Jeff Kent on “Survivor” recap: Nobody puts Jeff in a corner

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I watched Jeff Kent on “Survivor” last night so you didn’t have to …

• This week’s reward challenge involved each player holding a small idol on a tray and trying to slap the idol off the tray of their opponent. In the first round Kent beat his opponent, Malcolm, but they were matched up again to break the tie in the final round and Malcolm beat Kent to win the challenge.

• During the obstacle course immunity challenge Kent stayed back at the beginning to basically carry a female tribe-mate, Katie, who was really struggling. Later the tribe chose Kent to chop wood with a small hatchet, which when chopped all the way through released the next portion of the challenge. Kent started to slow down about halfway through and his tribe-mate Jonathan subbed for him.

• Kent’s tribe lost by about three seconds and for the first time they had to vote someone off the island, so he immediately approached new tribe member Denise about joining his alliance. She agreed, giving Kent’s group majority voting power.

• “Right now it comes down to who’s going to hold the most value in the challenges for us,” Kent explained while trying to determine which female tribe-mate to vote off, showing a pretty good understanding of how the Wins Above Replacement concept can apply to something other than baseball.

• In talking about the possibility of voting out Dawson, a female tribe-mate who performed poorly in the immunity challenge, Kent hilariously said: “I’m fricking fumed.” Actually, it was more like “I’m frickin’ fuuuumed.” And then he spit, like he was standing at second base between pitches.

• Dawson, who’s the only person aware of Kent’s baseball days, decided to tweak him by bringing up sports as a conversation topic. Here’s an except of their exchange while lounging around the campsite:

Dawson: “Maybe I should date an athlete.”
Kent: “What do you consider an athlete?”
Dawson: “Basketball … and I guess at the end maybe baseball. … There’s too much standing around.”

Then she admitted to the camera that she knew about Kent and explained: “I enjoy … making him uncomfortable. I feel like I’ve got a little mouse that doesn’t know it’s in a corner.”

• Kent started to get nervous, saying to the camera: “Dawson starts talking a lot of sports, so I’m walking on egg shells. Right now I’m having a good time with these people being normal. And I am normal. If they end up putting two and two together, I’m in trouble. If Dawson knows my history as an athlete, the best scenario might just be to vote her out.”

• Sure enough, Dawson is voted out during tribal council and exits without saying a word to anyone about Kent’s baseball career. Not only does he appear to have a lot of power within his tribe thanks to the majority alliance, Kent’s secret is seemingly now safe for the remainder of the show.

Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

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Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.