The New York Yankees made Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka the biggest addition of their splashy offseason. They agreed to pay him $155 million over seven years, in addition to the $20 million posting fee that's going back to his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Considering all that, it would be nice for Tanaka to be in the U.S. in time for spring training. So the Yankees can show off their new toy. Tanaka's first year in MLB is going to be a show — especially because he's playing in New York — so nobody within the Yankees wants him to miss the first act.
Getting the proper paperwork done and a visa cleared for Tanaka was going to take time, so the Yankees didn't take any chances. They called in a favor to a powerful guy who happens to be a fan, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.
Here's how Schumer says he helped the Yankees, via the New York Daily News:
"My office works tirelessly to help constituents every single day, but it's not often you get a call from a constituent like the New York Yankees," Schumer said. "You see, the Yankees called me a couple of days ago to say they were worried about Masahiro Tanaka getting to spring training on time due to the length of time it can take for foreign players to get a visa.
"Foreign baseball players apply for something called a P-visa and the whole process can take up to a month; but with pitchers and catchers reporting on February 14th, it was very possible he wasn't going to make it. So I made sure we had someone go to the mailroom at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), pull his application and get it processed quickly - something I have done in the past for the Mets as well, when they had a similar issue with Jose Reyes."
It's not bad to have friends in high places, eh? Tanaka's visa should be good to go, so he can arrive in Florida for spring training. The Yankees are obviously ready.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) January 30, 2014
Schumer told the Daily News that he's "hoping for another World Series this year." If the Yankees pull that off — which is going to be a challenge — they may have to give Schumer a ring.
BLS H/N: Eye On Baseball
- - - - - - -