Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jeff Kent Antics on CBS' "Survivor"

I have a confession to make.  I watch the CBS show Survivior and have since it’s inception.  I’m not sure why I latched on to this reality show from the beginning because I really can’t think of any others that I watch, but I have enjoyed it over the years. 
photo by Monty Brinton/CBS
So I took a particular interest in this season’s Survivor show since Huntington Beach native and former Giant and Dodger Jeff Kent was a competitor on the show.  I have to admit I was rooting for him.  

I know that Jeff Kent is a polarizing baseball figure.  A lot of Dodger fans disliked him because of his roots as a Giant.  Many Giant fans hate him because he finished his career as a Dodger and got emotional when he spoke of attending Dodger games as a kid with his dad in the introductory press conference in 2005.  Others had issues with Kent because of his demeanor as a player.  He was an "all business" type of player.  He took the game seriously.  Personally, I loved his game.  

To me, Kent was old school and misunderstood.  He led by example and hated the modern day players that showboat with celebratory hijinks.  I know he had problems with some of the new core of players coming up to the Dodgers.   That caused some tension in the clubhouse that probably could have been dealt with better had the manager at the time (Torre) been less concerned about his ego and more about the team's cohesion and chemistry.  I saw Kent positively interact with fans, specifically children, my son being one (earlier in his years as a Giant and later when my boy was a teenager while a Dodger).  He was nothing but a gentleman and true professional.

Getting back to the CBS reality show.  Kent's antics on the show very closely paralleled the way he played baseball.  He was all business and a fierce competitor.  None of it had to do with money.  The guy just wants to win.  I bet if they were playing "Tiddlywinks" he'd be going all out.  

On the first episode, within the first 10 seconds that the game started Kent claimed that he tore his ACL jumping out of a boat and banging his leg on a wood piling.  I have no doubt that he was injured because Jeff hobbled for quite some time over the next several episodes.  Being the tough athlete that he is, he never revealed to anyone (except the camera men in private) that he was injured.  Once players in this game know you aren’t 100%, they circle you like sharks would to bleeding prey and they eliminate you.  Jeff knew that he needed to keep his injury concealed from other players.  Another thing he successfully kept hidden from other competitors was his background as a former baseball player.

He gritted his way through the competition without revealing his true identity.  Only one player, (Dawson) knew he was a former baseball player, but she didn’t reveal it to any of the players.  She toyed with him and attempted to make him scramble.  "Maybe I should date an athlete," she told him in an early episode.  When asked what an athlete was she added that she didn't consider baseball players real athletes, "There's too much standing around."

Before Dawson was voted off the game, she continued mentally toying with Jeff in an attempt to raise his apprehension. During one of the nights when they were all resting under the canopy of their shelter, out of the blue she said, “You know what baseball team is the greatest?  The Braves.”  Kent didn’t say a word and nobody caught on to her antics.

When contestant Dana Lambert, (an injured player that had to leave the Island early), was interviewed about her time in the game and it was revealed to her that Kent was a ballplayer and multi-millionaire, she expressed surprise and said that she wished she had known that.  “I would have approached him with it (the information on his past).  He already has millions of dollars.  Why do they need to give him another million?”  (  Link to quote HERE  )

Kent hobbled his way through competitive challenges and somehow figured out a way to run and exert himself physically while jumping, climbing, diving, swimming and sprinting through the competition.  He formed and broke aliances, used mental savvy to blindside competitors and forged friendships in his attempt to weasel his way into the final 9 players.  I think it would have been interesting had his identity been exposed, but it never happened.

On the episode that aired tonight, a decision Kent made the previous day back fired on him as a player that he agreed to give immunity to in exchange for him throwing a challenge, turned his back on him and voted him out.  A perturbed Kent walked off the Survivor Island with that arrogant swagger he had as a ball player.  He looked as angry as if he just lost the NL Pennant.  His closing comment had to be one of the best I have ever seen on that show:

“You know what pisses me off?  I think I’ve made something like $60 million dollars when I was playing baseball and I want this frickin’ million dollars in this game.  And it’s not even a million bucks, its 600 grand by the time Obama takes it.  I’m a game 7 World Series loser and I played in the biggest games in the world and the worst games in the world.  This just sucks!”

Now that was definitely the Jeff Kent I remember...


  1. Kent is a legend. He grizzled attitude is still talked about and even joked about by Dodger fans. Good recap of Kent on Survivor. His closing line was great and he still has the fiery anger while trying to win a game.

  2. That closing line had us all rolling in laughter...Kent is truly a competitor.

  3. Evan, you expressed so well how I feel about Jeff. I love his respect for the game. I used to see him signing for kids on hot Summer days asking them "Do you play?". "What position?" Then advising them. Dislike Lisa for starting the whole thing that eventually got Jeff booted out. Not watching anymore. Bunch of snakes in the show.

  4. Emma, you are so right about Kent with the kids. Funny story and true too. Jeff's wife attended my church with her kids while they lived here in the Bay Area. I know her, but Jeff, not so much. Mainly because they only lived in the area during the baseball season and then they'd go back to Texas in the off season. Dana attended services weekly but Jeff was either on the road or playing on Sundays, so he couldn't attend church services more than once or twice a season. Anyway, the year he left the Giants and signed with Houston was a year my wife and I went to Vero Beach for Spring training. We went to Disneyworld on one of the days the Dodgers weren't playing. Just as we got on the tram that takes you from your vehicle to the amusement park, who did we come across? Jeff Kent, his wife Dana and their three kids. I greeted Dana and we laughed about how we had to travel 3,000 miles to run into each other. (Dana had been an advisor to my then teenage daughter at a church "Girls Camp" event). So we are making small talk and Jeff, the former Giant and newly signed Asto, is sitting there quiet with one of his kids on his lap. The tram stops. We got off and said our goodbye's and then my wife said, "you do realize you have a Dodger cap on don't you?" I forgot all about that. "No wonder his daughter's eyes got real big when we were talking," I said.

  5. I have never watched an episode of the "Survivor" or any other reality show. I can't get it out of my mind that there are TV people all over the place so any danger or challenge isn't real to me.

    I liked Jeff's play on the field. However, I thought he was not a very good team mate or example for chastising the Dodger kids publicly, claiming they didn't know how to be professionals. The easy answer is, help them. To me he was not a good club house person. In my opinion Joe Torre should not have had to deal with club house tension of which Jeff Kent was a part. Jeff was the professional but didn't act professionally in the club house or in not attempting to help the kids grow into the game. I agree Joe Torre didn't manage the club house as his reputation indicated he would but Jeff's attitude still sticks in my craw.

    1. Harold, You have a legitmate gripe about Kent. The thing is, he was the type that led by example. A lot of hustle, doing the unselfish things on the field, respecting the game, the fundamentals, moving runners over, arriving early, leaving late. I think he noted that the kids were taking over the clubhouse and it didn't set right with him. I have nothing to base that on. Just what I think happened. Jeff definitely could have handled things better. I think he knew his career was over and things happened in that clubhouse that we'll probably never know.