In this week’s edition of “Conversations with Clayton,” I shoot the breeze with Larry Granillo, the man who is the world expert on home run trots.
He is the father of the Tater Trot Tracker and the author of the baseball blog, Wezen Ball.
In a wide ranging discussion, Larry and I talk about the greatest home run trotters of all time, life as a Brewers fan and the 2010 Cincinnati Reds.
Clayton Trutor (CT): Tell me about the “Tater Trot Tracker.”
Larry Granillo (LG): The Tater Trot Tracker was a site that I ran for five or six years that tracked and measured how long it took major leaguers to round the bases after hitting a home run. Each day at lunch, I would pull up the highlights from every game and time every home run trot hit that day. Sometimes that would be only 15 or 20, but sometimes it would be 40 or 50. It was a lot of fun (even if it did mean watching 5,000 home runs a year) and it gave me a completely new way to look at baseball, which is something that I didn’t think was possible. And who knew that there was something similar about guys like Adam Rosales, Billy Hamilton, David Ortiz, Victor Martinez and Scott Rolen that we could appreciate?!
CT: Who would be your All-Star lineup of Home Run trotters?
LG: That’s a tough one. Let’s see what I can put together. I’ll ignore the DH to make it slightly easier.
C: Victor Martinez (consistently one of the slowest trotters in baseball)
1B: David Ortiz (the king of all slow trots)
2B: Derek Dietrich (one of the fastest in the league)
SS: Adam Rosales (the king of the quick trots)
3B: Scott Rolen (the fastest, most consistent power hitter I ever tracked)
OF: Andrew McCutchen (quick and consistent)
OF: Carlos Gomez (very fast and very fun to watch circle the bases)
OF: Yoenis Cespedes (he can be very fast or very slow)
CT: As a Brewers fan, what do you regard as the greatest misconception about Milwaukee’s major league baseball team?
LG: You know about the old ball-and-glove logo, right? That the letters “M” and “B” are hidden in the logo? If you’ve never seen it before, it will blow your mind!
Aside from that, I’m not sure what to say because I’m not all that sure how other fanbases view the Brewers. Most reactions I get when talking about the Brewers are about the small market nature of the team and how tough it can be to get everything to line up together for the team to have a good shot at contending. But that’s something that’s true about a lot of teams in baseball and other sports. Meanwhile, Brewers fans support their team like few others, with Miller Park ranking in the top 10 or 15 for attendance every year despite being in the smallest market (or one of the smallest markets, at least) in baseball. Milwaukee is a great baseball town that loves its team and I can’t wait to see how they celebrate a World Series.
CT: What is a “wezen-ball”?
LG; There’s not a great story to the name, sadly. When I first started blogging, I realized that I needed a name of some kind and I didn’t know what to call it. “Wezen” is the name of a star in the constellation Canis Major that I liked so I went with that. I admit it’s kind of confusing, but at least no one else was trying to use that name!
CT: In what states are you the most and least qualified to live?
LG: Hmm, interesting question. I’ve lived in California, Wisconsin and Vermont throughout my life, which apparently means that I like beer and cheese. Come to think of it, it’s a tie between all of those three!
CT: What is your favorite book about baseball?
LG: Can I say “Sandlot Peanuts”? It’s a collection of nothing but baseball strips starring Charlie Brown and Snoopy and the gang published in the 1970s. As someone who grew up loving “Peanuts” and baseball, that’s about as great as it can get. The extended series following Snoopy as he tries to break Babe Ruth’s career home run record before Hank Aaron is worth the price on its own.
But if you want a more traditional book, I really recommend “The Only Rule is It Has to Work”, by my old Baseball Prospectus colleagues Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh. It’s a book about two baseball stat writers taking over an independent baseball team for a season, trying to make it work both on the field and in the clubhouse.
CT: If you were a minor league baseball player, which song would serve as your walk-up music?
LG: Veteran catcher Damian Miller used to walk up to the plate in Milwaukee to various Pearl Jam songs. I think “Even Flow” was the one he used most often. It would almost certainly be something similar for me. Maybe “Given to Fly”.
CT: Describe the worst seats you’ve ever had at a sporting event.
LG: My very first NHL game was down in Anaheim in 2001 or so, when the Ducks were really bad. About halfway through the 200 mile drive to the greater LA area, we realized we left the Ducks tickets back home. We ended up getting the cheapest seats possible just to get in the building. They were about at the ceiling behind the net, up the steepest set of stairs I’ve ever seen in a sporting venue. It felt like I would tumble down the full length of the deck if I so much as bent down to tie my shoelaces. We ended up sneaking down to some prime seats later in the game (which the Ducks only won 1-0 in overtime*).
CT: Describe your greatest sports video game victory.
LG: I would love to say that it came in a tense MLB The Show game or even an old MLB ‘99 or MVP Baseball 2005 game, but the truth is I was always much more likely to lose spectacularly in those games than pull out a great victory. Instead, it would have to be an NBA 2K2 game where I stole the inbounds pass at the baseline with one second left and sank the shot to win by one. That’s a demoralizing way to lose (for my opponent, at least)!
CT: When you hear the word “Cincinnati,” you think of ________
LG: Scott Rolen and the 2010 Reds, who were by far the team that I had the most fun tracking throughout the entire history of the Tater Trot Tracker. Rolen paced the club by racing out each and every one of his 20 home runs in 18 seconds flat every time, and his veteran leadership clearly rubbed off on the rest of the team. That team was a joy to watch round the bases every night.
Follow Larry Granillo on Twitter: @wezen_ball
For more of the same, follow me on Twitter: @ClaytonTrutor