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Are you ready for some shirtless Jeff Kent melon-splitting? New season of Survivor starts tonight

Sep 19, 2012, 4:23 PM EDT

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Baseball’s known for its hotheads. And Survivor picked up one of its best when it signed on future Hall of Fame second baseman Jeff Kent to spice things up for CBS’s flagship reality show, which begins a new season tonight at 8 p.m. (ET).

We all remember Kent’s hilarious moments with his old buddy Barry Bonds, who he famously tried to maul in a 2002 dugout incident after Kent yelled at teammate David Bell and Bonds was not pleased. Later, when asked about the incident, Kent answered, “Just add that to the half a dozen times we’ve done it before. It’s no big deal.” And Kent later viewed Bonds as one of his best friends on the team, as he explained in a Q and A with the Oakland Tribune:

Said Kent, “Of all the Giants teams I played on, I truthfully had a better relationship with Barry than anyone else in the clubhouse. I understood him and knew what made him tick. I gave him his space, and I knew that we needed him. Sure, we didn’t really like each other, but we worked well together.”

So how will Kent fare out in the wilderness of the Philippines? I’ve compiled a list of quotes Kent has put together in reference to his Survivor adventure and I’ll do some good old fashioned analysis to determine what’s going to happen out there. Will Kent flourish or fail?

KENT QUOTE: “Well, I was a Boy Scout when I was young, and I’m a troop leader for our church now. I’ve owned a ranch and have done a lot of hunting and fishing, so I knew that the outdoors challenges really wouldn’t be a problem.”

As a former Boy Scout I can say that I spent more time learning how to burn sticks in the communal campfire than actually acquiring skills that will help me in the wild, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kent’s ultra competitive streak enabled him to acquire a bunch of random skills that will help him out in the Survivor world. And the fact that he’s a troop leader means his scouting skills are fresh. It looks like Kent will be a gigantic plus for his tribe as far as acquiring foods and living necessities.


Of course, he could be embellishing all of these facts and he might be that scout leader who brings in an RV and plays video games with all the kids until they tell him the trip’s over and he needs to pack up his inflatable pool. I loved that Dad.

“On the other hand, the social game was a big challenge. I have a hard time with people who talk too much or get under your skin or act lazy and stupid. It’s such a chess game out there. You’ve got to develop friendships quickly, find out who’s lying and who’s not. … You’ll have to watch to see how all that turned out.”

Uh oh. If there’s one thing we know Jeff Kent can’t do very well, it’s make friends. I can imagine Kent viciously psychoanalyzing every statement his fellow contestants make until he catches them in what he thinks is a false truth, whereupon he’ll jump out of his seat and yell, “YOU LIE!!!!!” as Jeff Probst turns to the rest of the contestants with a look of resignation and sighs out, “Ignore him, please”.

Of course, there’s the chance that the contestants will be in awe of being in the presence of a former Major League Baseball player and will let Kent run rampant over all of them as they bend to his will and become a hyperactive group bent on not getting yelled at by Jeff Kent. But my guess is everybody gets tired of him quickly and he’s voted out within the first five episodes.

“There’s some mean-looking ones, there’s some feisty-looking ones, there’s some people that look educated, and people [that do] not …”

So judgmental! My guess is Kent will judge everybody early and offend them all by telling them to their face how stupid he thinks they are by their looks. They will then counter by asking him if he’s washed any good motorcycles lately.

I don’t want to embarrass myself. I’ve got a reputation in baseball. I’ve done some stupid things in baseball, but I’ve played the game well, and I’ve played with integrity and respect.

This is a bit troubling. There’s the chance that Kent, now 44 with four kids and a wife, may have actually mellowed out and has become a decent, mild mannered retired father, which will be great for his chances on the show but not for all the people at home who are rooting for him to go berzerkers on everybody. Kent’s reputation is on the line, and if he acts a fool that might make Hall-of-Fame voters think differently about him.

He has a lot riding on this appearance and I think he knows that. Of course, there’s the chance he goes hunger crazy and forgets about the cameras and attempts to eat a contestant. That would be great television.

“The person who made the biggest impression on me was the fat, naked gay guy — Richard Hatch. He had a great personality and really played strategically. From the moment he got on that island, he stirred up the drama.”

Uh oh. If Hatch is Kent’s role model, bet on a lot of doublespeak and conniving attempts at getting people to hate other people, which will undoubtedly end in everybody hating Kent. Because when people who aren’t that clever try and do clever things, it usually ends in a lot of stupid statements, quizzical glances and banishment. Hatch was able to pull off a victory because he made it look like he just didn’t care very much. Kent will care way too much.

If he tries to model his game after Hatch, expect drama, failure and an early exit. And nudity. To succeed he’ll need to be more of a Rudy: head down, do your work, don’t talk much. Let your actions speak instead of your words. Because if Kent opens his mouth too much, expect some brawls and great television.

“I can be a hothead in baseball [and] I can be too aggressive at times. I’m pretty quiet too.”

Let’s pray the quiet side comes out.

“I can snap, absolutely. I’m just competitive — that’s my nature. I hate to lose. I try to do everything I can to win, when it doesn’t come my way I get ticked off.”

This is a warning sign. I’m putting the over under on five Jeff Kent ‘snaps’ before this season is through. If he’s talking about his temper so much already I expect it to come out. A lot.

“I think a lot of people have a perception of retired professional athletes that they’re set in their ways, that they made a lot of money and have basically stopped living. To me, that’s boring. I’ve tried to stay active in various ways, and I still have a competitive streak.”

That competitive streak will serve him well for the immunity challenges but it will probably work against him in all other aspects of Survivor, as an even keel is the way to make sure you don’t get vilified as everybody’s emotions are on edge because of the scary new environment as everybody has the same basic goal: Don’t go crazy on national television.

VERDICT: I’m pretty sure Kent is going to be the guy that makes a lot of people go crazy on national television.

‘Survivor: Philippines': MLB star Jeff Kent vs. tribemate Jonathan Penner – enemies or allies? [Zap2It]

‘Survivor': Jeff Kent puts on his game face [Inside Bay Area]