The reason I love sports is because of the competitive nature, theatrics and uncertainty of the result. That is why these Olympics have been so frustrating; I like the thrill and the heartbreak. Adrenalin rushing through your veins is an amazing feeling. CNN, ESPN and other news outlets have taken that away from us. Media blackouts are nearly impossible, not to mention “Billy Bob” who is proud of ‘Merica and wants to wave the flag for “beating the redcoats like we did in the Revolutionary War.”
America is a sports-crazed nation. We love our sports and we need them more than we realize. They are an intrinsic part of our economy and our nation’s well-being. The news of sport can trump even the biggest “traditional” news story. That’s exactly what happened the other night, when a lowly intern for the Dayton Cubs was tossed. As Derek Dye dominated the news cycle and made appearances on staples such as Good Morning America and SportsCenter, he took some time to chat with me, thanks to the Cubs broadcaster Dave Walkovic. You can hear Walkovic dropping a Ken “Hawk” Harrelson-esque catchphrase, “put him in the box score” in this video.
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Dye is a just a 21-year-old unpaid intern from the University of Illinois. The Illinois native is paying his dues as he claws his way to his dream of working in the Chicago Cubs front office. Much like their contemporaries on the field, MiLB staffers are working their way up to the next level, honing their skills and enduring the hardships before earning their payday.
As a front office intern, Dye was expected to make sales calls, clean the stadium, assist patrons and be a jack-of-all trades at the drop of a hat. Sometimes you need to wear a costume for an on-field game. Sometimes you get the “cushy” job and get to hang in the air conditioned press box, eat the catered food and play the sound effects for the stadium. As an intern in the minor leagues, and I speak from experience, you’re told to expect the unexpected. However, August 1and the following days went beyond the unexpected.
The incident started because of a questionable call by home plate umpire Mario Seneca. Cubs manager Brian Harper came out to argue and Dye decided to play some interlude music, a common practice, but Seneca took exception to the Wrigley-esque vibe the Chicago’s high-A affiliate was going for. With a simple few notes of a nursery rhyme as old as time (see what I did there), Dye may have unlocked this decade’s version of “boom goes the dynamite.” After realizing it was their starry, blue-eyed intern and not the gristly veteran manager, broadcaster Robbie Aaron, in shock and awe, belted out four simplistic words: “That is absolutely awesome.” Walkovic followed with his newfound words of wisdom, “put him in the box score.” Walkovic assures me that the broadcast won’t be producing a novelty tee, “unless it is demanded by a large fan base.”
Seneca demanded that the music and public address system be shut down for the rest of the game. That’s not a bad two-for-one deal in Dye’s first ejection. A moment that he admits wasn’t as happy-go-lucky as Aaron made it seem on the telecast. Said Dye: “Once it all set in, it felt surreal. Disbelief … I started thinking of the worst-case scenario, which would be the GM getting word of it and letting me hear it.”
Besides the annoyance of not being able to add the bells and whistles that add to the league’s second-best attended stadium, that’s where you would think the story would end. Maybe in the pre-Internet era, a few local mediums would have picked up the story, but with viral videos being a source of entertainment, Dye became a bona fide sensation in a matter of hours.
A lot of credit must go to general manager Brad Ballard and his decision to embrace the incident. The media relations staff also did great work by informing their fan base just minutes later with this Facebook post:
“We’ve just entered the twilight zone at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Our music man, Derek Dye, has been EJECTED from tonight’s game. The umpire, Mario Seneca, was apparently not happy when Derek played ‘Three Blind Mice’ after a questionable call. With no music system, a fan has stepped up to call out player introductions from the stands.”
From there it was a trending topic on Twitter; MLB Network gave Dye’s phone a ring, and Good Morning America wanted to take up a few of Dye’s 15 minutes of fame. However, none of those gave Dye the thrill of SportsCenter. Dye explains, “I watch that show every day, and to think that I can now say I was on the show – it’s pretty special.”
It seemed like Dye’s name was everywhere, from the New York to Los Angeles Times and everything in between. The sensation continued to grow, but being an unpaid intern as a senior in college, in a few short months, Dye will be hitting the job market with uncertainly like so many of his peers. How will the executives view this onslaught of media? Time will tell, but the easygoing Dye was optimistic, “It may hurt me as far as a job in the Florida State League or Minor League Baseball, but in the grand scheme of things – anytime you can get your name worldwide – it’s not a bad thing.”
As the firestorm settles, I was told Dye is on a media blackout, what is he going to do with the remaining moments of this whirlwind moment? Dye’s video has over 500,000 hits on YouTube. Could Daniel Tosh’s show Tosh.0 be in his future, much like it was for the Phillies’ fan that was shot with a taser for running on the field? Dye said, “Of course. I am just kind of riding the wave right now but it would be hard to turn down an opportunity like that.”
Finally, realizing the uniqueness of his situation, Dye took Twitter to say, “If nothing else, I have a new pick-up line… ‘My name is Derek Dye and I’ve been ejected from a baseball game”.
That’s a line that Dye describes as “bulletproof.” Now, who would he like to use that golden line on? Kristen Bell of course. Dye’s final minutes of ejection fame may be spent making a video like the two Marines did last year for Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. Although, Dye may have some competition with Bell’s fiance, Dax Shepard. But has he ever been tossed from a baseball game?
Dye’s right, his line is bulletproof.