05/14/2008 9:02 AM ET
Chuck: A column about nothing
Seinfeld's greatest hits in the world of baseball
By Bill Chuck / Special to MLB.com
Ten years ago, the most influential sitcom since "I Love Lucy" came to an end. The final episode of "Seinfeld" aired on May 14, 1998 and with it ended a series that may not have exhibited the best acting you will ever see, but certainly some of the greatest and most creative writing. And, viewed from this corner of the universe, some of the greatest baseball references ever on a television show.
As the Yankees currently drop further below .500, they need someone to look young Hank Steinbrenner in the face -- in the same manner that George Costanza addressed George Steinbrenner (voiced by the incomparable Larry David, but never seen on camera):
Mr. Steinbrenner: Nice to meet you.
George: Well, I wish I could say the same, but I must say, with all due respect, I find it very hard to see the logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization. In the past 20 years you have caused myself, and the city of New York, a good deal of distress, as we have watched you take our beloved Yankees and reduce them to a laughing stock, all for the glorification of your massive ego!
Mr. Steinbrenner: Hire this man!
This news brought a response from Jerry, "Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle ... Costanza?"
By the way, Hank Steinbrenner told a reporter yesterday, "This is going to get turned around. If it's not turned around this year, then it will be turned around next year, by force if we have to."
Do you think it might be worthwhile to send Costanza to Kansas City to discuss the fact that the team has only hit 19 homers so far this season? Before we do we must make sure he is going through an abstinence period which increases his intelligence as exhibited in the batting instruction scene with Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter:
George Costanza: Guys, hitting is not about muscle. It's simple physics. Calculate the velocity, v, in relation to the trajectory, t, in which g, gravity, of course remains a constant.
[George then hits a home run]
George Costanza: It's not complicated.
Derek Jeter: Now, who are you again?
George Costanza: George Costanza, assistant to the traveling secretary.
Bernie Williams: Are you the guy who put us in that Ramada in Milwaukee?
George Costanza: Do you wanna talk about hotels, or do you wanna win some ball games?
Derek Jeter: We won the World Series.
George Costanza: In six games.
I guess in retrospect Roger Cl*m*ns wishes, instead of an encounter with a 15-year old country singer, that he had met Elaine for a date like Keith Hernandez did:
Keith: Elaine, you don't know the first thing about first base.
Elaine: Well I know something about getting to first base...And I know you'll never be there.
Keith: The way I figure it, I've already been there. And I plan on rounding second tonight at about 11 o'clock.
Elaine: Well, I'd watch the third base coach if I were you, because I don't think he's waving you in.
That was the same episode in which the Seinfeld crew parodied the Zapruder film.
Inspirational moments are still needed and treasured in baseball. The Padres and their major league worst 14-25 record should be doing things that inspire them, perhaps like going to visit a sick child in the hospital like Kramer did in a scene reminiscent of baseball movies of yore:
Kramer: That you Bobby?
Kramer: Well, I heard that you have a very uh, special birthday card with all the Yankee autographs on it.
Bobby: Sure do. Mister.
Kramer: Oh, that's it, yeah. Boy, Stubs sure went to town with this thing huh? Yeah, well, Bobby, uh, what if I told you a very important person at the New York Yankees needed this card back.
Bobby: Oh, no. I'd never part with this card for anything in the world.
Kramer: Well, uh, Bobby, uh, who's your favorite Yankee.
Bobby: Paul O'Neill.
Kramer: All right. What if I tell Paul O'Neill to hit a home run tomorrow, just for you.
Bobby: Would he? Paul O'Neill would do that?
Kramer: For you he would.
Bobby: Would he hit two home runs?
Kramer: Two? Sure kid, yeah. But then you gotta promise you'll do something for me.
Bobby: I know. Get out of this bed one day and walk again.
Kramer: Yeah, that would be nice. But I really just need this card.
The trouble was that Kramer then had to let O'Neill in on the deal:?
Kramer: Mr. O'Neill?
Kramer: Yeah, uh, look, you don't know me.
O'Neill: I can give you an autograph there, but my pen's kind of screwed up. You'd only like half a "P" or something.
Kramer: No, it's uh, not that see,. It's about a little boy in a hospital. I was wondering if you could do something to lift his spirits.
O'Neill: Sure, I could help you there.
Kramer: Sure, well I promised you would hit him two home runs.
O'Neill: Say what?
Kramer: You know, Klick! A couple of dingers.
O'Neill: You promised a kid in the hospital that I would hit two home runs?
Kramer: Yeah, well, no good?
O'Neill: Yeah. That's no good. It's terrible. You don't hit home runs like that. It's hard to hit home runs. And where the heck did you get two from?
Kramer: Two is better than one.
O'Neill: That, that's ridiculous. I'm not a home run hitter.
Kramer: Well, Babe Ruth did it.
O'Neill: He did not.
Kramer: Oh, do you say that Babe Ruth is a liar?
O'Neill: I'm not calling him a liar but he was not stupid enough to promise two.
Kramer: Well, maybe I did overextend myself.
O'Neill: How the heck did you get in here anyway?
For those of you care about how that ended, Kramer watched the game with Bobby and O'Neill did indeed homer. In the bottom of the 8th, O'Neill slammed a shot into deep left field and scored on what appears to be an inside-the-park home run, but the official scorer rules it a triple and an error. Bobby won't give up the card, so Kramer promises that O'Neill will catch a ball in his hat the next night.
Maybe the Mariners and their 15-25 record need to talk to the Yanks or anybody about a trade. I only mention that because I recall the episode in which Steinbrenner had to inform the Costanzas that apparently their son George is dead. Here's how that phone call went:
Steinbrenner: My name is George Steinbrenner, I'm afraid I have some very sad new about your son.
Estelle: (crying) I can't believe it, he was so young. How could this have happened?
Steinbrenner: Well, he'd been logging some pretty heavy hours, first one in in the morning, last one to leave at night. That kid was a human dynamo.
Estelle: Are you sure you're talking about George?
Steinbrenner: You are Mr. and Mrs. Costanza?
Frank: (yelling) What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for? He had 30 home runs, over 100 RBIs last year, he's got a rocket for an arm, you don't know what the hell you're doin'!
Steinbrenner: Well, Buhner was a good prospect, no question about it. But my baseball people love Ken Phelps' bat. They kept saying 'Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps'.
Now that interleague play is around the corner we should think back on "The Hot Tub" episode in which representatives from the Houston Astros visit New York and, as a representative of the Yankees, George entertains them. In the process, George picks up some Houston "colloquialisms." Inside an airplane, the Astros reps called George at Yankee Stadium:
Clayton: uh...is that you, George?
George: (laughs) Yeah, it's me. Is this Clayton?
Clayton: Well listen, you son of a bitch! You know where we are? 30 000 feet above your head, you bastard! (the 3 laugh and howl)
George: What are they doin' lettin' you bastards on an airplane? Don't they know that's against FAA regulation?
Clayton: (to the other 2 men) Hey, hush up, now! I can't hear him!
George: Listen. I want you guys to send along those agreements the minute you land. Our boys can't wait to kick your butts!
Zeke: (to Clayton) When's that bastard comin' to Houston?
Clayton: Hey, Zeke wants to know when you Yankee bastards are comin' to Houston!
George: You tell that son of a bitch no Yankee is ever comin' to Houston. Not as long as you bastards are running things.
Clayton: Hey, uh, speak up, George, I can't hear ya!
George: (Mr. Wilhelm comes in and hears George yelling) You tell that son of a bitch no Yankee is ever comin' to Houston! Not as long as you bastards are running things!
(Mr. Wilhelm comes running, takes the phone from George and hangs up)
Wilhelm: George! George, get a hold of yourself!
George: Mr. Wilhelm...
Wilhelm: What's the matter with you?!
George: Well I-I...
There was the episode in which Elaine is ejected from Yankee Stadium, George has the team switch to cotton uniforms:
Wade Boggs: What a fabric! Finally we can breathe.
Luis Polonia: Cotton is king.
Paul O'Neill: I never dreamed anything could be so soft and fluffy.
But the cotton uniforms shrunk, leaving the Yankees "running like penguins," and then George wore an authentic Babe Ruth jersey and wiped strawberry-stained hands on it in an attempt to get fired. Unfortunately for George, Steinbrenner has no problem with it, saying the team's gotta "tear down the past" and that Ruth was "nothing more than a fat old man, with little-girl legs."
Remember when Kramer claims he saw Joe DiMaggio and when he brushed back Mickey Mantle at a Fantasy Camp?
I'm sorry, did you imply that this column about nothing has gone on too long?
I don't think I like your attitude.
NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!
Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com and, with Jim Kaplan, is the author of the book, "Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs - Baseball's Grand (and not so Grand) Finales," with a Foreword by Jon Miller, published by ACTA Sports, and available worldwide.
Autographed first editions are available by contacting, Bill@billy-ball.com or order directly from Acta Sports, http://www.actasports.com/detail.html?&id=3427 or from your favorite bookstore.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.