Former Philadelphia Phillies reliever Ricky Bottalico goes from Mr. Mom to Mr. Angry
January 25—Ricky Bottalico has spent most of his adult life throwing a baseball for a living.
He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies at age 21 and was an All-Star reliever five years later.
But when he was released by the Baltimore Orioles late in spring training in 2006, he was 36 and unsure of his future.
“When I took my first year off from baseball, I didn’t know what to do,” Bottalico said last week before being one of the guest speakers at the 60th Annual Reading Hot Stovers Banquet at the DoubleTree Hotel. by Hilton in Reading. “I had two little girls and I was like, ‘OK, play with the girls.’ How long could you play with your two kids each day I mean I love my girls but girls 24/7 for 365 is not easy And I give a lot of credit to those stay-at-home moms and dads for that.
“It really came from boredom. My first job came because I was bored doing nothing.”
Bottalico went from delivering fastballs to analyzing. He went from Mr. Mom to self-nicknamed Mr. Angry.
He became a staple of the Phillies’ pre-game and post-game shows on NBC Sports Philadelphia, popular for being chatty, opinionated and outspoken.
“Think about my job,” said Bottalico, 52, who became a television analyst for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in their inaugural season in 2008 and then started his current gig a year later. “My job is to go and watch a baseball game and then talk about it. Let’s face it, sometimes some games are long and boring. But you know what, it’s a job that if you love the game, you love doing it. “
He’s the perfect fit for Philadelphia, where he spent two stints during his playing career (1994-98, 2001-02) and was an All-Star in 1996. He’s not afraid to criticize the team and seems to be taking losses, especially the sloppy one. those – as hard as diehard fans. Just listen to one of his post-game rants to see Mr. Angry come to life.
“I don’t mind,” he said. “Because the way I look at it, I feel like I’m talking like the person who’s sitting on the couch. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m not really trying to be that. That’s just how I am. And I’ve always been that way. If you sit with me and watch a football game, I’m the same. So it’s not like, ‘Oh, I have to change. my personality. I go on TV.’ It’s who I am.”
Unsurprisingly, Bottalico had a lot to say during a nearly 23-minute interview about the state of the Phillies and the game of baseball, which is mired in a labor dispute.
The Phillies did little before owners locked players out on Dec. 2. Their biggest moves were signing reliever Corey Knebel and utility Johan Camargo.
“You have to look at the big picture,” said Bottalico, who spent part of the 1993 and 1994 seasons pitching for the Reading Phillies. “You look at where the Mets are right now with what they’ve done. They’ve stepped up. The Marlins are only getting better. The Nationals, you never know what they’re going to have, but the Braves are “The cream of the crop. You’ve got to get as good as the Braves somehow. Can they do that? That’s the question they have to answer this offseason.
And Bottalico wonders if the Phillies will have time to accomplish everything on their to-do list when the work stoppage ends. He figures to be a crazy dash of transactions.
He said he sees the biggest hole the Phillies need to fill as a center fielder. Odubel Herrera, who started the most games in this position last year, will not be back.
“You need someone who can take control of the outfield,” Bottalico said. “They haven’t had that since, what, (Shane) Victorino (who was traded in 2012)? When you really think about it, it’s been a long time.”
The Phillies also need to find a left fielder. They need to find the left side of the infield after third baseman Alec Bohm and shortstop Didi Gregorius struggled a year ago.
The bullpen has been historically incendiary for two seasons now.
Bottalico seemed more optimistic about a starting rotation led by Zack Wheeler and completed by Ranger Suarez. But Aaron Nola, a disappointment in 2021, is another point of uncertainty.
“They have a lot of work to do,” Bottalico said. “When you really think about it, they’ve got a receiver (JT Realmuto). They’ve got a first baseman (Rhys Hoskins); not a great defensive first baseman, but he’s putting up numbers offensively. You’ve got an outfielder right (Bryce Harper) (Jean) Segura is fine in second, other than that, what do you really have?
“You have to look at your question marks before you look at anything else.”
There are just as many questions about when the focus of the game will shift from the negotiating table to the diamond.
Bottalico has seen fan numbers dwindle in recent years – some caused by the pandemic – and said he doesn’t think people will return if games are lost due to the work stoppage.
“My biggest concern is do they know?” said Bottalico, who was a player during the strike in 1994-95. “Do they have any idea the fans are going to leave? It’s a different day and age than it was. You know what, it’s not the only game in town anymore.”
Bottalico said he sees the main problem as stubbornness. In his mind, players want a salary floor, not a ceiling. The owners, of course, have other ideas.
“Too many battles that no one will want to lose,” he said. “They should put them in a room. Stay there until something is done. Go ahead. Here’s a convention center. Go use it. Five guys on each side. And see what happens.”
He spoke about other issues he sees in the game.
On replay: “Get rid of the replays and get rid of those stupid cards (scouting report) (players watch on the pitch), because if you can’t remember what you’re doing, then you shouldn’t be there in the first place.”
On game tempo: “They should be able to throw a white flag in these games at times. I’m serious. If it’s after the seventh inning, you drop 10 runs, throw a white flag. … How about you to have guys who could throw strikes? That would be nice too.
And on the rise of analytics: “I just think everything seems to take longer. And that has a lot to do with analytics. … Sometimes there’s too much information. Too much. But we had this information years ago. It just didn’t come to the field. We had guys upstairs analyzing it, breaking it down and giving it to us. Instead, they see everything. Would you like to be a hitter? Your main goal is to see a 100 mile an hour fastball and reaction. How do you react when your mind goes to 100 different places? Think about it for a second. It’s not not easy.”
Bottalico’s love of baseball and love of conversation is evident. Broadcasting is a natural choice. But when he was at home playing with his daughters Olivia and Sophia all those years ago, wondering what was next, did he imagine that future?
“Harry Kalas (the Phillies’ longtime broadcaster) always said on planes, ‘One day we’ll work together,'” Bottalico said. “So, you know, I guess maybe I did.”