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Dan Shaughnessy

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Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / March 27, 2008

LOS ANGELES - It is 6:50 Wednesday night in Los Angeles and I am thinking about Marvin Barnes.

You remember Marvin. Providence College. Final Four. Wasted potential. Bob Costas tells a story of his days with Marvin when both worked for the Spirits of St. Louis of the old ABA. There were a lot of short flights on small planes throughout the Midwest and one morning Marvin came at Costas, boarding pass in hand, and noted with some concern that the Spirits were taking off from Louisville at 8 a.m. and arriving at their destination (might have been Indianapolis) at 7:59 a.m.

"Ain't no way I'm getting on board no [expletive] time machine!" said Marvin.

The Red Sox, drive-time warriors of the Far East, know exactly how this feels. Without the aid of a flux capacitor, the Sox lost to the Oakland A's in Tokyo last night, flew out of Japan early this morning, and landed in Los Angeles early last evening. Marty McFly meets Manny Delcarmen.

"This trip was the best and the worst," said owner John Henry as he waited for baggage. Henry was one of the few who didn't sleep on the 12-hour flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

"I'm looking forward to having my first hamburger," added team chairman Tom Werner.

"There's still 10 minutes to get a bet down on last night's game," added a member of the traveling party who shall remain nameless.

So, Japan is over. Just about the time we were finally learning how to say konnichiwa (hello) it was time to say sayonara.

With Tokyo in the rearview mirror and the Sox returning to spring training for three games against the Dodgers, including Saturday's history-making Coliseum-palooza, which is expected to draw in excess of 115,000 fans, here's a look back at some of the memorable moments from Japan:

-- Highlight of the trip, hands down, was EMC CEO Joe Tucci having a catch with Hideki Okajima at a fancy reception at the Sox' New Otani Hotel headquarters Monday. While 2007 World Series clips were shown on a Green Monster-sized LED screen, assorted clients and dignitaries - most of them Japanese - feasted on sushi and fine wines. After a few speeches and interviews with Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Terry Francona, a couple of fielding mitts were produced and Tucci lined up to play catch with the Sox' second-most-famous Japanese hurler. Standing in front of the giant screen, Okajima softly tossed to Tucci, who was about 20 feet away. Tucci made the catch, and before you could say, "Nuke LaLoosh," gunned a wild heater that sailed far high and wide of a sprawling Okajima and punctured the precious LED screen. I will never look at the EMC logo (which was on the Sox uniforms for the Japan games) without thinking of this.

-- Ballplayers' lives are different from yours and mine. Here's a snippet of a conversation overheard between two A's wives who were waiting for an elevator at the New Otani:

Wife No. 1: "I just don't think my husband gets much respect from the organization."

Wife No. 2: "You think you've got it bad? My husband doesn't even have his own bobblehead."

When was the last time your wife said that to anyone?

-- Ex-Red Sox pitchers fared pretty well in the two games. Keith "I Hate Baseball" Foulke and Alan Embree each pitched twice without giving up anything, and Lenny DiNardo was not scored upon in the opener. Embree fanned Jason Varitek to end last night's (or was it yesterday morning's?) game. Less than an hour later, while buses waited to take the teams to the airport, Embree strolled past the Sox' entourage and stopped to give Varitek a bear hug.

-- David Ortiz (0 for 7) looks frustrated. Tuesday he hit a one-hop bullet - a single to right by anyone else - that was nullified by the shift. Once in each game he hit a towering pop that was caught in the vast acreage of foul territory beyond the third base dugout. On any field other than Oakland and Tokyo, Ortiz's sky-high pops would have been in the stands.

-- Cadillac Manny already has five RBIs, an extra million yen, and a new Ricoh color copier ("Gonna put it in my house, man") from his MVP performance in the opener, but his posing at home plate is out of control. A price would have been paid in the old days. Not now. But prepare for some 400-foot singles.

-- The Sox brought 31 cases of baseballs (six dozen balls per case) to Japan, but were down to six cases going into yesterday's game and have ordered more for Los Angeles.

"With that fence [190 feet to left with a 62-foot-high net] in the Coliseum, we're going to need a lot of cases just to get through batting practice," said equipment czar Joe Cochran.

-- JFK speechwriter Dick Goodwin, and his historian wife, Doris Kearns Goodwin, flew to Japan with the commissioner of baseball and enjoyed the games from the commish's box. Not immune from Jerry Remy phobia (never leave the hotel when in a foreign land), they were seen dining at Trader Vic's.

-- Tokyo trains were still crowded and there was a traffic jam in a city tunnel when the Sox bused to Haneda Airport after 11 o'clock at night.

-- Still not sure what Schill was doing in Tokyo. I mean, how could he not have been on the trip to the US Embassy on Opening Day? Going for the Pulitzer in lieu of the Cy, Schill made every deadline with his blog, but I bet he'll never produce Tokyo and Los Angeles datelines in the same edition of the Boston Globe.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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