‘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 2017 Yankees are, somehow, plucky underdogs

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There’s a lot that has happened in the past year that I never, ever would’ve thought would or even could happen in America. Many of them are serious, some are not, some make me kinda happy and some make me terribly sad. I’m sure a lot of people have felt that way in this oddest of years.

There’s one thing in baseball, however, that still has me searching my feelings in a desperate effort to know what to feel: The New York Yankees are the postseason’s plucky underdogs.

This is not about them being lovable or likable — we touched on that last week — it’s more about the role they play in the grand postseason drama. A postseason they weren’t even supposed to be in.

None of the three writers of this website thought the Yankees would win the AL East or a Wild Card. ESPN had 35 “experts” make predictions back in March, and only one of them — Steve Wulf — thought the Yankees would make the postseason (he thought they’d win the division). I’m sure if you go over the plethora of professional prognosticator’s predictions a few would have the Yankees squeaking in to the postseason on the Wild Card, but that was nothing approaching a consensus view. Their 2017 regular season was a surprise to almost everyone, with the expectation of a solid, if unspectacular rebuilding year being greatly exceeded. To use a sports cliche, nobody believed in them.

Then came the playoffs. Most people figured the Yankees would beat the Twins in the Wild Card game and they did, but most figured they’d be cannon fodder for the Indians. And yep, they fell down early, losing the first two games of the series and shooting themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion in the process. Yet they came back, beating arguably the best team in baseball and certainly the best team in the American League in three straight games despite the fact that . . . nobody believed in them.

Now we’re in the ALCS. The Astros — the other choice for best team in the American League if you didn’t think the Indians were — jumped out to a 2-0 lead, quieting the Yankees’ powerful bats. While a lot of teams have come back from 0-2 holes in seven game series, the feel of this thing as late as Monday morning was that, even if the Yankees take a game at home, Houston was going to cruise into the World Series. Once again . . . nobody believed in them.

Yet, here we are on this late Wednesday morning, with the Yankees having tied things up 2-2. As I wrote this morning, you still have to like the Astros’ chances given that their aces, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, are set to go in Games 5 and 6. I’m sure a lot of people feel still like the Astros’ chances for that reason. So that leads us to this . . .

It’s one thing for no one to have, objectively, believed in the Yankees chances. It’s another thing, though, for the New York Yankees — the 27-time World Champions, the 40-time American League pennant winners, the richest team in the game, the house-at-the-casino, U.S. Steel and the Evil Empire all wrapped into one — to officially play the “nobody believed in us” card on their own account. That’s the stuff of underdogs. Of Davids facing Goliaths. Of The Little Guy, demanding respect that no one ever considered affording them. If you’re not one of those underdogs and you’re playing that card, you’re almost always doing it out of some weird self-motivational technique and no one else will ever take you seriously. And now you’re telling me the NEW YORK FRIGGIN’ YANKEES are playing that card?

Thing is: they’re right. They’ve totally earned the right to play it because, really, no one believed in them. Even tied 2-2, I presume most people still don’t, actually.

I don’t know how to process this. Nothing in my 40 years of baseball fandom has prepared me for the Yankees to be the David to someone else’s Goliath and to claim righteous entitlement to the whole “nobody believed in us” thing.

Which, as I said at the beginning, is nothing new in the year 2017. I just never thought it’d happen in baseball.