Hard work, dedication, perseverance...Words which have all been used to describe professional athletes. When these athletes are no longer able to compete, most transition their skills into another field. Ricky Bottalico, is a prime example of how these skills can be successfully transferred into a post athletic career.
If you live in Philadelphia, you are very familiar with Ricky. You either see him on Comcast SportsNet's Daily News Live, or Phillies Pre and Post Game Live. You hear his voice on several radio shows, and on one special broadcast of the Clearwater Threshers game, as a color commentator. Ricky Bottalico may be the hardest working man in Philadelphia.
Ricky has developed a special place in the hearts of Phillies fans. Maybe it is the fact that he works so hard, or maybe it's the fact that he is so good at what he does. But to me the thing about Ricky which makes his so endearing to the fans of Philadelphia, is his ability to think like a Phillies fan. He is not afraid to show his displeasure with a play or a player. He is like that friend you watch the game with, only smarter, more experienced and a much sharper dresser.
I had the honor of interviewing Ricky Bo on Comcast's new XFINITY Couch located in the front row at Citizens Bank Park. The couch is part of a new campaign by Comcast which gives a few lucky fans, the ability to watch the game from the "best seats in the house".
I sat down with Ricky on the red XFINITY Couch located next to the visitor's dugout on Wednesday.
Describe your transition from player to analyst.
You know what; it wasn't as difficult as you would think. Out in the bullpen you constantly talk about the ball game, talk about hitters, you know all of what's going on in front of you. So it wasn't that hard. The hardest thing was dressing up and getting used to the cameras, and being able to express yourself on T.V. For me it took a little while, it doesn't just happen overnight, but you really have to have confidence in yourself and confidence in what you're saying.
If you were still a reliever, would a pitching staff like this change your gameday approach day in and day out?
I think so, for me being in the back of the bullpen, you really need to be prepared, to say to yourself, look, I have Roy on the mound going 7, 8 then I'm going to get in the game right after that, so be prepared. Prepare yourself in the 5th inning to be in that game in the 9th.
And even as a long guy in that situation I'd say to myself, well this is a day off. I'm going to go take a nap, or just sit out in the bullpen and mess around with the guys, because you know in that type of situation that your day could be over within an hour. So there are different ways to look at it from different perspectives out in the bullpen.
If you had to choose a Cy Young Award winner right now in Major League Baseball, who gets it?
I think Jair Jurrjens right now, but I do believe that Cole Hamels is a close second. And I know a lot of people look at this and say, ‘What about Roy Halladay?' Roy Halladay has been great, but for me the most consistent pitcher on this Phillies staff has been Cole Hamels.
How has the game of baseball changed since you played for the Phillies a few years ago?
I think number one pitching has taken over. From the steroid era that we played in, things have changed recently. I wouldn't say it is hugely noticeable, but it is noticeable. In the statistics and the way players are attacked now a day. There's not as much one on one, here's a fastball I'm coming after you. There's a lot of movement now on the mound, a lot of off-speed pitches. Especially in the National League, you see a lot of change ups. The biggest thing is players don't throw inside anymore.
In your eyes, what do the Phillies need to do heading into the All-Star Break?
I still think a right handed bat, possibly off the bench. I think I'd improve the bench a little bit. Besides that you have problems in the bullpen with your long guy is maybe a 5th, 6th inning guy but that's not a real big problem. When you start to look at the big picture of everything, there are a lot of teams that are going to be going into that playoff race and the trading deadline saying, ‘Where am I getting an ace pitcher?' The Phillies don't have that issue. As long as you have a good pitching staff, which they do right now, you should be pretty well set.
Do you think it will be hard to get those pieces?
I think it will be very hard to get a right handed power hitter. The rest of the pieces, if you are looking for a bench player, you might wait for the waiver wire after the trading deadline or bring somebody up, but for the most part I think a lot is going to be status quo.
What are your thoughts on Comcast's XFINITY Couch campaign? Is this one of the coolest things you have seen in baseball in a while?
Let me tell you something, I love the concept. It's a comfortable couch, it's got your beverage holders, but the location to the field is tremendous. You talk about right next to the dugout. You're just off the field, you can't ask for anything better. It's impressive.