless execution on a night when mistakes would’ve been understandable. The emotions of the moment didn’t cloud their focus, though, it sharpened it. Nothing made sense until the game.
Maybe the chaos of the world makes this practically difficult, but there are times in life when everything falls away and we’re able to simply be present in the current moment. Meditation can get us here for sure, but absent that, these moments of focus and presence are few and far between.
No, the Angels did not pitch a perfect game, but they did everything perfectly, because they were focused on what was right in front of them. The loss of Tyler Skaggs empowered them to cherish the present moment, and in doing so, they turned “just a baseball game” into a meditation.
Last night, the Angels channeled their shock and grief into the sublime focus of a baseball game, an unavoidably direct connection to the cause of their grief. But they turned that potential negative into a blissful positive, and for at least one last night, they felt a connection to the brother they’d lost.