Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Not that there's anything wrong with this


Twenty-five years ago this Saturday, a well-known stand-up comedian debuted a little-known sitcom during the 4th of July holiday week. It would be nearly a year before another episode appeared and probably a good two years before "Seinfeld" took hold with the American public. But I can safely say that I have never seen or probably ever will see a funnier television show.

"Seinfeld" is the sitcom of my era. The generation before me had "All in the Family." The generation after me had god knows what -- do they make sitcoms anymore? I remember watching one of the earliest Seinfelds sometime during 1990 in my co-worker's apartment, thinking "what is this?" I believe it was the one where Kramer fills the washing machine with cement.

Sometime after that, I was a faithful Thursday night watcher, like the rest of TV viewers. When the show hit syndication, I copied them on to videotape because I knew that a show this historically funny should be preserved (little did I know there would be so many ways to view it in the future).

Everyone has their favorite Seinfeld shows and mine include the Soup Nazi, the Yada Yada Yada episode, and Kenny Rogers Chicken Roasters among others. I've belted "Serenity Now" on a few occasions and quoted many phrases without even thinking -- "I was in the pool" has become the defense for just about every shortcoming since the show aired.

But here on a baseball card blog, I'd like to recognize this anniversary with, of course, baseball cards.

As you know, baseball, and sports in general, was a common topic on Seinfeld. And I found just over 10 cards that relate the most to Seinfeld episodes.

In a tribute to "a show about nothing," here is a countdown about nothing. Not that there's anything wrong with that:


10. The Face Painter, 1995

Elaine's boyfriend, David Puddy paints his face in New Jersey Devils colors because, you know, "you gotta support the team." Elaine's reaction to this is "well, you can't walk around like that." And Jerry and Kramer's reaction at the door is priceless.


 9. The Chaperone, 1994

George gives Danny Tartabull hitting lessons (George: No, no! You're opening up your shoulder! Tartabull: Really? George: No, not really. I'm just saying this to you because I like to hear myself talk!). In the process, George decides the Yankees need to replace their polyester uniforms with cotton. He convinces Buck Showalter to do so, but the move backfires because of uniform "shrinkage".



8. The Note, 1991

Kramer swears he saw Joe DiMaggio at Dinky Donuts (he's a dunker), but nobody believes him. Until they see him with their own eyes at Monk's as Kramer tries to distract DiMaggio by banging on the table and yipping.


7. The Visa, 1993

Kramer goes to a baseball fantasy camp in Florida and comes back to report that he "plunked" Joe Pepitone for crowding the plate, and then, when a brawl breaks out "I punched Mickey Mantle in the mouth." Kramer gets special bonus points for also mentioning Hank Bauer and Clete Boyer, but the quote of the episode goes to George, who says:

"Kramer goes to a fantasy camp. His whole life is a fantasy camp. People should plunk down $2,000 to live like him for a week. Do nothing, fall ass-backwards into money, mooch food off your neighbors and have sex without dating; that's a fantasy camp."



6. The Letter, 1993

Elaine, George and Kramer enjoy a Yankee game in the owners box, but Elaine wears an Orioles cap, much like the one Jamie Moyer is wearing. Elaine is told to take the cap off and she refuses. When George, not wanting to make a scene, tells Elaine to take the cap off, she pokes her finger at him and "No! We are at a BASE-ball game. This is America!" But Elaine gets ejected anyway. Sounds like something the Diamondbacks owner would do.



5. The Abstinence, 1996

George, finding that his mind is sharper because he can't have sex with his girlfriend (she has mononucleosis), gives batting lessons to a very young-looking Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. (George also learns Portugese). Bernie has the best line when he says "are you the guy who put us in that Ramada in Milwaukee?" George also mocks Jeter when Jeter tells him they won the World Series. "Six games," George smirks.


4. The Wink, 1995

Kramer promises a little boy in the hospital that Paul O'Neill will hit two home runs in one game for him, then goes to the Yankee locker room to inform O'Neill. At his whiny best, O'Neill tells him, "you just don't hit home runs like that, it's hard to hit home runs and where'd you get two from?" Actually, O'Neill is probably the most believable actor among baseball players to ever appear on Seinfield.


3. The Caddy, 1996

In the famed "George is dead" episode, George Steinbrenner comes to the Costanza home to inform the parents of the bad news. Frank Costanza, silent up to this point, unloads on Steinbrenner:

"What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for? He had 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He's got a rocket for an arm. You don't know what the hell you're doing!"

Steinbrenner's answer is to babble about Ken Phelps.


2. The Boyfriend, 1992

One of the most famous Seinfeld episodes, and certainly the most revered in baseball circles, Roger McDowell and Keith Hernandez both make an appearance, although McDowell shows his glorious mullet and spitting skills only on grainy video. McDowell receives the coveted role as "the second spitter" who targeted Newman and Kramer for Newman saying, "Nice game, pretty boy" to Hernandez, or maybe it was because Newman and Kramer heckled him the bullpen all day.

Sadly, the game date mentioned in the episode -- June 14, 1987 -- in which the Mets supposedly played the Phillies and Hernandez made a crucial error is not factual. The Mets actually played the Pirates in Pittsburgh on that day and won, 7-3. Hernandez went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs.

This episode also happens to be the first time "Hello, Newman" is uttered in Seinfeld.





1.  The Boyfriend, 1992 and The Bubble Boy, 1992

Presenting the most Seinfeldian card of all. This card covers two episodes, actually three if you count the fact that The Boyfriend is a two-parter.

Hernandez not only gets to appear in both episodes, date Elaine, and utter "I'm Keith Hernandez," but appears on this Yoo-hoo card, which happens to be the drink that The Bubble Boy's father delivered for a living.

And there's your recap of the cards that I could find with Seinfeld connections. Unfortunately, I have no idea whether there is a George Steinbrenner card because that would wage a serious battle with Hernandez for No. 1.

I miss having a sitcom to look forward to every week. After Seinfeld disappeared (more than 15 years ago!), it was a series of diminishing sitcom devotions until I gave up. Most recently, Parks and Recreation gave it a good ride, but I don't think anything will produce the allegiance that Seinfeld did.

It's crazy to think that Seinfeld debuted 25 years ago. I calculated how old I was at the time, and realized that I was a single man and collecting 1989 Topps baseball cards for crying out loud.

In fact, when I heard the news, I think I pulled an Elaine:

"GET OUT!"

22 comments:

  1. We do the belly button voice at work 'Helllllo lalala'

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  2. His father was a mudder. His MOTHER was a mudder!

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  3. I still have the episode "The Puerto Rican Day" around here somewhere on VHS.

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  4. Priceless. I loved it when George worked for the Yanks. The episode,"The Calzone" also comes to mind, when Steinbrenner goes nuts for the smell of the Clazones George is buying for lunch (and Kramer decides he wants his jacket to smell that good so he puts it in the pizza oven). Loved Seinfeld. Have to admit that I also loved Friends, mainly because I lived with three female and one male roommate in New York at the time and it was a little too much like out own lives...

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  5. Festivus is the one holiday that should be on every calendar. Especially for "The airing of the grievances".

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  6. Nice. I thought Curb Your Enthusiasm is/was a good.. um, offshoot? continuation?.. of Seinfeld (or at least something along the lines of Costanza). Maybe enough featured/mentioned ballplayers for a top 10, though Joe Pepitone's jersey is all that immediately comes to mind. Oh wait, Bill Buckner had a great guest spot! I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

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  7. Never watched the show. I saw a few episodes here and there, but I never found it funny. And I get it - it was a show about nothing. But that doesn't make it a great show. I can't recall what I was watching during that time slot, but I don't feel I missed out on anything.

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  8. cool post. but the show....? can't say as I ever even snickered let alone laughed. I tried watching it, but meh.

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  9. Awesome stuff, I knew before scrolling down that Hernandez would be #1!

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  10. ...which is the second best payoff in the show after "and you want to be my latex salesman..."

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  11. 9. The Chaperone, 1994

    That's the same one where George drives half way up to Albany chasing a guy he thought gave him the finger with Tartabull stuck in the car, isn't it?

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    1. That's "The Pledge Drive" -- Tartabull appeared in two episodes. That's the one where George sees Tartabull eating a donut with a knife and fork.

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  12. ....The episode where Kramer rescues the set from the old Merv Griffin Show and installs it in his apartment.

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  13. GREAT post. Seinfeld will always be one of my favorite shows. I remember watching it with my parents back in the 90's (my grandparents talked about it a lot as well). I was still quite young when the episodes aired that I didn't really understand some of the jokes and references at the time.

    Now that I'm 20 I find myself still watching episode after episode. They usually air the same handful of episodes but every now and then they show one that they don't air very often. I think I've seen all the episodes, but I saw one a year or two ago that I didn't remember seeing. So that was cool. Seinfeld will be a timeless classic. I'm waiting to get the box set.

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  14. Seinfeld is and will always be my favorite TV show ever. I can't help but think how many times Roger McDowell was called the "second spitter" after that episode aired. My personal favorite episode is "The Subway". I think there's a reference to John Franco during the conversation between Jerry and the naked guy on the train.

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  15. I could have sworn that Jerry had a 1990 Donruss wax box on top of his fridge. Its in the earlier episodes, season 1 and 2. Seinfeld is probably my favorite sitcom of all time, I have all the DVD sets.

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  16. Great post and trip down memory lane. Gotta love the Sein!

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