Behind the Beef: Bozied and Rizzotti Speak

arefills.JPGLast week I posted “Roast Beef Initiation”, a four-and-a-half minute comedy video written by and starring Phillies farmhands Tagg Bozied and Matt Rizzotti. The film illuminates an overlooked aspect of the Reading baseball experience: the unique pressures of being the “Arby’s RBI Guy”.

The premise behind the “Arby’s RBI Guy” is simple — if the #4 hitter in the R-Phils’ line-up knocks in a run, fans in attendance can redeem their ticket stubs for a complimentary Roast Beef Sandwich.

Bozied began the season as the regular “Arby’s RBI Guy”, but after getting hurt he was replaced by Rizzotti. Bozied is currently back in his familiar “RBI Guy” role, as Rizzotti received a call-up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley earlier this month.

But regardless who has been tasked with the “RBI Guy” duties, this is a promotion that has been embraced with great enthusiasm by the Reading faithful — perhaps too much enthusiasm, as it turns out.

tagg.jpgBozied and Rizzotti took the time to explain this, and more, during a phone conversation on Friday afternoon. What follows are some of the highlights:

On The Motivation For the Film:

Tagg Bozied: In Reading, you have to walk through the fans [in the concourse] to get from the dugout to the locker room. And one day shortly before the All-Star Break, Matt told me this story, like “You’re not going to believe what this fan just told me.”

Matt Rizzotti: This guy comes up to me and says “Thanks for not getting an RBI, now I’m not eating tonight!’ Then he walked away. He was seriously mad!

TB: It really is funny, especially if you know anything about playing in Reading. One time werizzotti.jpg participated in a kid’s [baseball] clinic, and when we were introduced as the RBI Guys 200 kids immediately started chanting “Roast Beef….Roast Beef.” If you’re part of that culture, you can’t help but embrace it. Both of us did, it changes up the routine from normal everyday life.

MR: It’s funny to think that the whole thing bloomed from a guy telling me how much I sucked….It was just perfect, we took the idea and ran with it.

On the Creative Process

ch.jpgMR: Coming back from the [Eastern League] All-Star Game, we had the whole bus to ourselves. We’re just sitting in the back, and the idea came about that we should make a video. And Tagg was like, “Hold on!” The notepad immediately came out, and we started rattling off ideas. You obviously have to know a bit about Reading to best appreciate things like the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor throwing sandwiches off of my face, or the usher singing the seventh-inning stretch on a two-person bicycle.

TB: We both enjoy movies, and really pay attention to delivery. We wanted it to be funny, and dramatic, and worked real hard on the timing and the body language.

On the Movie’s Most Memorable Scene (aka: “Roast Beef to the Face”)

MR: [Crazy Hot Dog Vendor] Matt Jackson is a really nice guy, so he was hesitant, like,rb2.jpg “Dude, I don’t want to throw sandwiches at your face.” We were like “You will get angry, and you will launch roast beef sandwiches off of my face!” That was the only way it was going to look good. It took a few takes because he kept missing, but the first hit really started an onslaught.

TB: I couldn’t stop laughing, it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen.

MR: Yeah, it’s not every day that you get roast beef sandwiches launched off of your face.

kk2.jpgTB: I’m just glad we were able to document this. Playing in the Minor Leagues, you end up doing a lot of stupid stuff to keep entertained, and just have to celebrate it for what it is. This kind of thing, it’s what you do to keep your mind relaxed.

On Their Filmmaking Future

TB: We had a good time doing this, but if we do anything else it might not be as good. Like Karate Kid II.

MR: Or Back to the Future III….Next year, if me and Tagg are on the same team, then maybe we could do one or two more videos. But, I don’t know, it would be tough to beat this one. It just had a…

TB: Mystique.

MR: Yeah, mystique! See, that’s Tagg. He’s always there for me.
—————————————————————————————————————————————

And now, an encore presentation of “Roast Beef Initiative,” written, directed, and starring Tagg Bozied and Matt Rizzotti. Andy Kauffman, the Reading Phillies video director, handled production duties.
 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

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