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Astros club pulls 2017 championship ring promotion
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The Associated Press

The Fresno Grizzlies are so confident the Houston Astros will win a title soon, they planned to hand out replica 2017 World Series rings as a promotion this season.

Then the giveaway got canceled once general manager Derek Franks spoke to the big league front office of the Grizzlies’ new parent club.

After announcing the planned Aug. 15 ring day Wednesday morning, the Triple-A Pacific Coast League club removed it from the schedule to avoid any issues with the Astros.

“It definitely caught the type of attention we thought it would, and then some,” team spokesman Ryan Young said Thursday. “We were all seeing it get bigger and bigger, and it was one of those things we didn’t want to add any pressure.”

It had been deemed “the boldest promotion in the history of professional sports” as part of the team’s “Tribute to Back to the Future” day for a game against New Orleans.

Last year, Sports Illustrated predicted in a cover story the Astros would win it all in ‘17.

“We met internally and have decided to replace the 2017 Houston Astros World Championship Ring with a more Fresno-centric giveaway, which more aligns with our marketing plans for 2015 and beyond,” said Franks, newly promoted to GM. “We do not want a Fresno Grizzlies giveaway to be perceived as a jinx for our major league affiliate.”

Fresno begins its first season affiliated with Houston. The Grizzlies reached the playoffs only once in 17 years under the San Francisco Giants’ farm system — in 1998 — and the club received what Young called “95 percent positive feedback” about the initial August World Series ring promotion.

“Our intent was to really play up the Astros’ talent in their system. The vibe is our Triple-A team is going to be good,” Young said. “Winning is definitely important to Fresno fans.”

There still will be rings.

Because of that longtime partnership with San Francisco, winner of three of the last five World Series titles, Fresno will hand out Giants replica rings honoring the 2014 title on April 25. On June 6, the Grizzlies will give bobbleheads for former second baseman Joe Panik, now full-time with the Giants “just to kind of wrap up that relationship we had with them. It’s kind of a good sendoff, and do it early in the year,” Young said.

“We appreciate that our affiliate is as optimistic as our fans are about the future of the Astros,” Astros President Reid Ryan said. “The Grizzlies will see some of the Astros top talent coming through Chukchansi Park, and we wish their whole team the best of luck in the upcoming 2015 season.”