Midway through the pilot of the most successful show in television history, Kessler—later and better known as Kramer—enters his neighbor’s apartment and offers one of humanity’s most time-honored declarations: “Boy, the Mets blew it tonight.” Over the course of the ensuing decade, Seinfeld would log some serious mileage—masturbation, non-fat yogurt, the hazards of discount wedding invitations—but it would always return here, to sports, the truest snapshot of modern absurdity available to man. In that spirit, and with Seinfeld’s 28th birthday upon us, join The Loop for a look back at the show about nothing's 10 most hilarious sports moments. Needless to say, if you're not already doing your best Steinbrenner impression, GTFO.
10. The Marathon Man
Poor Jean Paul never saw it coming. Fresh off sleeping through the Olympics (WHY SEPARATE KNOB?!), the Trinidad & Tobago runner arrived in New York seeking his long-awaited marathon redemption. But he made one mistake: Choosing to stay with the four worst humans in all of NYC. A series of ridiculous events invariably ensues—including an offended wake-up caller, a hot-tub fuse explosion, and a cup of scalding coffee—but let’s just say Jean Paul didn’t exactly find the vindication he was looking for.
9. Joltin’ Joe is a Dunker
It's tough to be surprised by a celebrity sighting in New York, but Joe DiMaggio…in a Dinky Donuts? Well that was almost too much for the gang to believe, especially following Kramer’s allegation that The Yankee Clipper was a dunker. We may never know whether or not it was actually Joe, but whoever it was, they certainly knew how to stare down a donut hole like a breaking ball.
8. Knicks Tix and Nazis
While most people will forever (and rightly) remember this season three classic as “the one where Jerry and George are mistaken for Nazis”, the subtext is that they thought they were headed to a Knicks vs. Bulls game before realizing their limo was intended for a white supremacist named O’Brien. These days, we’d almost rather be held at gunpoint than go to a Knicks game, but in the mid-'90s, that was very different story.
7. Kramer Becomes a U.S. Open “Ball Man”
The greatest physical comedian in television history enters a U.S. Open ball boy try out as a grown—and completely oblivious—man. As Kenny Bania would say, “that’s gold, Jerry, GOLD!”
6. The Face Painter
David Putty is arguably Seinfeld’s best B-character, but his crowning achievement didn’t come until the very end of season six, when, clad in face-paint and a Marty Brodeur sweater, he loosed his demonic fandom upon the world. Sure, Puddy scared a visiting priest from El Salvador to within a rosary bead of his life, but hey, ya gotta support the team.
5. Kramer’s Fantasy Camp
Most people go to baseball “fantasy” camps to relax and play grown-up make-believe for a few days. Kramer goes to protect the inside of the plate, Joe Pepitone be damned. Funnily enough, Pedro Martinez and Don Zimmer would go on to recreate this scene for real a little more than a decade later.
4. Elaine and the Orioles Hat
As a guy who has spent his entire life rooting against the home team, I’ve learned you have to be strategic about watching games behind enemy lines. Elaine hadn’t quite learned that lesson by the time “The Letter” rolled around, however, getting kicked out of the Yankees’ owners box for refusing to take off her Orioles cap. Meanwhile Kramer gets hit in the head with a baseball because of course he does.
3. The Magic Loogie
While Keith Hernandez as Jerry’s pre-bromance bromance may be the single funniest guest star turn in Seinfeld's 180-episode run, it will always be remembered for one thing and one thing only: The magic loogie monologue, in which Jerry—aping the crime noire schlock of JFK—debunks Kramer and Newman’s theory that Hernandez was their mysterious grassy-knoll spitter.
2. George and the Yankees: All of it
OK, so this one is a bit of cop-out, but it’s too hard to pick just one. From the moment Costanza bafooned his way into the Yankees’ front office, the string of dingers just didn’t stop. George gets Steinbreener addicted to calzones. George goes to Cuba to recruit players from Castro. George tells Buck Showalter to switch to cotton uniforms. And as if that wasn’t enough, George’s Yankees arc also gave us the voicemail to end all voicemails. Take it away, Frank.
1. Kramer Works on His Sand Game
Kramer’s long-running love affair with golf was always a fun little character touch—especially given his Arnold-Palmer-on-a-bender fashion sense. It paid far more substantial dividends in “The Marine Biologist”, however, when an innocent trip to the beach to hit some balls collided with an elaborate Costanza fib to produce one of the most memorable moments in Seinfeld lore. When the studio audience had finally silenced their shrieking, there was only question left to ask: What is that, a Titleist?