Originally created 05/14/98

Sporting world was vehicle for 'Seinfeld'



For a show about nothing, this Seinfeld sure is buzzin.

Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer have appeared separate or together on just about every magazine cover this past month save Sports Illustrated -- not that there's anything wrong with that.

Everyone's trying to put a different spin on the life-changing sitcom, the one that altered our viewing habits, our speech, our affection for families and our belief that New Yorkers are sane.

Here's my take: more than any show not on ESPN, Seinfeld and its dysfunctional, neurotic foursome used the goofy world of sports as a vehicle to drive home an assortment of laughs yada yada yada you get the picture.

Humor is found in many places, and it took Seinfeld to show us that punchlines are in abundance when you observe daily minutiae from the games we play: golf, softball, tennis, hockey and especially baseball.

Entertainment Weekly counted up 51 baseball references during Seinfeld's nine seasons, the seventh most frequent recurring obsession on this obsessive-compulsive half hour.

Ever stop to consider the irony in handing George Costanza, self-proclaimed Lord of the Idiots, a small semblance of power in running the Yankees, a team run into water by George Steinbrenner, the feudal boss?

Seinfeld challenged all conventions, and the sporting world is no exception. So goodbye to Mulva, to low talkers and puffy shirts, to Babu and Sue Ellen Mischke, and as Sidra would say, this list of top 10 Seinfeld sports' moments is real and it's spectacular.

10. "Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio, Costanza?" Jerry asks George after the world's largest loser lands a coveted job working for the Yankees. (Episode 82, The Opposite).

9. In an affront to all Yankees fans, Elaine wears an Orioles hat, twice, to the owner's box seats. When she gets the Bronx boot, we learn that the Big Apple is definitely not for the Birds. (Episode 37, The Letter).

8. No one is safe from Seinfeld, especially Bette Midler, whom George runs over and injures during a charity softball game. (Episode 104, The Understudy).

7. The quartet's most avid sportsman, Kramer uses the Atlantic as his personal driving range. How can you not laugh when one of his Titleists lodges in a whale's blowhole, beaching the mammal and requiring George the marine biologist to fetch it. (Episode 75, The Marine Biologist).

6. In trying to get fired from his Yankees job, George dons Babe Ruth's jersey (not cotton, mind you) and spills strawberries all over it. (Episode 146, The Millennium.)

5. The oldest ballman in America, Kramer injures a Monica Seles soundalike while retrieving a ball at the U.S. Open. (Episode 67, The Lip Reader).

4. "I punched him Jerry," Kramer cries after he socks Mickey Mantle in the mouth during a brawl at a Florida fantasy camp. The instigator? Former Yankee first baseman Joe Pepitone. (Episode 53, The Visa).

3. A long-distance runner from Trinidad & Tobago oversleeps his Olympic race and stays with Elaine for the New York Marathon. Then Jerry takes over. (Episode 109, The Hot Tub).

2. It takes Roger McDowell and Keith Hernandez to devise a "second-spitter" and "magic loogie" conspiracy, one of the few Mets appearances. (Episode 34, The Boyfriend).

1. Steinbrenner treks to the Costanza home when he believes George is dead. In a moment of impassioned sorrow, Frank Costanza screams "How could trade Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps?!?" (Episode 116, The Caddy).

A question all of America would like to have answered.