Big League Stew

Masahiro Tanaka pays Japan Airlines $195K to charter Boeing 787 jet for party of 5 and pet poodle

David Brown
Big League Stew

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(AP, BLS Illustration)

Masahiro Tanaka spared no expense in order to get from Japan to the United States for his first Major League Baseball spring training with the New York Yankees. For a reported sum of $195,000 paid to Japan Airlines, he chartered a Boeing 787 Dreamliner — not some puny Gulfstream — to fly himself, along with four others and his pet dog, to New York City.

Dreamliners reportedly carry about 200 seats. Presumably, the dog — a brown toy poodle — didn't travel with the luggage.

Regardless, it was a good thing Tanaka planned ahead, reports SBS:

JAL said the plane had been booked ahead of the heavy snow that hit Japan over the weekend, grounding all regular commercial flights to New York on Sunday and causing travel chaos around the Japanese capital.

Even with the luxury of his own airliner, Tanaka did not escape the weather-induced misery, with his journey from a Tokyo hotel to the airport by car taking eight-and-a-half hours.

Tanaka paid for the plane so he could take part in the team's camp "in the best of form", a Japanese baseball official who accompanied him reportedly said.

Now that's how you roll (down the tarmac) after getting $155 million from the Yankees, who spent another $20 million just to negotiate with Tanaka after he was posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball. In 2013, Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 183 strikeouts and 32 walks in 212 innings for the Eagles, who won the Japan Series. Those results have made him a lot of money.

Nobody is expecting, or should expect, another unbeaten season from Tanaka. Not only will the competition be different, but also other aspects of playing ball here. As this post in the New York Daily News points out, travel is one difference to which Tanaka must acclimate eventually. Japan has only one time zone, but getting from baseball city to baseball city has been described as "cumbersome" by former major leaguer C.J. Nitkowski because NPB teams don't (usually) charter flights.

Well, Tanaka is not in Japanese Kansas anymore, is he?

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David Brown edits Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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