Entertainment

Here’s What We Know So Far About The Untimely Death Of Mexican-American Pitcher Tyler Skaggs

Less than a week after the unexpected passing of 27-year-old Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Tyler Skaggs, there is new controversy surrounding the reporting of his death. The Santa Monica Observer sparked widespread outrage when it speculated that Skaggs had died of an opioid overdose. But after receiving a wave of blowback, the California newspaper scrapped the piece and wrote an op-ed explaining why it did so. The explanation has been met with a tepid response from police and the Angels organization.

There are few details surrounding the reason behind Skagg’s death so far.

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Tragedy struck the baseball world last week when Skaggs, who is of Mexican descent, was found by the Southlake Police Department unconscious in a hotel room hours before his team was about to play the Texas Rangers. Authorities pronounced the 27-year-old dead at the scene, a police press release said. But there were still many questions about how such a young promising star like Skaggs could be found like this.

Shortly after, the Santa Monica Observer reported that Skaggs may have been getting opioid prescriptions from doctors who were unaware of each other’s treatments. That report was quickly shot down by Texas police who said there was no credible information to support that Skaggs died of an overdose or suicide.

Angels spokesperson, Marie Garvey, said the report was also wrong citing that the investigation is still ongoing at this time. While an autopsy has reportedly been completed, the results of it and a toxicology report will not be released until October.

“This article is categorically incorrect,” Garvey said in a statement. “The cause of death is still under investigation as stated by the Southlake Police Department. We have tried to contact the paper to correct this story but have [been] unsuccessful in our attempts. This sort of reckless reporting from Tyler’s hometown paper is disappointing and harmful.”

The Op-Ed piece did little to clear things up as many wonder why this was published in the first place.

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The op-ed, published this past Saturday, titled “Why Did We Take Down Our Original Story About The Death of a Ballplayer?” says the publication took down the story due to multiple threats. Santa Monica Observer publisher David Ganezer wrote the op-ed and defended it’s publishing. He said the newspaper’s staff received “multiple personal threats and attacks from anonymous sources,” including “a creepy text message” that was sent to a young female intern’s cellphone.

“She wasn’t frightened about it at all,” Ganezer wrote. “But I was. I’m older, much older; and I know more about how out of hand the potential pile-on is getting in this country.”

“Not simply in the form of a threat letter from lawyers Kirkland and Ellis, representing the Angels and a certain deceased ball player. And not just in the form of anonymous phone calls and emails,” Ganezer said. “No, we also received multiple personal threats and attacks from anonymous sources.

The original article was ultimately scrubbed of the opioid details but Ganezer said in his op-ed it was made clear from the author, Stan Greene, the piece was “speculation.”

This isn’t the first time the newspaper publishes “speculative information.”

Credit: @alden_gonzalez / Twitter

The baseball world is still in mourning over the death of Skaggs and many teammates have shown their respect for their fallen teammate in various ways since last Monday. But for Skagg’s family, the last thing they want at this time is presumptive information being released about him.

According to the Santa Monica Lookout, the Observer has had previous situations where the paper published incorrect stories. This past January, a story ran with the headline, “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Will Retire from the US Supreme Court in January 2019.” This was false. In December 2016, the headline, “Kanye West Appointed Under-Secretary of the Interior After Meeting at Trump Tower” was published, which was also false. Both pieces were written by Greene, who also wrote the article on Skaggs’ passing.

At this time, the paper says they would comment further on the story when Skaggs’ autopsy and toxicology reports are released in October. Maybe by then, we’ll have a more accurate picture on this unfortunate passing.

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As Andy Ruiz Jr. Gets Set For A Rematch Against Anthony Joshua, He’s Already A Champion For Many Latinos

Entertainment

As Andy Ruiz Jr. Gets Set For A Rematch Against Anthony Joshua, He’s Already A Champion For Many Latinos

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Underdog is a word that gets tossed around quite frequently in the world of sports. That may be because as humans we love the story of the often-counted out, disregarded and overlooked individual coming out on top. David vs Goliath. Rocky vs Apollo Creed. The list goes on.

This past June, Latinos got their own modern-day underdog story in the upset victory of Andy Ruiz Jr. over Anthony Joshua. It was a moment that will live on among the biggest upsets in sports within the past several decades. As the boxing world gets set for the highly anticipated rematch between Ruiz and Joshua, many Latinos have already won before Ruiz has even put on a pair of gloves. 

The-then 268 pound Ruiz knocked out three-belt heavyweight champion Joshua to become the first boxer of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title. But as every underdog story goes, the victory didn’t come easy or expected.

Ruiz wasn’t even supposed to be at the fight until he was called in as a last-minute replacement for Jarrell Miller, who submitted three positive drug tests. Ruiz was dubbed “overweight,” “out of shape,” and a fill-in of what was supposed to be Joshua’s coming out party in his first fight in the United States. Ruiz entered the match as a +1100 underdog with a résumé of victories that took place in small casino venues from Tijuana to Tucson. 

Suddenly, he’d be fighting against one of the most feared boxers in Joshua in one of the most famous arenas in the world, Madison Square Garden in New York City.  

To put it in simplest terms, Ruiz had won the lottery without getting a single cent. Remember how I said humans love underdog stories? Yeah, this had all the makings of an underdog story but the easiest part of the script was already written. The world was just waiting for Ruiz to do his part

Seven rounds of punches later, Ruiz had accomplished what few had ever expected a man of his background, style and size to ever accomplish in a boxing ring. But more importantly, Ruiz became an inspiration to so many Latinos in a time when anti-Latino sentiment seems to be the only thing seen in the headlines. 

Whether it be from the U.S. president, a white-supremacist shooter targeting “Mexicans” in El Paso, Texas and the constant narrative of an “invasion” from the Southern Border. But on June 2, 2019, the world woke up to a headline that didn’t read “Joshua KO’s Ruiz” or “Ruiz Who?”, they read “Ruiz Becomes First Mexican Heavyweight Champion.” 

“It means a lot, especially knowing I’ve worked from 6 years old to get to where I’m at now,” Ruiz told the LA Times after the fight. “But it won’t mean something only to me. Each Mexican has his own dream, and I’ve come to believe as long as we focus, you can accomplish anything you want. So maybe by winning, I can change some minds.”

What has ensued since that legendary June night is a celebratory tour that few Mexican boxers have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. 

Overnight, Ruiz became a folk hero of some sorts to countless of Latinos who embraced the boxer and his underdog story. Ruiz came from humble beginnings, born in Imperial Valley, California and was raised by Mexican immigrant parents. His journey began at the age of six when he started his boxing career and would train long days and nights with his father, Andy Ruiz Sr. He would take his son with him for daily training sessions in Mexicali and would endure 90-minute waits at the border crossing. 

Ruiz was born already counted out and that helped him become the fighter he is today.

Credit: andy_destroyer13 / Instagram

That rugged street mentality was etched in his mind from a young age and still follows him to this day. 

“We know their struggles,”  Jorge Munoz, director of Sparta boxing club where Ruiz would train in his hometown of the  Imperial Valley, told The Guardian. “We know how many times they wanted to give up. And the people in the boxing world, they understand how much you go to tournaments and you sacrifice, sometimes you don’t have food, you come back and you try to raise the money to go somewhere else and all these struggles you go through with one goal that you might never get the chance for.”

What ensued after his victory was a championship tour the likes of which a Mexican boxer had never seen. Ruiz met with the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He made an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” There was even a photoshoot with GQ Mexico. The crowning moment was a hometown parade on June 22 in the Imperial Valley where thousands of fans showed up to cheer the champ. 

“He’s one of us, so this is a big deal,” Reyna Gutierrez, a fan of Ruiz who was at that parade, told the Desert Sun. “People might not understand. He’s representing our community and he’s the first Mexican heavyweight champion. We’re so proud of that.”

Whatever the rematch result may be, it won’t matter to many Latinos. Ruiz has already done more than bring home a title, he’s become an underdog that Latinos can call their own.

The rematch bout is being billed as the “Clash on the Dunes,” as Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) will take on Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia about six months after history was made. One day before the fight, Ruiz already made headlines at the official weigh-in as he tipped the scale coming in at a surprising 283.7 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than in his first fight. 

“I kind of wanted to be a little over what I was last time so I could be stronger and feel actually a little better than in the first fight,” Joshua told Yahoo Sports. “We were [planning to be 268], but they were making us wait before we got to the scales and so I had already ate. Plus, I weighed with all my clothes. That’s one of the reasons why I weighed probably too much

While the extra pounds might be concerning to some, experts and analysts see the match as a tossup. For Ruiz, he likes being counted out. He thrives on it. It’s the only way he knows how to feel entering the boxing ring. 

“I never gave up, after everybody was telling me that I wasn’t gonna do nothing (because of) the way that I look … I kept training, I kept listening to my father, my team (and) my coaches. … When I got knocked down, I got back up like the warrior that I am. … (To) all the kids that have dreams, dream big,” Ruiz said at his hometown parade

Never give up. Get back up. Dream big. 

Yes, those are the words that sound like the description of an underdog. Andy Ruiz knows too well about that label and so do many Latinos. That’s why when that bell rings in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the world will be breathing in their collective breath as the latest chapter in this underdog story is written. 

Latinos wouldn’t have it any other way. 

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A Drug Kingpin Accused Of Ordering The Shooting Of David Ortiz Was Arrested In Colombia For Drug Smuggling

Entertainment

A Drug Kingpin Accused Of Ordering The Shooting Of David Ortiz Was Arrested In Colombia For Drug Smuggling

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A Dominican drug kingpin was arrested in Colombia, just hours before an international flight, and it’s raising questions about his connection to the shooting of baseball legend David “Big Papi” Ortiz. “César the Abuser” Emilio Peralta had arrived by yacht from the Dominican Republic to Cartagena, Colombia, where authorities arrested him in Bocagrande, a wealthy neighborhood in the country’s entertainment capital. Peralta became known as one of the Dominican Republic’s most powerful drug kingpins, operating a drug trafficking scheme to move heroin and cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela through the Dominican Republic and the United States. His operation was so significant, the FBI had offered a $100,000 reward for any information leading to his arrest, which Peralta had been evading since August 2018.

Peralta has passionately denied any involvement in Ortiz’s shooting. 

CREDIT: @ANARIDIS / TWITTER

“David is like my brother. We were neighbors for four years. I have never been with one of David’s women and David was never involved with any of mine. When David comes from out there [the United States] he brings me my perfume, my gift, my sneakers. David is crazy with my children. My children love him,” Peralta reportedly said in an audio recording.

Meanwhile, Ortiz’s spokesman, Joe Baerlein told The New York Post that Ortiz sold his condo after he saw “Peralta’s thugs hanging out in the building.” The conflicting reports have led to questions about Peralta’s involvement in Ortiz’s shooting.

Rumors spread that Ortiz was involved in a love triangle with Peralta that reached a breaking point the day before his shooting.

CREDIT: @PORTAZONA / TWITTER

The local paper, El Dominicano, reported that Ortiz had bought Peralta’s girlfriend, Dominican model Maria Yeribell Martinez Garcia, a luxury Lexus SUV. The June 8 report included an alleged ownership pink slip in Martinez Garcia’s name along with a check signed by Ortiz. On June 9, Ortiz was shot several times in the back while enjoying a drink at the Dial Bar and Lounge in East Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Ortiz immediately underwent a 6-hour surgery, during which portions of his intestines, colon, and his entire gallbladder were removed. On June 10, the Red Sox sent a medical flight to bring Ortiz for two more surgeries at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

At the hospital, Martinez Garcia was captured on video fighting with another woman, Fary Almanzar Fernandez, in the waiting room for Ortiz. Ortiz’s spokesman told The New York Post that Ortiz “considers her a friend and he has been seen with her at public places with other people around,” and that El Papi did not buy her a car.

Peralta has not been formally charged in any connection to Ortiz’s shooting.

CREDIT: @HJTHEREALJ / TWITTER

The Daily Mail reports that Peralta was captured on video surveillance walking outside the medical facility in the “moments after” Ortiz’s shooting. Authorities have emphasized that Ortiz was not the intended target of the attempted assassination, but rather was ordered by Mexican drug lord Victor Hugo Gomez Vasquez and intended for his cousin, Sixto David Fernández. Remarkably, the shooter shot Ortiz because he was wearing white pants, which resembled the blurry photo of the intended mark, which was obscured by a white object. Gomez Vasquez was arrested on June 28, along with Alberto Miguel Rodriguez Mota, who allegedly took that fateful photo of Ortiz and Fernández.

Ortiz was released from Mass. General six weeks after his shooting, and was still unable to eat food. 

Peralta’s two-decade reign over his Latin American cocaine and heroin trafficking trade seems to be over.

CREDIT: @ANARIDIS / TWITTER

Puerto Rican FBI officials say that Peralta had been conducting an illicit drug trade since 1997. In 2000, Peralta was arrested in Santo Domingo for possessing more than four kilos of cocaine. In 2007, he was linked to a 215 kilos shipment of cocaine, but not convicted. The United States announced charges against Peralta in August and raided 40 properties linked to Peralta, including the condo that once shared the same building as Ortiz’s residence. 

“Cesar Emilio Peralta and his criminal organization have used violence and corruption in the Dominican Republic to traffic tons of cocaine and opioids into the United States and Europe. Treasury is targeting these Dominican drug kingpins, their front persons, and the nightclubs they have used to launder money and traffic women,” the Terrorism and Financial Intelligence agency said in a statement. Two MLB players were arrested and later released for allegedly laundering Peralta’s drug money. Officials state that more information will be released later.

READ: Authorities Identify Person Of Interest In Planned Shooting Of David Ortiz