By know you've heard that the San Francisco Giants have decided to pack up their bags and move their AAA farm team up Highway 99 to Sacramento. But the Fresno Grizzlies aren't going anywhere. Instead on Thursday they announced a new two-year agreement making them the AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros.
While many loyal Giants and Grizzlies fans greeted the news with dismay or anger, Houston Astros Director of Pro Scouting Kevin Goldstein was more than amused to learn about the city's infamous FAA airport ID code.
I just learned that the three letter airport code for Fresno is FAT and now you can't ruin my day.
— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) September 18, 2014
With that bit of "welcome to Fresno" wonderment in mind, we thought we'd prepare a "Welcome to Fresno" briefing guide for current and future Astros staff, players and fans who might be passing through town in the next few years.
1) Say it slowly
Yes our downtown ballpark has an interesting name. Chukchansi Park opened in 2002, and takes its name from a local Native American tribe, which operates a casino in nearby Madera County. Handy pronunciation guide: chuck-CHANCE-eee
2) Fresno loves tacos
No seriously, Fresno REALLY loves its tacos. Whether you prefer carne asada, adobada, or al pastor, Fresno's army of taco trucks and Mexican restaurants will provide a near endless selection of different taco tasting opportunities. There's even an app dedicated to Fresno's taco community. The Fresno Grizzlies have capitalized on this culinary love affair. On a normal Thursday night the team might draw 7,000-8,000 fans. But on this year's 4th annual Taco Truck Throwdown, over 13,000 fans devoured over 21,000 tacos from 18 different trucks.
3) Bring your boots
It's no Houston Livestock Show, but on the last weekend of every April, Fresno's neighbor Clovis hosts one of California's longest running and most popular annual rodeos. Now over 100 years old the Clovis Rodeo is a stop on the Wrangler Million Dollar Silver Tour.
4) Not everything is bigger in Texas
The Lone Star state may have its fair share of "bigger is better" accolades, but Fresno has a few of its own, especially as the city is the gateway to three national parks. The area boasts:
- Kings Canyon National Park - home to the deepest canyon in the country, even deeper than the Grand Canyon.
- Sequoia National Park - home to the General Sherman tree, the biggest tree in the world, and Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in North America.
- Yosemite National Park - home to Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America.
One of Central California's greatest contributions to BBQ has to be the cut of meat known as Tri Tip. While Santa Maria can claim to be the birthplace of tri-tip, nowhere is it popular more than Fresno. Rarely found east of the Rockies, this triangular cut of beef is from the bottom sirloin. It is often prepared with a spicy dry rub, tri tip is great on its own, or in a sandwich.
6) Eat (and drink) like a local
Yes, Fresno is a town that loves its chains. But Fresno residents also have a soft spot for local institutions as well. We like our pizza from Me-N-Ed's, our tri-tip from Dog House Grill, and our beer from Tioga-Sequoia Brewing.
7) Fresno has a rich baseball history
Fresno has a rich baseball history. Hall of Famers Tom Seaver and Frank Chance (of Tinkers to Evers to Chance fame) both grew up in Fresno, and Hall of Fame Braves manager Bobby Cox is from nearby Selma. Fresno State won the NCAA baseball championship in 2008, and has produced players like former NL MVP Terry Pendelton, and pitchers Mark Gardner, Bobby Jones, Jeff Weaver, Doug Fister and Matt Garza.