EDITOR'S NOTE: Kate Longworth is Tokyo-bound with the A's! Although it's not her standard practice to let strangers read her diary, she invites you to go behind the scenes with the A's up-and-coming players. Log on throughout the day for Kate's journal posts from Japan, and tune in nightly for her A's reports on SportsNet Central and NBC Bay Area. Whether the players are in the Tokyo Dome taking BP or trying exotic sushi, you can explore the streets of one of the most fascinating cities -- Comcast SportsNet is your ticket to Tokyo!
Friday, March 23, 2012
"Lights, Camera, Action"
Actors and Actresses prepare for weeks before walking the red carpet, deploying special diets designer fittings. The Athletics? They endured 14-hours of air travel and patiently navigated customs before emerging in front of screaming fans and flashing bulbs in Japan.
After our 160-passenger charter cleared immigration, we made the 15-minute walk through the airport to the buses waiting to take us to our hotel. Once we passed the security checkpoint, hundreds of baseball fans were waiting, trying to get an up-close glimpse at Major League Baseball players.
Fans were loudly cheering and clapping as they held out baseballs, hoping for autographs, while players walked by arm in arm with the wives and girlfriends soaking it all in. It took me back to last September to the "green carpet" walk in Oakland for the "MoneyBall" premiere. Just as our American media lined up with video and still cameras to rapidly snap away at Brad Pitt, the A's players were bombarded with flashing lights and cheers.
"It was like the media reception Hideki Matsui got all last here from the Japanese media in the states," said a smiling Tyson Ross.
For those, like me, who choose a wardrobe of comfort versus fashion when traveling long distances, that is not the case when you are a pro. All the players were sporting suit jackets, and all of us on the charter had a strict dress code of "business travel."
"Not there Yet"
The best thing to do after you traveled for over half a day to get to your destination? Get on a bus! Yes, it was an anti-climatic arrival after such an incredible reception at the airport as we embarked on bus caravan No. 2. Just as we started Thursday in Arizona on buses traveling to the airport, a two-hour bus ride to our hotel awaited us Friday evening in Tokyo.
We flew into Norita Airport, which -- from what I gather -- is on the outskirts of the area. We left Arizona at 11 a.m. on Thursday. When we boarded the buses, it was 6 p.m on Friday.
"We Made It...and it was Worth the Wait"
We finally arrived at Hotel New Otani in downtown Tokyo.
"We (the players) all played a game on the way over here," Wes Timmons told me as he got off the bus. "What's your wish list to do first when you arrive -- shower, eat or sleep."
For those wondering at home -- eating won out for this team!
The New Otani hotel is like a miniature city in itself. Seriously, it is a campus of high rises boasting hundreds of room. We are on the 22nd floor of the third tower. I am afraid to leave our rooms, without another member of our group with me because I am not sure if I will find my way back -- and I have yet to even step outside into the city streets!
There are numerous restaurants, ranging from Japanese dining to American to steak houses. And there are shops around every corner as well; some are similar to lobby shops back home, but many more extravagant -- flower shops, jewelry, clothing, etc.
The entire hotel circles a traditional Japanese garden, depicting the traditional Japanese scene with red bridge and cherry blossom trees. It was incredible tonight in the rain and dark, and I can't wait to see it tomorrow.
If you are wondering how you are getting behind the scenes access to your favorite A's players delivered to you -- all the way from Japan, every night -- here's the lowdown.
At 11:45 p.m. Friday in Japan, our CSN crew heads to the CNBC Bureau here in downtown Tokyo. It's 7 a.m. Friday back in San Francisco. Using the magic of technology, we send the video to Singapore than route it through New York and by 6 and 10:30 p.m. on SportsNet Central, you'll see exactly what our day entailed back home in the Bay Area.
"Saturday's Game Plan"
The team will take the field for its first workout at the Tokyo Dome. Tonight we will be featuring on Night on the Town in Japan with the A's players as we hit up an authentic Sushi Restaurant followed by some karaoke!