I know what you’re thinking. Nick, are you really so starved for content that you’re plumbing these depths? And yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve had a lot to write about. But on some level, this is a matter that’s been burning at the edges of your psyche for years now. Don’t deny it. No, don’t walk away. Come back. I’m not going to hurt you.
Look, it’s okay. You’re among friends. You can admit it. You have, in fact, watched the Seinfeld clip of George Costanza teaching Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams how to hit and wondered if the small Jason Alexander-shaped man could consistently hit in a big league lineup.
Some context may be necessary here. One of the running gags of this episode is that George has become a genius as a result of abstaining from sex. It’s that sudden brain power that enables George to both understand the physics of hitting and do that mental calculation in his head as the pitch is being delivered. Any theoretical competitive success George would have depends on him remaining abstinent.
With that in mind, let’s consider George the baseball player. Despite the fact that he can suddenly hit, Costanza is still Costanza. He’s a small barrel-shaped man. Jason Alexander comes in at 5’5″, or an inch shorter than Jose Altuve‘s listed height. George has no known athletic abilities prior to his brain-blast. Being smarter might help him track balls off the bat, but they’re not going to help his range or throwing arm. That means George would strictly be a designated hitter. And as he says, hitting is not about muscle.
We don’t get a full view of George’s hitting mechanics. Yet it’s safe to say that the assistant to the traveling secretary doesn’t have much of a stride in his swing. It’s all trunk and arms. Even more remarkable is that George is hitting pitches just below his shoulders out for home runs. There’s not much lift to the swing. It’s the sort of mechanics that would get a scout to put a mark on the low end of the 20-80 scale on his report.
Yet it’s hard to argue with the results. George’s mental trigonometry is somehow letting him use line-drive oriented swings at high pitches to hit homers. It’s simple physics, he says. Giancarlo Stanton can use that sort of level swing to will a ball over the fence. He hits lasers all the time. But George Costanza? Now that’s something else entirely.
It’s not complicated. George has unlocked another level of human cerebral capacity, even if he hasn’t realized the full extent of his powers just yet. He’s Bradley Cooper in Limitless. He’s Scarlett Johansson in Lucy. He’s Professor X. The abstinence is his radioactive spider, his Green Lantern ring.
George Costanza has transcended our feeble mortal plane.
He is more.
These are batting practice pitches. That’s not Roger Clemens throwing 95 MPH at his head. It matters not. Put him in a uniform under the bright lights with Randy Johnson on the mound, wondering who the hell this small portly man in the batter’s box is, and he will still succeed. Costanza’s cracked the code. He’s the best hitter on the planet. He would have won the World Series in fewer than six games.
Could George have made it in the big leagues? That might be the wrong question. A more apt line of inquiry might have been whether Costanza would have made it into Cooperstown with a unanimous vote before Mariano Rivera did.
Alas, this is George Costanza we’re dealing with here. The gods decided long before George generously tried to teach Jeter and Williams how to hit that our hero was doomed to failure. It’s part of who he is, in his very DNA. Not even elevating his mind to unholy levels of strength could save Costanza from himself. Later in the episode, George sleeps with a woman. And then it’s all gone. His brilliance, his mastery of Portuguese, his hitting ability. All gone.
For that, dear reader, is who George is. He is a fool. George could have been the toast of the baseball world. Instead, he was merely the guy who put the Yankees in that Ramada in Milwaukee. For one brief moment, George Costanza was a legend.
Then he was just George.