January 20, 2011
I'm just waking up now on my second day down here in New Zealand. The first day was pretty much non-stop for my traveling crew and I. I was able to bring two of my good friends from Chicago as well as my publicist over here.
The flight couldn't have been better. Air New Zealand really took care of us, from the time we waited in their lounge for our flight until we walked out of the airport.
We actually scheduled ourselves a long layover in Los Angeles before coming over so we could relax a little before our 12-hour flight, which is shorter than I thought it would take to get to New Zealand. I met up with some friends for dinner at Ivy in LA. The Situation was at the table next to us, but I couldn't get a picture with him. Maybe if I played in Jersey he would have taken the time?
Once we got to the airport, we were able to get into the Air New Zealand lounge, relax, enjoy some awesome appetizers and freshen up. We took off at 9:15 pm Pacific time, which was perfect because it wasn't going to mess up my internal clock. They fed us within the first hour on the plane and I started to watch the Wall Street sequel. After that, I just slept. By the time I work up, it was 6:00 am in New Zealand, so my body wasn't too far off of where it should have been anyways.
Once I arrived at the airport, I was greeted by a Maori traditional dance and song. It was so incredible to be a part of that. I guess they don't do those very often at the airport, so I definitely felt honored.
Here's the video:
The rest of day one was really spent meeting a ton of people from New Zealand in general, but also involved Baseball New Zealand and getting things going strong here. There was a lot of driving around, and I'm learning there really is no easy way to get around Auckland.
I met one of the country's top cricket players and did some test swings with their bat, while also fielding some fly balls with him. Unfortunately there were some problems with my video camera, so we didn't get that, but the Yankees do have a camera crew here, so you guys will be able to check that out during the season.
Then we went to practice for the New Zealand Breakers basketball team and got to talk with some of the guys and shoot around. It was fun to talk with some of the American-born players on that team, as well as the ones for Adelaide, their opponents. Former Michigan State star Adam Ballinger, also an Indiana guy, was also playing. That was cool since he was playing while I was in Detroit.
After the game, we basically came back to our hotel and just slept. It was a long day, but now I have a good full night rest under my belt and I'm ready to go start some baseball instruction today. I'll also be able to get some of my personal fielding and hitting work in since the weather is so great here. It's almost like an early spring training for me.
I'll check back in with you guys tomorrow!