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Mass Disruption

Mass Disruption

Thirty Years on the Front Lines of a Media Revolution
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
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Excerpt

Do you have hockey scars?

I only have one, though I don’t recall getting it.

I was about three and playing ball hockey in the driveway with the neighbor kids. As my mom remembers it, I ran inside crying and bleeding from the corner of my left eye. The game must have gotten crazy, or maybe it was just because I was a motor-mouthed hyperactive kid who hadn’t developed proper balancing skills yet, because I had apparently ran into the brick corner of my garage.

My mom patched me up, the tears soon stopped, and I started to run back outside.

“Where are you going?” my mom asked.

I yelled back, “I gotta finish the game!”

It’s what Don Cherry would call a “Good Ol’ Canadian Boy” moment—but sadly, I don’t have one that relates to actual ice.

Why?

I never played the game.

I’ll get into the how and why of that a little bit later but it never really bothered me that I never played “real” hockey. OK, maybe it bothered me a little. I might have fantasized about scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal as a kid but I knew I wasn’t destined to be a star athlete. I wanted something different.

I remember watching Coach’s Corner as a kid. Do you know the opening scene in Anchorman, when Ron Burgundy is introduced? There’s a scene where Burgundy comes on the TV at a bar and a biker loudly shouts, “Hey, everybody! Shut the hell up! Ron Burgundy’s on!” That is exactly the way Don Cherry and Ron MacLean were treated in Canada in my childhood. When I was watching with my parents, aunts, uncles, and other family members, it was the same way.

Ron and Don would appear in the first intermission and yell and scream at each other. There’s no way I understood what the hell they were talking about: what I was paying attention to, even from the age of four or five, was how the adults reacted.

From one utterance to another, my family would go from laughing at Ron and Don to laughing with them. That was fascinating to me. As a kid, all you want is for grown-ups to pay attention to you and take you seriously. Every Saturday, Ron and Don had the attention of millions around the country. More importantly from my little perspective, they had the attention of every adult in my house. To me, that was just as incredible as any Doug Gilmour goal, any Wendel Clark hit, or any Felix Potvin flashy glove save.

Fast forward about a of a quarter century later, I’m sitting in a restaurant in Whitby, Ontario with three friends. I look up and Ron and Don are talking about Jarome Iginla on Coach’s Corner. At least that’s what I assumed they were talking about because the sound was off.

A few minutes later, I looked down at my phone. I had text messages from 17 different people, missed calls, voicemails, and a bunch of Facebook notifications.

I’m not even kidding when I say my first thought was that somebody must have died.

“OMG CALL ME RIGHT NOW!” my wife messaged me. About a dozen messages from others were some variation of “HOLY SHIT!!!”

What had happened was Ron MacLean said my name on Coach’s Corner live on Hockey Night in Canada. Apparently he had seen a video that I had made for Sportsnet about how Jarome Iginla should have been named one of the NHL’s Top 100 players of all-time.

“We’ve never met Steve Dangle but he said he should have been one of the 100,” Ron said.

“Who?” Don interrupted.

“Steve Dangle. He’s on Hockey Central every weeknight,” Ron explained.

Don then built off of that by talking about how it was ludicrous that Evgeni Malkin wasn’t one of the Top 100 either but that was all I needed.

So, how the hell did it happen?

Whether you’re a fan of mine, you can’t stand me, or you have no idea who the hell I am, I want to give you my sincerest thanks for picking up this book. Time is precious and every single day there are new ways for us to spend it. The fact that you, whoever you are, would choose to spend some time on this book or listen to my manic hockey rants is truly an honour.

I love reading books or hearing stories from hockey broadcasters about how they got to where they are. The trend with most of them however is that they tend to be older—in their 50s, 60s, 70s; not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, these books are from accomplished individuals who have lead interesting lives.

What I think you might find interesting about this book is that I don’t have the profile of those guys. I haven’t been on national television in Canada for three decades. In fact, I started writing this book at just 29-years-old, when I’d only been out of my parents’ house for three years.

That’s just it – I’m still in the thick of it, trying to establish myself in sports media, an industry that appears to be shrinking every single day.

If you are a younger person looking to establish yourself in sports, broadcasting, or anything else for that matter, my hope is that you will find the stories of me desperately trying to get my foot in the door over and over again relatable and proof that you should never give up. Likewise, I’m going to open up and be vulnerable with you by explaining all of the dumb mistakes I’ve made while trying to stick my foot in as many sports broadcasting doors as possible. My hope is that you can read about my silly mistakes and learn from them. If nothing else, I hope they make you laugh.

And if you’re a bit older? Well, I hope this gives you a better idea of what younger people are going through right now as they try to establish their own career and identity. I’m also pretty sure you will find many of the stories in this book relatable as well, because even though industries and technology are constantly evolving, humans are still just human…

Some of us just yell more than others.

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Hello, Friends!

Hello, Friends!

Stories from My Life and Blue Jays Baseball
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

The Bat Flip

 

October 14, 2015, will always be remembered for the bat flip and a cherished moment in my Blue Jays career at the microphone. Yes, that was the day that Jose Bautista in the 7th inning of the final and deciding game of the ALDS against Texas finished off one of the most famous and bizarre playoff innings in major league history. An inning that took a phenomenal 53 minutes to play. 

Texas had taken the lead in the top of the inning on a throw back to the mound by catcher Russ Martin that hit the bat of Shin-Soo Choo in the batters’ box. Roughed Odor was allowed to score from third base after the ball was initially ruled a dead ball. Texas took a 3-2 lead. The crowd went berserk. In the bottom of the inning three softly hit ground balls amazingly led to three straight Texas errors loading the bases. It reminded me of the old adage in baseball: “Theres no such thing as a routine ground ball.

With the infield drawn in, a little pop up out behind second base resulted in a force out at second as a run scored to tie the game 3-3 leaving runners at the corners. Up stepped Jose Bautista off right-handed reliever Sam Dyson. On the 1-1 pitch Bautista hit the biggest home run of his career. As the ball sailed toward deep left centre field I simply said: “Yes! (pause) Sir! (pause) THERE! (pause) SHE! (pause) GOES!” The thunderous applause filled our crowd mic for a full 40 seconds. Bautista paused for a moment as he watched the ball fly over the wall. As the crowd erupted, Bautista then tossed his bat high over his shoulder toward the Rangers first base dugout. His famous – or infamous depending on which side you came down on – bat flip was the exclamation point.

People have asked me many times since, how I felt about Jose’s bat-flip. I tell them I feel exactly the same way former Blue Jays pitcher and later Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Dave Stewart felt about it:

 

In today’s game, what Jose Bautista did, that’s acceptable. I’ve got to tell you, there’s no better professional than he is. There’s no better guy and no better teammate than he is. So I don’t think it was to show up the other side. I don’t believe that. I just think that’s how they play today, and displays of emotion when you do something great – especially on that platform in that moment – that’s just today’s game.

 

The season would end on a Friday night October 23 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City with a heart-breaking 4-3 loss in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. In that game Bautista hit two home runs and drove in all three runs. His two-run home run in the top of the 8th inning dramatically tied the game 3-3 only to see the Royals score a run in the bottom of the 8th and then hold on to win it in the 9th as the Blue Jays left runners at 2nd and 3rd.

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