Hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since Seinfeld went off the air. One of the most popular shows in television history, Seinfeld left such an indelible mark on popular culture that it can still be felt a decade and a half later. Sports was always a big part of the show, whether it be baseball, tennis, golf, hockey or football, so we here at Last Angry Fan have compiled what we think are the show’s 10 greatest sports moments.
10. The Foundation
After J. Peterman has a mental breakdown and runs off to
Burma Myanmar, Elaine is left in charge of the company with the task of putting out the latest J. Peterman catalog. Unsure of herself, Kramer offers her words of wisdom that are equal parts Star Trek III: The Search for Spock gibberish about finding your ‘katra’ and equal parts inspiration he received from his karate training (or as Cosmo pronounces it, ka-ra-tay). This newfound confidence leads Elaine to put the urban sombrero on the cover of the catalog, which turns out to be a monumental disaster.
Only later do Jerry and Elaine find out that Kramer has been taking karate with a bunch of kids (“We’re all at the same skill level, Jerry”). Kramer dominates the dojo, obliterating his childish competition, when he’s confronted by Elaine in class, who angrily shoves him as the kids look on. Later they confront Kramer in an alleyway and take their revenge with their “tiny little fists of fury.”
9. The Race
Jerry, a huge fan of Superman, is thrilled to finally be dating a woman with the name Lois. As it turns out, Lois’ boss happens to be an old high school classmate of Jerry’s, Duncan Meyer, who holds a grudge against Jerry stemming from a race the two were in back in the 9th grade. Jerry got an inadvertent head start that nobody noticed, save for Duncan, and won the race easily. Jerry’s speed and ease in winning the sprint became the stuff of legend. Despite continual goading from Duncan for a rematch, Jerry refuses for fear that he will be exposed as a fraud.
Jerry finally relents and agrees to the rematch after he, Lois and Duncan meet at Monk’s. The day of the race there are a large number of Jerry and Duncan’s high school classmates present, as is Mr. Bevilacqua, the duo’s gym teacher. Duncan promises Lois a trip for her and Jerry to Hawaii should he lose again. As the two line up to race, Kramer’s car backfires, causing Jerry to get a head start and win handily, much to Duncan’s chagrin.
Classic moment at the end as Elaine goes to congratulate Jerry on his improbable win, only to be shoved aside as he makes his way to Lois’ waiting arms.
8. The Comeback
Jerry ends up at a private tennis club, where he buys a $200 tennis racquet off Milos, the club pro. After Jerry finds out that Milos is quite possible the world’s worst tennis player, he confronts him at the club because he felt he was duped into buying an expensive racquet. Milos wants to save face, first offering Jerry a free year’s membership at the club, and when that doesn’t pan out, he tries setting Jerry up with a beautiful woman he spied in the pro shop, which turns out to be Milos’ wife Patty.
JERRY: Milos, I can assure you, I had no intention of telling anyone about
your unbelievably bad tennis playing.
MILOS: (not cheered) Thank you, but, unfortunately, I have much larger
problems to fry. My wife, she has no respect for Milos anymore.
JERRY: I guess that’s a risk you run when you dabble in the flesh trade.
MILOS: Patty, she, she loves tennis, as much like I do. (hopeful) Wou..would
you, wi..will you let me beat you in tennis? That is the only way I can show
her I am still a man.
JERRY: (reluctant) Well, I’ll do it as long as there’s no other girls around.
I mean, I wanna be a man too.
Jerry rolls over for Milos (“Another game for Milos!!!”) so that the disgraced tennis pro will win his wife’s respect back, but when Milos’ boasting and trash talking become too much, Jerry turns it on and starts destroying Milos. At one point Milos loses his tennis racquet trying to return one of Jerry’s serves. The racquet hits a tennis club employee in the head, causing him to fall and redirect an automatic ball machine directly at Kramer’s head, who happens to be at the same club to meet his lawyer Shellbach and have his living will overturned.
Kramer ends up in a “coma” only to come out of it when Elaine “pulls the plug.” This episode also marks the one and only time you will hear the phrase “medieval sexual payola” uttered on TV.
7. The Understudy
Jerry is dating Gennice, an understudy to Bette Midler in the Broadway show Rochelle Rochelle. While playing in a celebrity softball match between The Improv and the cast of Rochelle Rochelle, George, after a bit of trash talking from Midler, hits a ball deep and tries for the inside-the-park home run. After rounding third he sees Midler waiting for him as she blocks the plate, so George channels his inner Pete Rose and goes full Ray Fosse on Midler, knocking her out momentarily. She awakens to find herself in Kramer’s arms, as he had gone to the game solely to see her.
In a parody of the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan incident, Midler is unable to perform in the show, meaning that Jerry’s girlfriend Gennice will take over the lead in Rochelle Rochelle. This doesn’t sit well with Kramer, or his idea of Broadway.
Kramer waits on Bette hand and foot in the hospital as she recuperates, and gives her his second great pasta sculpture, ‘Macaroni Midler’ (the first obviously being ‘Fusilli Jerry’).
The show ends with Gennice having to stop the performance just as it begins, because her boot comes untied, a direct reference to Tonya Harding’s broken skate laces incident in the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics.
6. The Face Painter
Jerry scores four tickets to the Rangers-Devils game off friend Alec Berg, and Elaine asks if she can bring her boyfriend David Puddy. She is disturbed to find out that Puddy is not only a huge Devils fan, but that he’s also a face painter.
The Devils win, and as the four are walking home, Puddy nearly gets hit by a car as he crosses the street. He then scares the bejeesus out of a priest riding in the passenger seat of the vehicle, making him believe he’s actually seen the devil.
Bonus points for Puddy wearing a custom Martin Brodeur jersey.
5. The Abstinence
After his girlfriend is mistakenly diagnosed with mononucleosis, George becomes a genius due to the fact that his mind is now clear to focus on other things, since he and his girlfriend have to abstain from sex. Along the way he dabbles in some science experiments, becomes and expert in Jeopardy, learns a little Portuguese, and tries to give Yankee greats Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter some batting tips.
Not a bad looking swing for a bald, pudgy guy. In the end he loses his mental sharpness after calculating the odds of having sex with the Portuguese waitress from Monk’s and realizing that statistically he has to do it. Can’t really say that we blame him.
4. The Lip Reader
George and Jerry are attending the U.S. Open tennis tournament, when Jerry becomes enamored with one of the lineswomen (played by Oscar winner Marlee Matlin), only to find out she’s deaf. George retreats to the snack bar, where he’s caught by television cameras stuffing his face with an ice cream sundae.
Jerry’s new girlfriend gets Kramer an audition to be a ball boy, where he nails it, despite the tryout being in excess of 3.5 hours. In the end Kramer gets the gig, but screws up royally when he accidentally knocks out out Monica Seles. Although you need to skip to the 3:20 mark to see Kramer’s tryout, I recommend at least watching the first minute or so of the clip for one of Seinfeld’s most hilarious moments.
3. The Visa
Kramer returns early from a fantasy baseball camp after plunking Joe Pepitone and sparking a bench clearing brawl. During the melee, as he’s trying to pull Moose Skowron off one of his teammates, someone grabs Kramer from behind, so he turns and punches the guy in the face. Turns out that guy was Kramer’s idol Mickey Mantle.
Kramer: Well, you know, we were playing a game and, you know, I was pitching,
and I was really throwing some smoke. And Joe Pepitone, he was up, and man that
guy, you know, he was crowding the plate.
Jerry: Wow! Joe Pepitone!
Kramer: Yeah, well, Joe Pepitone or not, I own the inside of that plate. So I
throw one, you know, inside, you know, a little chin music, put him right on his
pants. Cause I gotta intimidate when I’m on the mound. Well the next pitch,
he’s right back in the same place. So, I had to plunk him.
Jerry: You plunked him.
Kramer: Oh yeah. Well, he throws down his bat, he comes racing up to the
mound. Next thing, both benches are cleared, you know? A brouhaha breaks out
between the guys in the camp, you know, and the old Yankee players, and as I’m
trying to get Moose Skowron off of one of my teammates, you know, somebody pulls
me from behind, you know, and I turned around and I popped him. I looked down,
and woah man, it’s Mickey. I punched his lights out.
Kramer is eaten up inside with regret so he goes to Mickey Mantle’s restaurant in New York and begs The Mick to hit him. Mantle doesn’t oblige, but four guys pick up Kramer and throw him outside, right into a horse.
If you’re wondering why this one ranks so high, it’s because Mickey Mantle is my idol too.
2. The Marine Biologist
After running into Diane, an old friend from high school, Jerry tells her that George is now a marine biologist, even though George prefers to pretend he’s an architect. Kramer, meanwhile, has acquired 600 Titleist golf balls and goes to practice his golf swing by whacking a few hundred into the ocean.
Kramer comes to realize he’s not very good at golf, and offers up his clubs to Jerry and George because he stinks and lacks concentration.
George goes out on a date with Diane, and while explaining to her the intricacies of being a marine biologist while walking down the beach, they come across a group of people staring at something in the water. Turns out it’s a beached whale that’s dying, and when the crowd starts pleading for a marine biologist, George has no option but to hike up his pants, and wade out to help the whale. George recounts the tale to Jerry, Kramer and Elaine, in what is arguably the show’s most classic moment.
1. The Boyfriend
It’s well known that Jerry Seinfeld is a giant Mets fan, so it should have been of little surprise that when Mets legend Keith Hernandez made an appearance on the show playing himself, that they’d make it a two-parter. Jerry and Keith start up a bromance after meeting in the gym locker room following some pick-up basketball. Not only do we find out that Keith is a fan of Jerry’s stand-up, but we also find out George is a huge chucker.
When Kramer and Newman find out that Jerry has struck up a friendship with Keith Hernandez, they disapprove, and explain to Elaine exactly why they dislike Hernandez so much. The pair claim the Mets 1st baseman spit on them after Newman says to Hernandez, “nice game, pretty boy” following a game they attended in 1987, which the Mets lost after a key Hernandez error. In an exact reconstruction from Oliver Stone’s 1991 film JFK and the “Magic Bullet Theory,” including a Zapruder like film, with Wayne Knight playing the same role in both, Jerry reconstructs the incident with his “Magic Loogie Theory.”
Jerry believes there was a second spitter, and in the end he was right, as Mets reliever Roger McDowell, who was hiding in the bushes, was the one who spat on Kramer and Newman.
Honorable Mention: The Contest
When you can do an entire show about a contest in which the four main characters compete to see who can hold out on self-pleasure the longest, and have it become the series’ most popular episode, you know you’ve achieved something special. And really, for a lot of people, masturbation can be considered a sport. Sadly it’s also the only exercise some people get in a week.