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‘Seinfeld Night’ superlatives

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Seinfeld Night hosted by the Brooklyn Cyclones was as much of a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the show, as it was a microcosm of everything so beloved from the show about nothing. The night has to be looked at more as performance art than merely a baseball game, and as such, we at HBT thought it was only right to hand out awards for the theatrics on display in Coney Island.

Without further ado, here are the awards:

No soup for you! award goes to: The entire Brooklyn Cyclones squad.

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It is one thing to lose, it is a completely separate thing to “shrink”to the occasion in the fashion that the home team did on Saturday night. The Cyclones did their best sitcom impersonation on the diamond, collecting five errors and seven unearned runs en route to an 18-2 trouncing at the hands of the lowly Aberdeen Ironbirds. The Ironbirds, who came into the game with just three wins on the season, spoiled what is sure to be one of the biggest games of the season for the Cyclones, who were playing in front of a sold-out crowd on July Fourth weekend. For your performance, we say: No soup for you, Cyclones.

The best Newman award goes to: Jhoan Ureña

Seinfeld’s Newman embodies someone who cares just enough about his job to get by. Raining? No way he’s going to work. Don’t feel like delivering the mail? Just hide it in Jerry’s storage locker. Well, Cyclones 3B Jhoan Ureña really took this commitment to excellence to heart in Saturday night’s affair.

Ureña had two specific plays that stick out from last night’s game. In the first inning, Ureña received the benefit of the doubt from a home box scorer when he botched a chopper to third base. Ureña allowed the ball to skip off of his glove, where it sailed into left field, allowing a run in the process. The following inning, Ureña attempted to make a play on the ball that was clearly out of range, losing his glove in the process. What does Ureña do? Looks around sheepishly, shrugs and scoops up his mitt. Never change, Jhoan.

The Show About Nothing award goes to: Kenny Kramer

The inspiration for Seinfeld’s wackiest character, Cosmo Kramer, Kenny Kramer was Larry David’s neighbor for many years while the show’s co-creator lived in New York. What was Kramer doing at Seinfeld Night one may ask? Doesn’t he have other things to be doing than celebrating a character that largely mocked him on public television? Those would be very astute questions.

While it’s hard to say for sure, it seems Kenny Kramer has not made too much of himself in the time since he lived next to David. Kenny works with a traveling reality show that uses Kramer’s likeness from the show to attract a crowd. Kenny spent much of the evening vying for camera time and telling patrons to make sure they get a fair price for their signed Seinfeld items on eBay or it hurts his sales. Having said that, the man seemed like a very nice fellow, just a nice fellow that was out of place in this celebration of the show not that there is anything wrong with that.

The Most Convincing Mailman goes to: This guy

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Newman could learn a few things from this stand up gentleman.

The award for Worst Low-Talkers goes to: The Seinfeld Night crowd!

As the errors piled up and the game wore on, the crowd became more and more irritable; raining down a chorus of taunts and boos from the stands. It seems the Cyclones are in fact, not the masters of their domain. With this dearth of low-talkers in the crowd, the jeers were audible in every corner of Vandelay Industries Park on Saturday night. Who can blame them, though? Wild pitches, errors and fundamental blunders were easier to find than Seinfeld re-runs on a weekday afternoon.

Finally, the award for Best Pirate costume goes to: Sandy the Seagull!

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Wait, what’s that? You don’t want to be a pirate?

That is it for HBT’s Seinfeld Night superlatives. There is a silver lining for the fans and Cyclones both. Surprising as it may seem now, Seinfeld struggled with ratings during the early years and was almost cancelled on numerous occasions, so not all hope is lost for the Cyclones. Who knows, Brooklyn may evolve into a Seinfeld-ian dynasty come next season, as George says, “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

 

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.

Report: Juan Uribe is too expensive for the Giants

New York Mets' Juan Uribe follows the flight of his solo home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chris Rusin in the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that, while the Giants are interested in free agent Juan Uribe, the utilityman’s asking price is too high for the club. Despite having a capable starter at every position, the Giants are a bit thin on depth and Uribe would be a nice fit given his versatility.

Uribe, 36, spent last season with the Dodgers, Braves, and Mets. He hit a combined .253/.320/.417 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI over 397 plate appearances. In his only postseason plate appearance for the Mets, he hit an RBI single in Game 3 of the World Series against the Royals.

Uribe has mostly played third base in recent seasons, but also has plenty of experience at second base and shortstop.

A study showed “grit” isn’t always a great attribute

Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper slides into third with a three RBI triple during the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, April 25, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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This popped up in my Twitter feed and I felt it had some applicability to baseball. This past October, Olga Khazan of The Atlantic highlighted a study in which researchers from the University of Southern California and Northeastern University performed three separate but related experiments to determine how “gritty” their subjects were.

One experiment had them solve anagrams. The second, a computer game. Finally, the third test had them solve math problems. Those who were deemed “grittier” attempted to solve fewer anagrams, which means they were sticking too long with difficult words rather than skipping and moving onto easier ones. The “grittier” crowd worked harder when losing at the computer game, but worked only as hard as the less-gritty when winning. With the math problems, the subjects when stuck were given a choice to take $1 and quit or keep going for a potential reward of $2 but $0 if they failed. The study showed that the “grittier” people weren’t any more productive but were more willing to risk the $1 for the doubled prize.

“Grit” is also a common colloquialism in baseball circles, used to refer to players who always run out a routine ground ball or pop-up. Other common characteristics include a willingness to dive for fly balls, slide into players to break up double plays, and to stick up for their teammates when there’s a disagreement between members of two teams. Often, those deemed “gritty” are in many other ways subpar players, but their perceived “grit” gives them value.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is a rare superstar player who has earned the “grit” descriptor. There are many examples showing why he has earned it, but the most famous incident occurred on May 13, 2013 at Dodger Stadium. Harper turned his back to the field to chase an A.J. Ellis fly ball but went face-first into the wall, suffering abrasions on his face and a jammed left shoulder. This was during a game the Nationals were comfortably winning 6-0 in the sixth inning. At the time, the Nationals were 95 percent favorites to win the game, according to FanGraphs. Is the risk of suffering an injury — which could keep Harper out only a game or two, or cause him to miss the rest of the season — worth potentially turning a double or triple into an out?

Famously, Philadelphia fans and talking heads got on outfielder Bobby Abreu’s case in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s because he appeared gun-shy when approaching the outfield fence on fly balls. He was under a lot of pressure to sacrifice his body for the supposed good of the team, and developed a reputation as “soft”. As a more recent example, former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins caught flack from fans when he didn’t run out a routine pop-up against the Mets on August 30, 2012. Then-manager Charlie Manuel benched the veteran. At the time, the Phillies were 62-69 and 17.5 games back of first place in the NL East and 8.5 games behind the second Wild Card. Freak injuries can happen, as Rollins’ teammate Ryan Howard showed when making the final out of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals. Is that non-zero injury risk worth the tiny chance that the infielder drops the pop-up and Rollins gets a single (or, in rarer cases, a double) in a game that is essentially meaningless?

The aforementioned study shows that maybe Abreu and Rollins had it right after all. Statistically, a freak injury that occurs on a “hustle” play is bound to happen. Maybe that’s what it will take to stop expecting athletes to put their bodies on the line for no realistic gain.

Zach Britton settles with the Orioles for $6.75 million

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Boston. The Orioles won 6-4. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
AP Photo/Steven Senne
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The Orioles and closer Zach Britton avoided an arbitration hearing, agreeing to a $6.75 million salary for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman reports. The club has now handled all of its remaining arbitration cases and won’t have to go to a hearing with any players.

Britton, in his second of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $7.9 million while the Orioles countered at $5.6 million. $6.75 million is exactly the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

The 28-year-old lefty saved 36 games in 40 chances last season for the O’s while putting up a 1.92 ERA with a 79/14 K/BB ratio over 65 2/3 innings.