Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves is the self-appointed captain of a special police unit formed this season to monitor the home run trots of other MLB players. This unit is called "Homers Universally Receive Recognition Yet Insensitive Trotting Unleashes Punishment," otherwise known as "HURRYITUP."
McCann's unit has detained guilty parties with increasing regularity. Despite undertaking a personal crusade against disrespectful home run trots, though, he has knowingly turned a blind eye to the dirt being done in his own district.
In the span of less than two months, McCann has served three arrest warrants for the crime of "loitering on the base paths while executing a home run trot."
Here is a review of the three incidents, starting with the most recent incident and working backwards:
SEPT. 25, 2013. ATLANTA, GA:
The Atlanta Braves were playing the Milwaukee Brewers when center fielder Carlos Gomez hit a home run off Braves starter Paul Maholm in the top of the first inning. Barry Petchesky of DeadSpin.com gives an excellent account of both the incident and the prior history between Gomez and Maholm:
It started after Carlos Gomez took his time rounding the bases after homering off Paul Maholm, jawing at three different Braves along the way. But if you ask Gomez, it really started when Maholm hit him with a pitch back in June. Gomez was hit by Maholm on June 23, his second HBP at the hands of Maholm, and he believes it was intentional and has been biding his time. "I've been in the league seven years," he said, "and I know when I get hit on purpose and when not." Gomez stood at the plate for a second, admiring his blast. He claims he "didn't disrespect anybody"—he merely told Maholm, "You hit me, I hit you. Now we're even." At first base, Freddie Freeman says he told Gomez "to act like he’d done it before on the bases and start running." As he rounded third, catcher Brian McCann came up the line to meet him. No one would say afterward what pleasantries the two exchanged—Gomez called them "bad words"—and benches emptied.
The most interesting participant in all this was McCann, who became so incensed by Gomez's actions that he actually prevented Gomez from crossing home plate. Barry Petchesky explained how this violation was resolved, writing that "Gomez was awarded a home run, even though he didn't touch the plate. The official ruling was that McCann obstructed the runner, and DeMuth gave the run to Milwaukee."
In this case, McCann felt that enforcing his squad's only directive was more important than enforcing the rules of baseball.
SEPT. 11, 2013. MIAMI, FL:
Two weeks to the day before the incident in Atlanta involving Gomez, McCann and the Braves were in a nearly identical incident in Miami. This time the circumstances centered around rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez and his first major league home run.
Mark Townsend of Yahoo! Sports provides a detailed description of the incident and the events that immediately preceded it:
It seemed to begin boiling over in the top half of the sixth inning when Atlanta Braves rookie Evan Gattis...took Fernandez deep for a solo home run. That would be the only run Fernandez allowed in seven innings...but he clearly took exception to the extra second or two Gattis took to admire his home run...We move ahead to bottom of the inning. In what proved to be his final at-bat of the season, Fernandez muscled up for his first career home run — a no-doubter to left center field — and let's just say he took a second or two beyond what Gattis did to admire his own power. The message Fernandez was sending was pretty clear, but I don't think the Braves appreciated the delivery...when Fernandez arrived at the plate, an angry Brian McCann was there to greet him...A heated exchange led to the benches clearing out.
So let me get this straight: A 27-year-old rookie outfielder can hotdog it around the bases when he hits the 19th home run of his young career. But when a 21-year-old rookie pitcher showboats after hitting the first home run of his MLB career, that's crossing the line?
AUG. 6, 2013. WASHINGTON, DC:
The trot heard round the world. This is the incident that spawned the creation of "HURRYITUP."
Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper was drilled in the fifth inning of this game, causing benches to clear as Harper barked at Braves starter Julio Teheran, according to Mike Oz of Yahoo! Sports. Meanwhile, McCann had to be held back while Harper walked to first base, as the Braves' catcher once again became a central figure in the incident. That seems to be McCann's M.O.
To fully understand this incident, however, we must consult the expert testimony of the most respected opinion in the field of home run trots. Larry Granillo has created a website called TaterTrotTracker.com to record, track and analyze the home run trots of MLB players. He provides his detailed analysis of the events of Aug. 6:
Early in the Braves/Nationals tilt at Nationals Park, Bryce Harper crushed a ball off Atlanta starter Julio Teheran to centerfield, just to the left of the batter's eye...Harper was busy watching the ball sail out of there before embarking on his trot. Apparently, there was also a bat toss...Now, let's get this straight. Harper ran out his trot much slower than he usually does. In fact, the trot was the slowest of Harper's career by more than 1.5 seconds! And was nearly five seconds slower than his career average trot! That's bad! Of course, it was still also only 23.66 seconds long. There have been more than 200 trots so far this season of that same rough duration and none of them caused a plunking on the very next pitch the batter saw!
Did you read that last statement, Mr. McCann?
This incident further reveals the hypocrisy of McCann's self-righteous vendetta against deliberate home run trots. Harper rarely trots that slowly, and may have been doing so in direct response to a painfully slow home run trot by Justin Upton of those same Atlanta Braves the night before. Larry Granillo delved further into that theory:
One other thing to note about the Harper trot: the night before, the Braves beat the Nationals thanks to a late-inning blast from Justin Upton. That shot sailed down the left field line, with Upton taking his time around the bases...Overall, the trot from Upton took 27.36 seconds -- nearly four seconds slower than Harper! There's a decent chance that Harper took his sweet time (relatively speaking) in response to Upton's slow trot.
Furthermore, in the video of Upton's home run on Aug. 5, McCann did not bark at his teammate for taking such a long time to round the bases. Funny how that works.
Brian McCann has no right to play judge, jury and executioner regarding the home run trots of other MLB players until he first adjudicates the home run trots of his own teammates. In the meantime, this case will remain open as the increasing instability of HURRYITUP warrants constant vigilance. Furthermore, opposing teams could seek retribution for past incidents. Stay tuned for further developments in the field.
Note: All statistics courtesy of MLB.com unless noted otherwise.