soup nazi and puffy shirt

‘Seinfeld Night’ superlatives


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.


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


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!


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.”


In praise of one-game playoffs

Greg Holland
Leave a comment

In a lot of ways life is a battle between what is right and what feels good.

Indeed, you could make the argument that it’s the very basis of civilization, with the “feels good” thing being “hitting the neolithic gatherer next door over the head with your club and taking his grinding stones” and the “what is right” thing being, well, not doing that and, eventually, forming city councils and stuff.

Religion is all about that too, right? At least the religions that are not based on dressing up like goats, playing flutes around the fire and drinking all of the wine. Those are the opposite. The more popular religions, however, are all about doing the right thing in favor of the thing that feels really, really great in the moment.

Baseball, which has a similar importance to civilization and religion, has this same struggle.

When the playoffs come the theoretically right thing to do is to make each series as long as it can reasonably be so as to make each series as good a test as possible of the strength of each team. Sure, there are limits. We can’t play until next January and, at some point, the announcers run out of anecdotes to tell about each player as he steps out of the batters box and exhales. But the very point of a seven-game series is to, at the very least, make a team go through its rotation a bit and to take away some of the randomness that can occur in any one baseball game. Is it perfect? Oh, hell no, but that’s the idea.

All of that is thrown out the window for the Wild Card Games. One-and-done, baby. That’s it. Your slugger having an off night? Sorry. Your ace starting pitcher got some bad sushi the night before? Tough. The home plate umpire has a stiff back which keeps him from being able to see the bottom half of the strikezone with anything approaching accuracy? Hey, them’s the breaks. You get one damn game, fellas, and if everything doesn’t go just right, you’re going home. Even if you won 98 games this year.

Which is to say that the Wild Card Game is not fair. Not fair at all. It doesn’t tell you who the better baseball team is in any reasonable way. It doesn’t measure the sorts of things which make a good baseball team good over the course of the previous six months. It gives purchase to the forces of chaos, randomness, and luck in ways that even five and seven-game series don’t, and turns baseball, for two nights, into complete and utter crapshoots.

Good. This is a good thing.

I haven’t always felt that way. As recently as a year or two ago I am sure I wrote some long and thought-out thing about how the Wild Card Game is bad for the very reasons I stated above. And, intellectually, I continue to believe that tossing 162 games over the side in favor of a three-hour sphincter-clench is really messed up. But I’ve decided that, even though the Wild Card Game is not the best measure of baseball supremacy, it’s so much damn fun that we shouldn’t really care too much.

Life very often isn’t fair. Even when we establish structures in order to make it so. That city council that resulted, eventually, from our desire to keep people from beating their neighbors over the head works all kinds of injustices on people. That religion which was designed to save us from our baser instincts and work toward something more meaningful is corrupted so often that we barely bat an eye. Seven game series that, theoretically, tell us who the best team in baseball is often give us a champion that, really, wasn’t the best team in baseball as much as they were the best team for a ten-day period in late October.

So, if we’re not eschewing anything perfect, why not indulge in something less-than-perfect but super fun, at least for two nights? Why not put on some goat skins, fill our gourds with wine and dance around a fire while the Yankees, Astros, Pirates and Cubs squirm uncomfortably for our enjoyment? They’re big boys. No one is dying here. The guys who lose the Wild Card Games will be in nice big houses with their beautiful families this time come Friday. And we’ll have had a couple night worth of serious excitement.

What feels good and what’s right isn’t always the same thing. Once in a while, it’s good to just do what feels good. Now, where’s my flute?


Playoff Reset: The AL Wild Card Game

Wild Card

Each day throughout the playoffs we’re going to be doing what we’ll call a reset. Not always a preview, not always a recap, but a generalized summary of where we stand at the moment and what we have to look forward tonight.

Today, of course, is Day One of the playoffs so we can really only look ahead, so let’s look ahead to what’s on tap in tonight’s one and only game.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees, American League Wild Card Game
The Time: 8:08 PM Eastern. Or thereabouts.
The Place: Yankee Stadium, New York
The Channel: ESPN
The Starters: Dallas Keuchel vs. Masahiro Tanaka

The Upshot:

  • Dallas Keuchel is the Astros’ ace and may very well win the Cy Young Award, but he’s (a) pitching on three-days’ rest; and (b) not in Minute Maid Park, where he is clearly superior compared to how he does on the road. At the same time, (a) the Yankees haven’t figured him out this year, going scoreless against him in 16 innings and striking out 21 times, including a poor performance against him in the Bronx a month or so ago; and (b) lefty sinkerballer types are basically the platonic ideal of a pitcher you want to throw against the Yankees to drive them crazy. While, historically, pitchers going on short rest in the playoffs fare poorly — in the past 20 years they are 18-37 — sinkerballers and extreme groundball pitchers fare much better than most. It ain’t a perfect setup for him, but you gotta like Keuchel here.
  • Meanwhile, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka has made one career start vs. the Astros: this year, back on June 27. He got beat up, allowing six runs in five innings, receiving no decision. Those disclaimers about past performance not being indicative of future results you see in financial services commercials should apply to this and all other past matchup stats you see in the postseason, however. One random start here or there — or two in Keuchel’s case — doesn’t tell us a ton. This is baseball and tomorrow is always another day. At least if you don’t lose the Wild Card Game. More of a concern for Tanaka: rust. He has pitched only once since tweaking his hamstring against the Mets on September 18 and it wasn’t a good outing. At least he’s rested?
  • Both teams are dependent on the longball but both teams have struggled at times on offense down the stretch, with the Yankees’ bats being particular quiet in the season’s last month or so. Someone needs to wake up A-Rod. And Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley and Brian McCann for that matter too. Of course, all of that firepower may not matter. The playoffs often see offenses go quiet and pitching come to the fore. Both teams have decent bullpens — the Yankees’ far, far more than decent — and given Tanaka’s rust and Keuchel’s short rest, this one is very likely to come down to multiple innings of hard-throwing relief. That favors the Yankees if they can keep it close.
  • Both teams are basically stumbling into the postseason, with the Yankees having lost six of their last seven games. They’re also under .500 since the end of July. The Astros swooned themselves in the second half, going 11-16 in September before rebounding in the season’s last week. Good thing momentum generally isn’t a thing in the playoffs — remember those 2000 Yankees losing 15 of 18 before the playoffs started and then won the World Series! — because neither team here has much of it.

This is the Astros’ first playoff game in a decade. While the Yankees haven’t been in the postseason since 2012, there is a lot of playoff experience here, making this an interesting study in contrasts from a storyline perspective. At least if you’re into storylines. Personally I’m not. I’m more into baseball games and in this baseball game I think Keuchel is a tough draw for the Yankees, even on short rest. For New York to advance they’re gonna have to be a team they haven’t been for weeks and maybe months: one that lays off junk down low and hits the ball hard.