By Jake Mulick
“If you know what happened in the (New York) Mets game, don’t say anything, I taped it, hello.”
This is how Jerry Seinfeld introduced his love for the Mets in the fourth episode of what a 60 Minute/Vanity Fair poll called the most successful sitcom in human history: “Seinfeld.” Seinfeld is, both in the show and in real life, a massive Mets fan, having been photographed at a myriad of games and has even been rumored to have interest in owning part of the team, according to the New York Times. I believe that part of Seinfeld’s persona is intrinsically linked with the Mets and he would not be as funny or, consequently, successful, if he were not a Mets fan.
The Mets are traditionally a lackluster team, not doing much more than existing under the New York Yankees’ shadow. From 1989 to 1999 (the years “Seinfeld” was on the air), the New York Mets cumulative record was 680-862, a deplorable showing from a team in a city that also has the Yankees, the team with the best record in baseball history, according to mlb.com. Not to mention the disappointing caliber of baseball the Mets play in order to infer that Seinfeld is a loser by any means, I would have to say he is the exact opposite. Seinfeld is worth almost a billion dollars, making him the second richest actor of all time, according to www.thesquander.com. I say this because had Seinfeld been a Yankees fan, he would have been completely unbearable.
It is easy to deal with the misadventures that the characters in “Seinfeld” partake in every episode because for some reason, they are able to almost pass themselves off as a loveable group of losers. All are single, flirting with vague employment for the duration of the show, (save Jerry, but let’s face it — a stand-up comedian is hardly a reliable career), living in the greatest city in the world, but having difficulty tolerating it, let alone conquering it.
The Mets are the perfect metaphor for these people. While this is true, the characters in the show keep plugging along, managing life to an extent and battling their conditions. The Mets, too, keep trucking on, despite being railed with disappointing results for multiple years in a row and constantly being reminded of what success is from just one borough over.
The Yankees, on the other hand, represent perennial success. Every year they don’t make the playoffs can be seen as a massive failure, and they expend copious amounts of money in order to ensure they are always a contender. If Seinfeld was a fan of the greatest baseball team of all time, the Yankees (yeah, I said it), I think the perception of himself for the duration of his tenure on the air would shift dramatically. I think viewers would overlook the loveable loser persona that Larry David attempts to pass off and instead focus on the fact that these characters kind of have most things going for them.
The characters on the show don’t experience real strife — after all, they live in a phenomenal city and are able to clothe and feed themselves. The Yankees’s problems are trivial, too, to an extent. Not winning the World Series every year is certainly a concern for any sports organization, but it would be almost absurd to expect to do so year-in and year-out.
The Mets faced real problems including decreasing ballpark attendance, not making it into the playoffs throughout the entire decade that Seinfeld was on the air, not to mention Bernie Madoff syphoning off millions and millions of dollars the entire time, according to Forbes and baseballreference.com. Fortunately, the Mets have been able to fall into greater fortunes and have turned around their team just in time for Seinfeld to retire and start another show about nothing, while driving around his cars that most of us can only dream of affording.