The Drag Kings returned to Chukchansi Park in 2012, doing what they do best: dragging the infield…uh, wait; no, that’s not right. Dancing? Yes, dancing, that’s what they do best.
Did you miss one of their performances from 2012? Not a problem. Through the power of YouTubes, below are the performances from The Drag Kings, including viral sensations “Call Me Maybe” and “Gangnam Style.” Which one is your favorite?
Parker is a big fan of all things Fresno: Downtown, Fulton Mall, Grizzlies fans and even local celebrities.
A local celebrity whose star is shining bright right now is pop singer, Ryan Beatty. The 16-year-old and Clovis native found his fame via YouTube, and he recently released his latest hit song, “Hey LA.”
Naturally, Parker decided to film his own version of “Hey LA,” with a Fresno twist, of course:
The Grizzlies may have recorded their fifth winning season in franchise history in 2012, but there were plenty of other standout performances by the team and individuals. Below are numbers that either set records or were close to it from the Grizzlies this season:
Nick Noonan had a memorable day on May 20th at Round Rock after going 4-for-5 at the plate. Two of his four hits were home runs, including his first career grand slam. The part of his day that stood out the most, though, was his 8 RBIs, the most ever by a Grizzlies hitter in a single game in the franchise’s 15-year history.
Noonan and Conor Gillaspie each matched the Grizzlies’ team record for hits in a single game with five each. Noonan had five hits on June 12th versus Sacramento at Chukchansi Park, and Gillaspie recorded five hits on April 21st at Tacoma.
On May 22nd, Francisco Peguero became the first Grizzlies hitter since Michael Byas (2002) to register two triples in a single game. Peguero ended his season with the Grizzlies with 10 triples, which tied Nate Schierholtz (2008) for second-most triples in a single season in Fresno history.
With the help of Peguero’s 10 triples, the Grizzlies set a franchise record with 48 triples for the entire season, surpassing the previous record of 43 set in 2006. The 48 three-base hits were third most in the PCL.
Justin Christian and Brock Bond each set themselves among the Grizzlies leaders in batting average and on-base percentage with their 2012 performances. Christian’s .343 batting average ties Tyler Graham (2010) for the third best clip in a season. Bond’s .332 average and .422 OBP are tied for eighth best and fifth best, respectively, in team history.
A couple of records set that were lowlights for the season include fewest team stolen bases (64) and grounded into double plays (134).
Todd Linden returned to the Grizzlies in 2012 for his sixth season in his career after spending the last 2 1/2 years away from affiliated baseball. The switch-hitter spent the entire campaign with Fresno and established himself as the leader in most offensive categories for the franchise’s career leaderboard. Linden is first in games (558), hits (563), doubles (117), triples (19), home runs (83), RBI (310), runs (361), walks (267) and strikeouts (529).
Eric Hacker also returned to the Grizzlies in 2012 after spending the 2010 season with Fresno. The right-handed pitcher moved up the franchise’s career leaderboard in wins (3rd with 28), strikeouts (9th with 232), starts (4th with 54) and innings pitched (7th with 316).
Another pitcher, Yusmeiro Petit, placed his name among many several single season Grizzlies record boards in his first year with Fresno. The right-hander struck out 153 batters, which is the third most ever by a Grizzlies pitcher. He only walked 36, helping him tally the franchise’s best K/BB ratio (4.25). Meanwhile, his 166.2 innings pitched are ourth most thrown by a Grizzlies pitcher in a season.
Jean Machi and Heath Hembree each had 15 saves, which are tied for seventh most in a season by Grizzlies pitchers. It was also the second straight season in which two Fresno hurlers each had 10 or more saves. Marc Kroon and Dan Otero had 20 and 12, respectively, in 2011.
The Fresno Grizzlies’ 2012 Opening Day roster featured nine players (including MLB Rehabber Ryan Vogelsong) that are currently on the San Francisco Giants’ active roster pushing for a National League West Division title.
Two pitchers, Jean Machi and Yusmeiro Petit, are certainly two of the most deserving Grizzlies hurlers that graduated to the Major League level in September.
The Venezuelan natives were not on the Giants’ 40-man roster all season, so their promotions are not the easiest. San Francisco had to make room by either designating a player for assignment or transferring another player to the 60-Day disabled list. A 40-man roster spot is valuable to all Major League clubs, and they only provide the roster security to the most deserving.
Machi and Petit were some of the closer friends on the Grizzlies roster. Obviously, the shared native country helped create the bond, but their personalities aligned for a season-long friendship. To see them both reach the Majors at the same time was a rewarding experience for all.
Petit got off to somewhat a slow start, posting a 5.35 ERA and only one win in his first seven starts to the season. Of his 33 runs allowed in the first seven starts, 21 were earned.
The Grizzlies, though, went 5-2 in Petit’s seven starts. Run support was not an issue in the first quarter of his season.
Petit began to author a different story for his season, however, beginning with his start against the Omaha Storm Chasers on May 15th at Chukchansi Park. He scattered seven hits and allowed two runs in six innings against Omaha, setting the table for a run of eight-straight quality starts.
Over his last 21 starts, Petit had 128 strikeouts and 25 walks while posting a 2.95 ERA. His 153 punchouts for the entire season (fourth-most in the PCL) are third-most in a single season for a Grizzlies pitcher in franchise history.
Petit, 27, did not get his call-up from the Giants until September 8th, five days after the Grizzlies’ season ended. Petit has had plenty of Major League experience in his career, appearing in 71 games (36 starts) over four seasons with Florida (2006) and Arizona (2007-09).
Machi was a steady rock in the Grizzlies bullpen for the entire season. He was tied with Heath Hembree for the team-lead in saves with 15. Machi was 15-for-16 when entering in the ninth inning during a save opportunity.
Machi also set the Grizzlies’ season-high for most consecutive scoreless appearances with nine straight shutout outings from June 9-28.
Machi had already drawn the attention of the parent club’s decision makers early this year when he was a non-roster invitee to big league Spring Training – the first time in his career he attended a Major League camp. It is a nice vote of confidence heading into a new season when you spend the first few weeks of Spring Training at the Major League training complex.
The 30-year-old Machi made his Major League debut on September 3rd against Arizona, throwing 95 mph gas and completing a perfect ninth inning of an eventual extra-inning (and emotional) win for the Giants.
San Francisco has 18 active pitchers for their stretch run to the playoffs. Machi and Petit will provide specific roles out of the Giants bullpen, with their appearances limited compared to the amount of time they pitched while with the Grizzlies. Machi and Petit, though, probably don’t mind the smaller roles as the opportunity to help the Giants make the playoffs is too good to pass up.
What takes two-and-a-half years and requires the birth certificate of your great-grandparents?
The opportunity to play for the Italian national baseball team, of course.
Tyler LaTorre, one of the Grizzlies’ catchers for each of the last two seasons, had his 2012 campaign with Fresno cut short by a week due to an opportunity to represent Italy in the European Baseball Championships. The path to get there, however, took longer than he intended.
You see, LaTorre was not born in Italy; more like born in Santa Cruz, California (roughly 6,200 miles away). Really, the only time LaTorre had been to the Italian Republic was after his freshman year at University of California, Davis when he spent two weeks in Florence.
The idea of LaTorre playing for Italy was brought up by current Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (short-season affiliate of the San Francisco Giants) manager Tom Trebelhorn. The former Major League skipper was the bench coach for the Italian team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
With Trebelhorn’s motivation, LaTorre began the process of obtaining an Italian passport in 2010. First, he had to gain dual citizenship. As everyone knows, the first step can always be the hardest.
To gain Italian citizenship, one of the requirements is to have one’s grandfather born to a non-US citizen. Therefore, LaTorre had to trace back his lineage to his great-grandparents in a foreign country.
“I was in contact with the Italian Federation of Baseball,” said LaTorre. “They have a lawyer who dug up some stuff. What I had to do is get their names and where they were born.”
With the birth certificate, death certificate and marriage certificate for all generations dating back to his great grandparents, LaTorre was ready to get his new passport. He sent his paperwork to the California State Senate, who translated it and provided the proper seal before he sent back to Italy for approval.
On June 18th, during an off day between series at Salt Lake and Sacramento, LaTorre drove to the Italian Consulate in Los Angeles to pick up the passport.
“I thought I was going to have to wait to get my passport when I went down [to Los Angeles], but they gave it to me that day,” said LaTorre. “On the drive back, I was just ecstatic. It was just a big weight off my shoulders because I have been trying for so long.”
The San Francisco Giants and Major League Baseball approved LaTorre’s early exit from the 2012 season to play in the Euro Championships.
LaTorre played in his final game with the Grizzles in 2012 on August 27th. After the game, he drove back home to Santa Cruz before beginning his journey to Italy on August 29th. He flew from San Francisco to New York, New York to Rome.
Once in Italy, LaTorre went to the Italian Baseball Federation’s headquarters about 20 minutes south of Rome, where he trained for their week of exhibitions against Chinese Taipei, Spain and Czech Republic.
The 2012 European Baseball Championships start on September 7th, with it being hosted in the Netherlands. Italy is the defending champion from the last time the tournament was held in 2010.
LaTorre will be joined on the Italian team by his college teammate and right-handed pitcher Marco Grifantini. Grifantini, who has played in the Italian Baseball League, will help LaTorre’s transition to the foreign country, including the language barrier.
“I know a little bit [of Italian] because my dad speaks it,” said LaTorre. “I know the numbers, how to order the food; I know the basics.”
Italy is already qualified for 2013 World Baseball Classic, so the European Championships are sort of a tune-up for the big tournament. For LaTorre, it is an opportunity to impress team officials.
“I am trying to springboard this European Championship by playing well for [Italy] and into the WBC, which is much bigger.”
LaTorre is coming off a year in which he spent the majority of the season with the Grizzlies, playing in 42 games and batting .278 with two home runs and 15 RBI.
With a strong season at Triple-A behind him, LaTorre has plenty of momentum to compete in the World Baseball Classic with Italy. The tournament may be a few months away, but that is nothing relative to what he has gone through to play for his new team.
Follow Tyler LaTorre on Twitter (@tylerlatorre) as he keeps everyone up-to-date on his progress overseas.