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March 20, 2008
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
TOKYO -- The Red Sox charter landed about two hours ago in Tokyo and I thought I would catch you up a bit on the team's long day's journey into night . . . day . . . then night again.
Some highlights from the journey, which took about 18 hours from departure in Fort Myers to arrival here.
-- A police motorcade escorted the Red Sox through Fort Myers, with traffic stopped at intersections to allow the four busloads of personnel and equipment through. It was astounding to see the ease with which the team got from City of Palms Park to Southwest Florida International Airport.
Ordinarily, most beat writers -- myself included -- make our own travel arrangements and fly commercially, dealing with the same airport, traffic and security issues that everyone else experiences. This was a completely different -- and more convenient -- way of travel.
Traffic actually came to a standstill on Interstate 75 as the Sox' motorcade got on the highway, creating a snarl of backed-up cars.
At the airport, the buses went directly onto the tarmac, where we exited the buses, went through an ad hoc security checkpoint and boarded the plane.
-- The charter plane the Red Sox used was a 747 with an upstairs cabin.
Players, team officials and support staff -- and some family members -- had use of the main cabin, which featured an expanded first-class section, many business-class seats and a mostly empty coach section.
Upstairs sat the media -- print, radio and TV people -- along with Red Sox public-relations officials.
During the course of the flight, a few curious members of the Sox traveling party came upstairs to inspect our accomodations. Wandering through were Jason Varitek, Alex Cora, Terry Francona and principal owner John Henry.
-- By his own recollection, Henry has been to Japan "about four or five times" previous to this trip, mostly for business purposes.
Standing in the aisle, Henry gave his view of the current recession, how long it might last and what might happen as a result. Naturally, much of this was completely over my head, but I listened politely.
-- The Japan Air Lines staff couldn't have been more helpful or solicitious. Throughout the flight, they offered refreshments and a seemingly endless array of food choices -- some Japanese and some Westernized choices.
We had a brief stayover in Chicago as the plane changed crew and spent an hour in a hospitality lounge at O'Hare, where still more food was offered and everyone got a chance to walk around.
It seemed incredible that, as we re-boarded shortly after 9 p.m Central time, we still had another 13 or so hours of travel time before arriving in Tokyo.
-- As the night wore on, some in the traveling party took brief naps. Red Sox staff internist Larry Ronan had advised players and team personnel to sleep as little as possible to help with the jet lag and to ease the adjustment to Tokyo time when we landed.
I slept a little more than three hours, which seemed like the right amount -- enough to rest, but no so much that I threw my body clock out of whack.
Dr. Ronan also passed out special socks which are designed to help circulation. The key, he added, was to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration; I lost track of the number of bottled waters I went through.
-- The plane had a special feature on the video screen that enabled us to watch the takeoff and landings, thanks to a camera mounted somewhere on the nose of the plane. If you so chose, you could also watch that on a smaller screen in the seatback directly in front of you.
-- Manny Delcarmen and his wife brought their six-month-old son on the trip. I think a few players were a bit concerned about the being seated near an infant on an 18-hour trip, but by all accounts, the baby was remarkably well-behaved and quiet for most of the flight.
-- Upon arrival in Tokyo, we were herded rather quickly and efficiently through customs, then sent outside to board buses for the trip to the hotel.
Needless to say, it wasn't hard to determine when Daisuke Matsuzaka went through the door. The camera flashes made it seem like high noon when it was actually just after midnight here.
The Japanese media took pictures and filmed the Sox coming out of the airport and boarding the buses and a small group of fans called out for autographs from players.
-- Following a 30-minute bus ride to our downtown hotel, everyone scattered in the hotel lobby and checked in. The hotel was prepared for the arrival, with security and extra help on hand, making the process quick and painless.
-- In the morning, some Sox players will be touring a nearby U.S. military base and doing a meet-and-greet with American soldiers stationed here. Then, it's on to the Tokyo Dome for a press conference and a workout, the details of which we'll bring you.
For now, it's off to sleep.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 1:31 PM | Permalink