NPB: Masahiro Tanaka, Spring Camp


Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Tanaka Arrives in Style

It was the biggest press conference the New York Yankees have held since Hideki Matsui was announced in Times Square. Masahiro Tanaka was brief and on point. He introduced himself in English. He said he was happy to be a Yankee. He took some questions. He talked about the legendary rivalry with the Red Sox. A new chapter in the storied career of a young ace officially began in the Big Apple.

Every major media outlet has been having a field day with the cost of the chartered flight Masahiro Tanaka took from Japan to the United States. The “a man, his wife, and his dog” story was everywhere before the presser. Of course, outrage at the extravagance is bolstered by an omission. Not many bothered to mention the fact that the jet was essentially a moving van. Pictures of the boxes were published in Japan, but that detail would have spoiled the stateside narrative.

After spending 8 1/2 hours getting to the airport in a snowstorm, Masahiro Tanaka and his wife got to chase a little puppy around in a big airplane. Ponder that for a moment and try not to smile.

Believe it or not, there were more expensive options than paying Japan Airlines $195,000 for a one-way trip in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

One of those options was a flight on a corporate charter. According to one outfit, a flight from Tokyo to New York would have cost at least $195,000. Naturally, the service would have been impeccable and the flight made as pleasant as possible, but the estimate was just for the humans and the puppy. The 50 big moving boxes would not be along for the ride. Cargo capacity is pretty limited on jets designed for a dozen or fewer people. They would still have to ship their stuff and FedEx could not guarantee that the boxes would arrive at the same time as the Tanaka family.

After doing a quick bit of number crunching with a bare minimum estimate of weight and dimensions, sending all 50 boxes around the globe was in the neighborhood of $40,000 to $50,000 via FedEx without insurance or packing materials. Depending on the exact weight, dimensions and insurance, the cost could have climbed as high as a truly comical $9,475 per box or nearly $475,000.

Masahiro Tanaka arrived in New York City on JAL just like the Beatles did 50 years ago on BOAC, but this doesn’t mean he is throwing his money around all willy-nilly. After all, his first lunch in the Big Apple was sushi from a local grocery store.

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