A Seinfeld-Themed Look at the 2013 MLB Season

bernie-jeter-george-costanza“You want to talk about hotels, or you want to win some baseball games?” George Costanza asked a youthful Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams in wake of the Yankees’ 1996 World Series win.

“That is one magic loogie,” exclaimed Jerry as he discounted the inaccurate story of Keith Hernandez spitting on Kramer and Newman.

“You know, George, it struck me today that a communist pipeline into the vast reservoir of Cuban baseball talent could be the greatest thing ever to happen to this organization,” George Steinbrenner – voiced by Larry David – told a befuddled George, who was suspected at the time of being a communist.

“If you know what happened in the Met game, don’t say anything; I taped it,” Jerry warned as he picked up his phone, not knowing who was on the other line.

Throughout its legendary nine-season run, Seinfeld routinely tied itself to baseball, creatively incorporating the sport into its unique story lines.  Despite being a timeless classic that is still funny decades later, re-watching some of the baseball references within the series can really cause Seinfeld to show its age.  After all, much has changed since the 1990s.  However, that does not necessarily mean the ongoing relationship between Major League Baseball and one of the greatest television shows of all-time has to come to an abrupt end.

It has been quite some time since an unconstrained, ingenious George Costanza used “simple physics” to show Bernie and Derek how to hit.  Bernie has retired, and Derek Jeter is no longer a youthful newcomer to the Yankees.  Although he has helped the Bombers win four championships since George tried giving him batting tips, The Captain has had trouble getting back on the field in 2013.  Not to imply that he wasn’t fully committed to his rehab, but he did have a lot more time than usual to do activities unrelated to baseball in the beginning of the year.

While Starbucks is a lot more glamorous than “little, tiny, filthy, smelly” Dinky Donuts, apparently Joe DiMaggio isn’t the only Yankees legend that braves the crowded streets of New York City for some coffee.  Perhaps to avoid the yelping and table-banging of people like Kramer, Jeter went a step further than DiMaggio to conceal his celebrity status.  According to the New York Post, he used the alias Philip while ordering his coffee back in May, when he was recovering on what would be the first of three trips to the disabled list this year.

Since returning from his most recent rehab stint on August 26, Jeter has played in nine games and is hitting .212 with only one extra-base hit during that span.  On the season, Derek has played in a total of 14 games and has gone 11-52 (.212) with one home run and six RBI.  The Yankees are hoping their shortstop can salvage the last month of this season and give them the added intensity they desperately need.

Alex Rodriguez, albeit dealing with additional issues, is another Yankee who has battled a slew of injuries to return to the lineup this year.  Since rejoining the Yankees in 2013, Alex is hitting .277 with four homers, 10 RBI and 14 runs scored.  He has recorded a hit in 20 of the 26 games he has appeared in, and he has reached base safely in 24 of those 26 games.  After getting hit with a pitch by Ryan Dempster, the man single-handedly reignited the diminished spark in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.  Like it or not, Alex Rodriguez is significantly contributing to what is left of the Yankees’ 2013 season.

Jerry Seinfeld and Newman seemed to be, at times, mortal enemies.  They despised each other and, much like the Yankees and A-Rod, often did things that they knew would negatively affect one another.  In fact, the culmination of the wavering relationship between Jerry and Newman, marked by a classic Newman tirade in “The Finale,” is quite comparable to the way the Yankees (and baseball fans) likely feel toward A-Rod as they wait for the appeal process to run its course:

“Hear me, and hear me well.  The day will come.  Oh, yes, mark my words, Seinfeld.  Your day of reckoning is coming; when an evil wind will blow through your little play-world and wipe that smug smile off your face.  And I’ll be there, in all my glory, watching, watching as it all comes crumbling down.”

Now, if you can’t substitute “Alex” for “Seinfeld” in the above quotation and read it while envisioning Brian Cashman stating it emphatically while banging his fists on a table, you probably aren’t familiar with the Rodriguez-Yankees saga that has been going on for a great deal of the season.

Despite their ongoing rivalry, though, there were some instances in which Jerry and Newman put their differences aside to focus on a common goal, such as catching a suspected drug-using accountant or getting the last bowls of soup from the Soup Nazi before he leaves the country.

At least until the appeal hearing, which is likely to happen after the postseason concludes, the Yankees – organization and fans alike – are stuck with Alex Rodriguez.  Similarly, Alex is stuck with the Yankees, an organization that has seemingly done whatever it could in order to prevent him from staying with the team.  Alex and the Yankees are obviously at odds, but both parties should, like Jerry and Newman, temporarily put their differences aside and just accept the fact that (at least for now) they both have the same goal in mind: to not only make the playoffs, but to win another World Series.

Like A-Rod, Danny Tartabull has also fallen dramatically from his former superstar status.  Far worse than missing a PBS fundraiser because someone inadvertently gave him the middle finger, Tartabull was listed on L.A. County Child Support Services Department’s “Most Wanted” list.  Apparently, Tartabull, who hit 81 homers and 282 RBI in his four seasons with the Yankees, owes more than a quarter-million dollars in child support.  Hopefully he is wearing cotton as opposed to polyester so that he is cool and comfortable while running from the law.

Presumably, Buck Showalter – now in his third full season as the Orioles’ skipper – took George’s advice and currently equips his new team will all-cotton uniforms.  The clubhouse manager must be taking great care of the laundry, as the uniforms have not shrunk and therefore hindered the O’s in any way.  Led by Chris Davis, AL MVP candidate and current major-league leader in home runs, the O’s have collectively hit more home runs than any other team in the Majors.

In agreement with Paul O’Neill, even Crush Davis knows that it is not easy to hit two home runs in one game.  To his credit, Paul O’Neill had 14 two-homer games and one three-homer game, even though, as he stated to Kramer, “it’s hard to hit home runs.”  Out of the 117 career games Davis has homered in, only five of which were two-home-run games.  However, three of those two-homer games have come this year.  Perhaps someone in Baltimore is trying to obtain Orioles memorabilia from a sick kid in a hospital and has paid Davis three locker-room visits this year to ask for a couple of dingers.

As previously mentioned, the O’s rely heavily on their offense.  The starting pitching, outside of Chris Tillman and Wei-Yin Chen, has been abysmal, but the bullpen has been the anchor of the Orioles’ pitching staff this year.  Tied at 41 saves with Mariano Rivera for the American League lead, closer Jim Johnson is one of three closers (with Mo and Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel being the other two) so far in MLB to reach the 40-save plateau in 2013.

There are currently six other closers with 35+ saves that will likely eclipse 40 before the season ends.  The Athletics’ Grant Balfour, currently with 36 saves, is an under-the-radar type of guy, but has had an amazing year for Oakland.  After stepping in late as the closer last year and converting 24 of 26 saves, Balfour has picked up right where he left off.  So far in 2013, Balfour has a 2.47 ERA and has converted 36 of his 38 save opportunities.

Born and raised in Australia, it may only be a matter of time before the fiery, foul-mouthed Aussie develops his own variation of Elaine’s “maybe the dingo ate your baby” to work into his closer persona.

Another one of those closers likely to eclipse the 40-save mark this year is someone very well known to Yankees fans, Rafael Soriano.  Although the Nationals closer has blown six saves and is currently sporting an ERA of 3.47, he has still converted an impressive 38 saves thus far.  He seems to have settled down as of late, converting six straight saves and not blowing an opportunity since August 17.

For Soriano, though, this season was initially in jeopardy.  During Spring Training, it was reported that Soriano was having trouble obtaining a visa to return back to the United States from his native Dominican Republic.  Though there were talks of the issue possibly causing delays into the regular season, Soriano ended up only missing a few days of camp.

It is still unclear whether or not Babu Bhatt contacted Soriano during the ordeal to offer some advice.  Bhatt, as most Seinfeld fans should remember, was deported back to Pakistan because his visa application was accidentally placed in Jerry’s mailbox while Jerry was away.  Before he was deported, however, Jerry was not a “very, very bad man” to Babu; in fact, Jerry was the first customer at Babu’s fledgling Dream Cafe, a restaurant serving a variety of different foods from countries and cultures all over the world.

Like Babu Bhatt’s Dream Cafe, ballparks have certainly expanded the focus of their in-stadium cuisine choices beyond the traditional hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks.  In Baltimore, there are crab cakes and even crab-cake-topped burgers and waffle fries available.  In Texas, those visiting Rangers Ballpark in Arlington can purchase a Boomstick, which is a three-pound, two-foot-long hot dog topped with chili, nacho cheese, jalapeños and onions.  In Pittsburgh, fans can chow down on a Brunch Burger, a bacon-beef patty topped with egg and cheese that is housed on a glazed-donut bun.  No word yet on how many stadiums Jerry Seinfeld has tried to convince to adopt an all-Pakistani menu.

Clearly, a lot has changed since the Seinfeld-dominated 1990s.  However, the show – living up to its timeless nature – can certainly still be applied to the game of baseball that it was regularly tied to during its nine-year campaign.  Looking forward, as the Yankees are reportedly very interested in Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka, one can only hope that Kramer isn’t in charge of his lodging accommodations during any future trip to New York.

Speaking of Japan, in case Yankees fans forgot, after being granted free agency at the end of 2012, Andruw Jones and Casey McGehee joined the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles – coincidentally the same team for which the aforementioned Tanaka pitches – of the Japanese Pacific League.  Much like Jerry’s appearance on the Japanese comedy show Super Terrific Happy Hour, the Land of the Rising Sun has brought success to the pair of ex-Yankees.  Through 115 games, Jones has 19 home runs and 67 RBI.  McGehee is doing even better, currently hitting .307 with 22 homers (fourth best in the Pacific League) and 76 RBI (fifth best).  The fact that average fans have instant access to detailed, current stats and standings from other professional baseball leagues around the world is a telling sign of how much times have really changed since Jerry resided in apartment 5A.

Relating back to the quotation written in the beginning of the article, one may find it inconceivable in 2013 to completely avoid the score/happenings of a Major League Baseball game for an entire day, as Jerry did when he answered his phone with that warning.  Between around-the-clock television/Internet coverage and the widespread acceptance of social media, Kramer would not have even had a chance to blow the results of the game for Jerry in modern times.  Maybe an updated version of Jerry avoiding Twitter and Facebook all night because he DVRed the Mets game can be added to Modern Seinfeld, a parody account on Twitter that proposes present-day story lines for hypothetical Seinfeld episodes.

This piece should probably end by stating something about the placement of buttons on a dress shirt, but that has already been done before…

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