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Carroll’s Column: Future in the Booth for Adam Ottavino

Adam Ottavino re-signed with the Mets this offseason for one-year/$4.5 million - Image credit: Simon Lindenblatt/Latino Sports

NEW YORK — In any offseason, with free agents signing each week over the course of the winter, there are many moves that may go under the radar. Especially when it comes to the pitching department, as the need for starting pitching and bullpen help is a huge issue for teams across MLB this season.       

Mets setup relief pitcher Adam Ottavino was the Mets’ most dependable relief pitcher in April, and that includes closer Edwin Díaz. At age 38, Ottavino is showing that a veteran pitcher can learn new things. He has been nicely mixing off-speed pitches with a still-potent fastball. He has also worked hard at keeping runners closer to first base with an improved pickoff move. Last year, opposing runners stole more bases off Ottavino than any other reliever.

Adam Ottavino has posted a 2.92 ERA this season in 12 appearances – Image Credit: Simon Lindenblatt/Latino Sports

While he has no immediate plans to call it a career, Ottavino knows he is one of the oldest current players, and a post-baseball life is near. During the offseason, Ottavino was an occasional panelist on SNY’s weekday 6PM show, “Baseball Night in New York.”      

It is rare for a current player to take part in a sports opinion show like “Baseball Night in New York,” especially with the advent of social media where every slip of the tongue is magnified. Ottavino, with his telegenic looks, and self-effacing humor, was a hit.      

BNNY host Sal Licata asked him in November if he thought prized free agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto would be impressed that Mets CEO Steve Cohen, and team president of baseball operations, David Stearns, flew to Japan to meet with him. Ottavino, who himself was a free agent at the time, quickly replied, “I would be impressed if an owner just picked up the phone and called me!”   

Adam Ottavino has 21 strikeouts this year in 12 appearances – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

I chatted with Adam Ottavino before last Tuesday’s Cubs-Mets game about what he would like to do after he hangs up his uniform for good. “I want to stay in the game in some capacity. Broadcasting certainly interests me.”    

The Mets TV broadcasting team of Flushing native Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez are now in their 19th year of working together. They make up arguably the best local broadcasting booth in the majors. The reality is Keith Hernandez is 70, and Ron Darling, while just 63, does national baseball broadcasts for Turner Sports. It is conceivable both men reduce their current SNY Mets game obligations.      

I asked Ottavino, a Park Slope native, if he wanted to join the Mets television team in case real estate opens there. “I would absolutely love to do that. There is a lot I want to say about baseball and being able to do so during a game is ideal. Studio shows don’t allow you that luxury,” he replied without hesitation.    

After debuting in 2010 with the Cardinals, and pitching for the Rockies from 2012-2018, Adam Ottavino pitched for the Yankees from 2019 & 2020, and then spent 2021 with the Red Sox, which was followed up by his three-year tenure with the Mets – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

SNY may not be the only suitor for Ottavino’s services. ESPN hired him to cover the 2023 Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, The MLB Network has utilized him as an analyst on its “MLB Tonight Show.”      

Ottavino, having played in the pressure cooker of New York for both the Mets and the Yankees, will impress sports TV executives.    

Friday Night Roundtable with Phillies radio team on WIP 

 Speaking of broadcasting, the Phillies radio team of Scott Franzke, Larry Andersen, Kevin Stocker, and Gregg Murphy hold a “Friday Night Roundtable” after games on the team’s flagship station, WIP. What makes it a fun listen is these guys will discuss not just baseball, but classic movies and television shows, as well as mundane things as whether they separate their laundry into color and white washes. It is a chance for listeners to learn about another side of their voices of summer, and it’s genuine fun.    

Philadelphia Phillies superstar Bryce Harper – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

WCBS, the radio home of the Mets, is owned by Audacy, just as WIP is. Mets play-by-play broadcaster, and Bayside native, Howie Rose was unfamiliar with “The Phillies Roundtable,” but was intrigued by the concept. Rose loves to discuss pop music, classic TV shows, and movies. I have little doubt Rose’s younger colleagues, Keith Raad and Pat McCarthy, would shine as well if they were to create a “Mets Friday Night Roundtable.”    

Mets hold Dollar Dog Night at Citi Field 

The Mets, with the backing of Nathan’s, held Dollar Dog Night at Citi Field last Tuesday night at Citi Field. The Mets employed 97-year-old fan Seymour Weiner to be their spokesman for the event because he has always been a good sport about his last name. Since Nathan’s was the sponsor, and its Coney island hot dog eating contest is only two months away, I was hoping the Mets would have perennial Yellow Mustard Belt winner Joey Chestnut throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Héctor Neris and his time in Philly 

Héctor Neris, who is currently the Cubs closer, started his career in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, and was with them for over a decade.

Héctor Neris, of Villa Altagracia, Dominican Republic, signed with the Cubs this offseason – Image Credit: MLB

I asked him if he missed the City of Brotherly Love. “I loved Philadelphia but the fans there take their sports too seriously!” he said with a laugh. He has that right. 

Update on Jose Cuas 

Cubs media relations director John Steinmiller told me relief pitcher Jose Cuas is currently playing for the team’s Triple-A team in Des Moines. Cuas is a Ridgewood resident who worked as a UPS driver during the COVID pandemic and worked out at Metropolitan Oval to stay in pitching shape.               

Life on the Green, by original air personality on WFAN Ann Liguori, available now

Ann Liguori was an original air personality on WFAN, and for many years you could hear her reports on golf and tennis on the station. “What’s the story, Ann Liguori?” was a frequently run promo the station used for her. The East End resident is still active in the media and has authored a book about her conversations over the years with pros on both the PGA and LPGA Tour titled “Life on the Green” (Hatherleigh Press).     

Front Cover of Life on the Green, by Ann Liguori – Image Credit: Hatherleigh Press

Few people have the Rolodex Ann Liguori does, and her conversations with Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Nancy Lopez, and so many others are fascinating. On a serious note, Player recalls the abuse fellow pro, Charlie Sifford, received at many tournaments in the 1950s and early 1960s because of the color of his skin. On a far lighter note, Nancy Lopez recalls the time she met Tom Selleck at a Lionel Richie concert. 

My Mother and Me, by veteran boxing writer Thomas Hauser, available now

Mother’s Day is an ideal time to pick up a copy of veteran boxing writer Thomas Hauser’s memoir about his mom, aptly titled “My Mother and Me” (Admission Press).

Front Cover of My Mother and Me, by Thomas Hauser – Image Credit: Admission Press

His mom worked at the New Yorker at a time few women were in the business or media worlds. Hauser makes her sound like a real-life version of Beatrice Arthur’s “Maude” which fans of the Norman Lear 1970s CBS comedy will fondly remember.    

Hulu and Peacock running a pair of Holocaust-themed mini-series

Given the alarming increase in anti-Semitism, it is fortuitous a pair of streaming services are running Holocaust-themed miniseries which have gotten complimentary reviews. Hulu is showing “We Were the Lucky Ones,” while Peacock is featuring “The Tattooist of Auschwitz.”     

The Equalizer, a Sunday evening action series, renewed by CBS, for a 5th season 

CBS announced last week it was renewing its Sunday evening action series, “The Equalizer,” starring Queen Latifah, for a fifth season. “The Equalizer” shoots many exterior scenes in the World’s Borough.

You can read more of Lloyd Carroll’s columns posted weekly on The Queens Chronicle.

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