October 2006

A walk through Tokyo

Tokyonight I took a walk through the main streets of Tokyo last night, when it was all lit up, and again today. Very, very cool.

And very American-feeling. For every sushi or noodle place, you can find a McDonald’s or Subway. A ton of the natives speak English, which is very helpful for a tourist such as myself.

McdonaldsI ate some Sushi last night, which was incredible. I kid you not when I say it melted in my mouth. And that was even before I had the beer to go with it.

I slept off the jetlag with one heck of a good sleep. My fear that I was going to turn into Bill Murray in Lost in Translation and not be able to sleep my entire time here was quickly put to bed, literally.

SushiWoke up feeling like a new man. Got outside and discovered that it was a gorgeous day in Tokyo. Temperature in the mid 60s, no humidity, beautiful. I’ll tell you this, the buildings are tall here.

Ate lunch with my pal Vinny  — those of you MLB.TV watchers know who Vinny is — and we changed our cash for Yen at a Citibank and then had a really good lunch at a noodle place.

SkyscraperI must say it was a little challenging trying to explain to the server what we wanted, but the servers here really bear with you until they understand what you’re saying. The noodles were delicious, and were in a soup with some type of meat. I have no clue what I was eating but I do know that it tasted very good.

CrossingstreetWhen we walked back to the hotel, the Japanese business day was in full force. The business attire seems to consist of conservative suits, typically with black sportscoats. Everyone is extremely polite and respectful. While it looks a lot like New York, it is much quieter. Honking horns? What’s that? People abide by the laws here.

Crossing the street is interesting. Nobody j-walks. You wait until the light turns green (that’s the walk signal for pedestrians.) There are no false starts around here.

Sayonara (for now),

Ian.

Konnichiwa

For those of us trying to learn the most elementary of Japanese, that means hello. Here I am in Tokyo after a long travel day that started with the MLB charter leaving Phoenix at 11 a.m. local time Monday and arriving here at roughly 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday. 1030061011

Yes, the system is a little out of whack, but it wasn’t a bad day at all. The atmosphere on the plane was very laid back. A lot of players slept, watched TV, played video games or cards. Bronson Arroyo played the guitar. The seats turned into beds. I must say, that was very cool.

Once we got here, the Japanese media seemed very excited to see the Major League stars. Flashbulbs popped the second we walked out the door of customs and toward the buses.
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It was a pretty decent haul from the airport to downtown Tokyo, where the team hotel is. It was a little after 5 p.m. by the time we arrived.

The drive was interesting. In Japan, they drive on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right side of the car. That much I learned. During the ride, I saw two of the largest ferris wheel’s of all-time. I can’t believe how high they were.

The sunset was gorgeous. Unfortunatley, this picture I took from the moving bus doesn’t quite illustrate how gorgeous.
Picture06Once we got close to downtown, the traffic made it feel like New York City at rush hour. So did the skyscrapers, which seemed even higher here than in the Biggest Apple. It’s going to be a great time. I can tell you that much.

The welcome press conference starts in about a half hour downstairs, so I’m going to go get ready for that. I’ll check in with some more soon. Happy Halloween to those of you back in the States! Have a Kit Kat on me.

Sayonara

Ian.

Desert first — then the Far East

Before this star-studded collection  of Major League All-Stars departs Monday for a fascinating trip to Tokyo, they have gathered here in the Desert for workouts this weekend. Sorry, you residents of Arizona, the gatherings are closed to the public.

1027061353For us media members lucky enough to get through the gates, there wasn’t a heck of a lot of excitement today, but it was hard not to marvel at the collection of stars sharing the field. Ryan Howard, David Wright, Andruw Jones, Jose Reyes, Jermaine Dye, mercy. Lots of studs.

Phoenix is a good, blissful place to kind of chill out before the electricity and frenzied excitement that will be Tokyo, and the other stops in Japan.

1027061639I must say, it’s kind of strange to watch Major Leaguers go through the paces of Spring Training in late October, when the World Series is winding down. The guys who didn’t make the playoffs have been off for the last month, and now, all of a sudden, they are starting it up again.

I suppose this tour represents the International coming out party of Ryan Howard. Do you think he can match the 515-foot homer that Big Papi hit in Japan two years ago? Don’t be surprised by anything this man does. He did swat 58 home runs this season, after all, and has the smile and the personality that will allow him to easily embrace the Big Attraction role that he will surely play during this tour.  Life isn’t so bad for Bruce Bochy right now. He became the Giants manager today, and, tomorrow, he comes out here to manage these All-Stars. Just FYI, i’ll be blogging regularly until this tour ends on Nov. 9. So come back here early and often for updates of the games and the sights.1027061506b