One of the world's funniest people is also one of the world's biggest baseball fans.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld says he thinks about baseball all the time and that he's fascinated by almost anything related to the sport and to his favorite team -- the New York Mets.
Seinfeld is currently preparing for the fifth season of his popular web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and producing "single-shot" mini-episodes on various topics, the next of which, on marriage, will be on the site Thursday afternoon.
We talked to Jerry on Wednesday and got his thoughts on all things baseball.
What was your first baseball memory?
It's a cliché, but walking through the tunnel at Shea Stadium of a night game, seeing that color -- the green and the seats and the lights. My cousin, who was much older than me, took me. My dad wasn't a sports fan. I was probably 10 or 11, and when those lights hit you and you see the green grass -- that's my first really powerful baseball moment. I remember getting a new pair of sneakers and saving them for that day, because I wanted a new pair of sneakers for my first time going to see a baseball game. They were white Keds.
When did you get really into it?
I was 11 or 12 years old. We had a huge orange La-Z-Boy recliner downstairs in my house on Long Island, and I just started watching the Mets. I fell in love with them instantly. I never liked the American League. The Yankees weren't my kind of team. I loved the Mets, the players they had and the way they played. I still love them.
How did you gravitate to having Tommie Agee as a favorite player?
Believe it or not, I was very fast when I was a kid. And I still love anyone that's fast. I love speed. He was one of the great ball hawks of his time. He had a great running style. I also like stylish guys. Also, 1969 with those two catches in the World Series -- he was fun to watch.
Who are some of your other favorite players?
I'm a huge [Curtis] Granderson fan right now. I love [Jacob] deGrom and [Matt] Harvey. I'm hoping Harvey comes back fully. He seems like a great competitor, which I like.
What was your evolution as a fan like as the rest of your life evolved?
There was a period of time in which I really immersed myself in the world of nightclub comedy. When I descended to that world -- there's a line in "The Producers" where Max Bialystock says to Leo Bloom, "In the days to come, you'll see very little of me." That's what happened to me as a stand-up. I just wanted to learn this and be this. I left baseball for most of the '70s and early '80s, and in the mid '80s once I was a real touring act, I really liked that '85 World Series -- Kansas City and the Cardinals. A great series.
Then I started relating my life to their life. The life of a stand-up comic is very similar to that of a baseball player. You perform on this 85 to 93 percent level on a daily basis. You can't give 100 because you've gotta do it every day. When you're that road comic and doing it twice a night or three times a night, the obvious analogy to the season of a baseball player. It's an everyday thing and an up and down thing. It's all about having a short memory and being in the moment of that game.
Bob Costas recently did an interview with Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout, and at the end of the interview, he said Michael Jordan never stepped on the court and went 0-for-20, that Tom Brady never stepped on the field and didn't complete a pass. But that happens to guys like Kershaw and Trout all the time.
That brutality, as a comedian, I can relate to that, because stand-up comedy is brutal that way. When you make movies or television, you spend a lot of time in the front office, casting, editing, producing, writing. When you're a stand-up, you're lacing them up and you're out on the field every day. You're hitting baseballs, running drills and you're in front of the crowd. When I finished the TV series, that's the life I wanted.
What was it like to be at Game 6 of the 1986 World Series?
I had a gig in Montana the night before. It took four planes to get there. I got to LaGuardia at 6 p.m. and raced over to Shea. I was in the upper deck with my brother-in-law.
I remember [it was like] the World Series was over [with two outs in the 10th], and then everybody's jumping up and down, and you're a little confused. You were halfway into mourning already. We left the stadium in silence, got in the parking lot and couldn't get out of the lot. I said, "Just turn the car off, I don't want to leave anyway." We sat in the parking lot listening to the radio and let the parking lot empty out, just in shock.
Then, the Game 7 rainout. That was great tension building [for what would happen -- the Mets winning the World Series] ...
Do you still have to warn people when they call you that you haven't seen the game and taped it, so don't say the score (which happened in the "Seinfeld" pilot)?
Not in the MLB At-Bat era. I have all the alerts on. It's really fun to see how fast your phone beeps after a run scores.
What is the experience of going to a game like for you?
I have one of those fancy boxes now, which I don't like that much because people want to socialize, and I don't really like to socialize at a baseball game. I just want to sit there quietly and watch every pitch.
I am completely absorbed by every pitch. I don't need to watch every pitch or do anything else. I'm always aware of all the wheels turning every second.
I've been doing this joke lately, because I turned 60 this year, and people around that age make a bucket list. I made a bucket list, turned the "b" to an "f" and was done with it. If you want to kite surf down the Amazon, go ahead. I'm going to crack open a beer and watch a ballgame.
When I think of retirement, all I would think of is going to a baseball game every day.
I kind of got into the World Cup a little bit and watched some Stanley Cup this year. They're both great, but it's not as good as baseball. Even in replay, the sequence of how the events took place is not as clear to understand. In baseball, you understand as it's happening, you see something that's transpiring in the moment because of the geometry of the game. These other sports don't have that clean geometry. Even in replay, you can't fully diagram in your mind, how did that even transpire?
In baseball, when someone tags up, knowing the excitement of what each guy has to do, and then you watch it. It's unbeatable.
The next "Single Shot"episode of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" is about marriage. Did you have to sell your wife on baseball? What's it like teaching the game to your kids?
She was into baseball when we were dating, which was a huge thing.
It's great to explain it to my kids. They sense the enthusiasm, and they get into it. We play every day in the yard or in the living room. It's the announcing. If you do good announcing, you can get kids into baseball. I do different home run calls, like "That one's not coming back."
How much of your day do you spend thinking about baseball?
All day. Baseball is a two-day sport. You have the day of the game and the day after. Each game is big. If you win, you're happy that day and the next day. If you lose, you're bumming for two days.
Did you play baseball at all?
Only in the street, but never had a uniform or was never on a team. I played in the Broadway Show League. That was tons of fun. When The Comic Strip played the Improv, that was always the big game. [My kids and I] play hardball in the yard or in the living room.
Let's do a few quick-hitter questions: Do you like replay?
No. I don't care about the getting it right. It's part of the charm of the game. It's not that important. I like the umpires. These guys sacrifice more than anybody. Whatever that guy says, I'm good with it.
Do you prefer 1-0 games or 10-9?
I don't care. I like every game. I did an opening [for a game] and I said, "As long as the grass is green, the bats are wood and the gloves are leather, that's all I care about."
I've been debating this recently: Who would win a race, Mookie Wilson or Jose Reyes?
Home to third, like hitting a triple.
Reyes. Can't you just time it and find out?
I don't have a lot of Mookie triples footage.
You only need one. You've got to do something with that! Who is the fastest, home to third?
I didn't think he was that fast.
I asked scouts a few years ago, and they all said Ichiro [Suzuki] was fastest home to third when he was younger.
I'm obsessed with Ichiro. He's one of my favorite players. If I could be any athlete, that's the guy. He played the game in his own way on a unique level, with an amazing unique skill set: the hitting, the defense, the focus. He's a cool guy.
What are your thoughts on the current evolution of statistics in baseball?
I love it. I haven't fully absorbed them yet. OPS is better than batting average. WHIP is better for me than ERA, but it's hard to get them into your bones. There's no such thing as too many stats.
Can you make an argument for Keith Hernandez for the Hall of Fame?
Maybe. I don't think the Hall of Fame is that big on intangibles. You talk about a guy who reinvented his position, you would definitely say he did. That should be a criteria. That would be my argument. If you can reinvent the way a position is played, that's noteworthy, and you're a part of baseball history.
Has there been any thought of doing anyone in baseball for a guest spot on "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee"? What about someone like Bob Uecker, who played baseball and has done comedy?
Maybe. That could be. I caught Uecker on the radio one time in Milwaukee. He was describing a brat, a beer and mustard. He ended it with "Call it a perfect day." [laughs]
Can you preview anything about the new season of your show?
We keep the guests a secret. We do have some new camera equipment. We're always trying to up our visual game with the cars and the coffee. There are a couple of big legends that I'm pursuing that I haven't gotten yet, but I just love doing the show.
Let's end with this: What do you like best about baseball?
I learn something every time I watch it. Sometimes it's about baseball, sometimes it's about life. But it's always something.
There is no other game that is so shockingly correct in its original form. You look at the fact that a shortstop bobbles the ball and the runner can run much faster. It still works out that they still have to do what they do as best as they can, and it's still exactly even. That's just incomprehensible. If it's 91 feet, it's different.