Owning a Minor League Baseball Team, The Fresno Tacos, No One Likes Mike Piazza


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Episode Transcript

Benjamin: Hello giants fans and welcome to the San Francisco giants edition of the for the fans by the fans podcast where we bring you a weekly dose of all things San Francisco giants baseball from the Fan's perspective. I'm a lifelong giants fan and your host, Benjamin Shapiro, has the giant sit at one game, over 500 in third place in the NL West, and two games behind in the wild card race. We welcome a very special guest to the pod beats out who is a business development manager in global productivity systems at the Intel Corporation, and while he currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Yi-Jau Ku is both a diehard Colorado rockies fan and a minority owner of the Fresno Grizzlies, a minor league baseball team in the Astros farm system because we have a lot to ask Yi-Jau. We're going to try something new and make this our first two part episode of the FTFBTF podcast, but before Yi-Jau tells us about life. 

Benjamin: As an owner of a professional baseball team. I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you on behalf of our friends at fanatics. Fanatics is the global leader in licensed sports merchandise. They have the world's largest collection of official sports apparel from the leagues, teams and players you love. So if you're a part owner of the Fresno, grizzlies were also known as the Fresno Tacos. You can buy your tacos hat by going to FTFBTF.com/fanatics, or by clicking the link in this podcast. Show notes, and our friends at fanatics will kick us a couple of bucks to help you pay for the production of this show. 

Yi-Jau: Welcome to the for the fans by the fans podcast. Thanks for having me. Happy to talk baseball. 

Benjamin: It's great to have you here. I want to ask you all sorts of things about how you became a minority owner of a baseball team, about the rockies, about the giants, but before we get started with that, we're going to start off with a quick pop quiz. When was the last time you took a quiz? Oh Gosh, probably been 20 years. Well, I want to tell you that we're looking for a 100 percent participation for this quiz, so I'm going to start firing off some questions for you first. Who Wore it better? Charlie blackmon or Brian Wilson. I got to go with black men. I know Wilson Scott, that huge beard, but I mean black man. He's got the bullet and go with it. So if you cut his beard, shaved it. Charlie looks like a baby, but with the beard it's just. So. Anyway, Brian Wilson came out and threw the first pitch of the San Francisco giants season this year and I have to say without the beard, he looked about 15 years younger and older at the same time. I'm jealous because I cannot grow a beard. I don't get anything on the side, so I'm very envious of what they can grow their. 

Yi-Jau: I like it too. Let me ask you, who is on the Mount Rushmore of Colorado rockies players. Oh, top the list probably is todd Helton. He was kind of grown in these farm system. Was a staple at first base. Awesome. Some defense do it all. He's up there. You got thrown Larry Walker or only mvp winner and I'd say probably guys team currently like Nolan Arnotto. He's got five gold gloves to start his career off. He makes difficult plays look so easy. It's a pleasure to watch Nolan and then Charlie blackmon. I mean those guys. Those four are probably the Mount Rushmore. 

Benjamin: Next followup question is, who is your favorite rocky of all time? 

Yi-Jau: I love Dante. The reason why I love him is he was an awesome hitter. He came through in the clutch a lot of times. One of my favorite memories is when they opened course field. It was a 13 extra inning game and he had the walk off hit to win the game and he was always an adventure in the outfield. He wasn't known for his defense, so occasionally he'd have the error, but he'd always make up for it with a bat. 

Benjamin: Can you name the player that played for both the giants and the rockies who hit the longest home run in a t and t park history. 

Yi-Jau: Geez. Does that Ellis burks? 

Benjamin: It is not. It is. Andras Galarraga, 

Yi-Jau: Colorado played for the giants. 

Benjamin: Galarraga played for the giants for a heartbeat and he hit a ball that was probably 475 feet on the way to the baseball glove, which is $500 and one feet away from home plate. So he was the closest to ever hit the glove and hit the longest home run in a t and t park history. 

Yi-Jau: Yeah, because I remember him going to the braves after the rockies and he had a few good years there, but okay. I learned something new. 

Benjamin: It was definitely later on in his career. How long did the farthest homerun ever hit at corus field travel and who hit it 

Yi-Jau: and again, because they had the home run derby there in a game. I think mcguirewoods knocked it out. Was it Mark Mcguire? 

Benjamin: It is Mike Piazza. And the story behind this home run is that it was deemed a 496 foot home run as it was hit by the scoreboard operator in Colorado. And then after the game espn upgraded the Homerun to 515 feet. And other sites have it as far as 540 feet. So that's not just a bomb, that's a nuclear bomb. 

Yi-Jau: Yeah. Some of those projections. You look at those and you're like, no way isn't that long, or that's not far enough. I always find it interesting how they calculate the launch angles and everything now. But back in the day people, I think we're just guessing. 

Benjamin: Yep. I think that's $500. I think that there was a little like, we don't want to say we gave up a 500 foot home run. So let's just call that one four 96. Yeah, exactly. So as a part owner of the Fresno Grizzlies, do you have access to the tee shirt gun? 

Yi-Jau: No, I do not have access. And nor would I want that. Knowing my luck, there's probably some liability issues with me holding that and injury in a fan and I wouldn't want that responsibility. I believe that up to the professionals is troy Tulowitzki a hall of Famer? I'd probably say no just because of the amount of injuries that guy had. I mentioned Dante but shadows one of my favorites, but too low was right up there for his size at that short stop position. He was a gigantic shortstop and she could do it all except for, you know, every bug every single time. I'm a crazy story to tell you first born. Then I argue with my wife about naming my unborn child too low, too low. 

Yi-Jau: I didn't win, but I put that on the table for what it's worth. We went down the list of 19 eighties baseball players and I went through will Clark, Matt Williams, Robby Thompson, you name it. Those were all on the lists for us. When our first son was born and they were systematically rejected by my wife. Well, the funding part was told we were having a boy. I was like, okay, to low, and then we ended up having a girl, so it's quite the shock. Is Her name? Tula? No, her name is Sisi but not named Dr. CC Sabathia sounds good. Named after my wife's grandma, but at too low. I was seriously contemplating having that as the name. How about total winds for the rockies? This year, 91, very optimistic total winds for the giants this year. Hundred so 82 widths. So I'm calculating up your scores for the, for the fans by the fans podcast, and you get a. 

Yi-Jau: let's see, emissions of Troy Tulowitzki on the Mount Rushmore of Colorado rockies. I think that Andres Galarraga could have been up there as well. You didn't get the longest home run, but that's a tough one. And you don't have access to the tee shirt gun. That's three out of 10 that we missed. I think we're giving you a solid c. So passing grade, there's always room for improvement. They know what cs get degrees. So cs get degrees. So let's talk a little bit more about baseball. Tell me, first off, how did you become a part owner of the Fresno Grizzlies Minor League baseball team? Yeah, so we just took ownership of this past February and a very small portion of a large group that's part of the ownership group and basically my best friend that I've known since first grade, him and his dad who also own a different minor league team, a single a team, they were bidding on the team and they asked if I wanted to be involved and I'm such a fan of baseball and I love it. 

Yi-Jau: I just thought it was a great opportunity. So I told my wife, I'm like, Hey, I'd love to invest in a baseball team. And she was like, what? And she wasn't on board initially, but I kind of talked her into it a little. So that's how it started. It was just kind of a group of my friends that want to get involved in by this team. So I'm looking at the wikipedia page for the Fresno Grizzlies and they were a giant team, part of the giants farm system from Nineteen Ninety eight to 2014 and now they are affiliated with the Houston Astros. Correct. So actually we have the world series giant's tickets from all three of the world series, like hanging in our, one of the suites there should park in Fresno. I took a picture of it so maybe I'll send that over to you. Nice. So the Fresno Grizzlies used to be a giant team and now they're owned by the Houston Astros. 

Yi-Jau: How does it work where minor league teams are traded back and forth. So it's Kinda the decision, a major league club where they want to have their teams and we kind of sign agreements and our agreement with Houston will and next season. So we'll have discussions or they'll decide whether they want to remain a president or moving somewhere else. If I get one of those things that's out our hands and stuff and major league club. But there's always kind of guarantee that you will get a club because there's 30 mlb teams and then there's 30 AAA teams. So it's kind of shuffling around the team so it's not likely be left out in the cold. So the Houston Astros, the ninth rated minor league farm system according to SB nation. Very official stats, but you have some good players on the team this year. Tell me, hey, what's your level of involvement with the team and how do you feel about the, uh, the Fresno Grizzlies this year? 

Yi-Jau: So it's like baseball. It's very interesting because we don't hold any of the contracts with players. It's all at the major league level. What we do is we do the concessions, we do the marketing and the merchandise, everything around the team, but anything involved with the players, those decisions are done at the major league level. But yeah, we have a great team to currently in first place in their division. They have four guys that I think the Saturday are getting their world series ring because they were on the team last year as more significant contributors. Tony camp, he's been doing awesome. He's our second days, but you played outfield last year, speedster combat play, great defense. Ha read Tyler White. So yeah, the Astros had those down years for somebody hears that they're of ethics within patrol drafting and yeah, that was pretty strong. So that benefits us as the Fresno Grizzlies and I like the team and we love being in Fresno, so it's awesome. 

Yi-Jau: So what's the rationale for the group that goes into buying a team? Are there aspirations to eventually own a major league team and they're investing in the minor leagues to get experience or. No, not necessarily. For us, it's just to build the brand of the current president beardsley staying and just so we're all make a great family experience for people that come out and want to watch baseball. That's not a trial, I guess to move into one, afford it, it's a different experience. It's certainly a different experience than the majors. Right. Less different topics and different things that you have to deal with. We don't necessarily have any control over the players like who comes to fresno who doesn't. Especially like on Rehab assignments. That's not any discipline that we have. We don't have any say in that. So yeah, for us it's just operating the business and making sure we're running it. Well. 

Benjamin: One of my favorite things about minor league baseball is that some of the marketing strategies and branding is a little tongue in cheek. For example, our mutual friend Adam told us about the time that he went to the modesto nuts game when they were playing the Vus Eylea rawhides. Have you ever thought about renaming the Fresno Grizzlies to be the Fresno truckers? I don't know what else happens in Fresno. 

Yi-Jau: We do have an alternative uniform. Tuesdays we are the Fresno topics and we have an awesome uniform and hats that a Taco on it. So at Fresno they have this taco truck showdown. It's a big event over like 50 tow trucks. I'm out. There's why music. So tacos are a huge thing for fresno. And then one of the things about minor league baseball, the Promos, one of my favorites that we're going to have in June 21st is coming to Fresno night in honor of coming to America, the movie, and we actually have a uniform of Zamunda with like the big lion head on the shoulder and we're actually turning our concessions two Mcdowell's. But you ever wanted to have a come out to Fresno, 

Benjamin: whoever your marketing person is, 

Yi-Jau: I tip my hat to him. Yeah, I'm totally going to go up for that game. 

Benjamin: Okay. That's a wrap for today's show. We'll be back with Yi-Jau tomorrow to get the low down on what life is like as a rockies fan and what the giants need to know about this year's rocky squad. So if you want to hear the rest of this conversation or if you just want more giants baseball on your podcast feed, click that subscribe button in your podcast App. Thanks again to our friends at fanatics. Don't forget that if you're going to go buy your giants gear, you're fresno grizzlies gear or even your rocky's gear, click the link in our show notes or go to FTF BTF.com/fanatics. And the team at fanatics will kick us a couple of bucks to help for the production of the show. All right. Until tomorrow. Swing and a miss. And that's it.