Go East, young man
MY APARTMENT — How do you get to JFK? Practice. And three plane rides.
I woke up at 7 AM (Tokyo time) Thursday and caught up on a few emails. Believe it or not, MLB.com kept the full website running despite my nine-day absence from the office. There’s no better alarm clock than the fear of an internet crisis while you sleep through US business hours.
By 9 AM, I was out the door with MLB.com’s Doug Miller for some Tokyo sightseeing. After a week packed with workouts, press conferences, player appearances and exhibition games, Wednesday and Thursday mornings finally offered an opportunity to venture more than a few blocks from the ballpark. Doug is a self-proclaimed “wanderer” with an excellent sense of direction and I’m great at tagging along when other people make plans, so it was a good fit.
Thursday’s highlights included Kiddie Land — a mega toy store that isn’t nearly as creepy as its name sounds — and the Park Hyatt Hotel. Fifty-two stories above Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood, the Park Hyatt’s New York Grill offers a panoramic view of the entire city and a close-up look at the bar where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson first met in Lost in Translation. After dodging the hostess — apparently that view is a perk of ordering the $65 prix fixe lunch — I stood at the window and took in the city sprawl. Even on a hazy day, skyscrapers and low-rises stretched to the horizon in all directions. I guess 27 million people have to live, work and sing karaoke somewhere.
After a quick stop to check out of our hotel — where the top-floor bar offered only faux-tropical scenery and McDonalds-style fries — I was at the Tokyo Dome by 3 PM to get my Kenny Bloggins on. The game went final around 8:30, I published my last post from the Tokyo Dome at 9 and was on the bus to the airport an hour later. Pro tip for all you international travelers out there: When selecting the quickest line through Japanese customs, avoid the one Yoenis Cespedes and Bartolo Colon are waiting on.
The A’s charter went wheels-up shortly before midnight. Summary of the next nine hours: Complementary fleece pajamas, teriyaki chicken thighs, 150 pages of A Game of Thrones, three Justified episodes, mushroom and cheddar frittata. Thanks to the wonders of the International Date Line and a possible jump-to-the-left-step-to-the-right by the pilots, we arrived in Oakland at 5 PM Thursday, Pacific Time. My March 28 had now been ongoing for approximately 33 hours and I’d been awake for 28 of them.
Travel options from Oakland to New York were limited to A) Hang out in the airport for six hours then grab a redeye, B) Stay at a hotel in Oakland then fly to New York Friday morning with a layover in Charlotte, or C) Fly to Phoenix Thursday night then direct to New York on Friday morning. I opted for C and checked into my hotel in Phoenix at 11 PM — just in time for the restaurant, bar and room-service kitchen to close for the night. Good thing I’d sampled the local NorCal cuisine with some California Pizza Kitchen at the terminal in Oakland.
Is it OK to eat an airport chicken fajita burrito at 8 AM if your body still thinks it’s late afternoon? Because that may have gone down the following morning. Hours 27-32 in the air since last Wednesday may have been the most uncomfortable, as I was stuck next to the window while a, uh, hefty gentleman filled the middle seat. The flight attendant gave me a weird look when I requested sleepwear and a multi-course menu. Just like they say: You can take the reporter off the Oakland A’s team plane …
Thirty-five hours after the Opening Series ended — and nine days after I left New York for Phoenix — a cab dropped me at my building on Manhattan’s East Side. Roughly 14 seconds later, the sleeping commenced.