Survivor Smacked Me In The Chops

Jeff Kent on “Survivor” recap: “By the time Obama takes it”

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

• Jonathan narrowly avoided being voted out in last week’s episode and is very upset, telling everyone how betrayed he feels by Kent and others who lied to him about their plan. Meanwhile, Kent remains completely focused on voting out Jonathan, admitting to the camera that he “gave up a lot of power and authority” in last week’s unsuccessful effort to do so.

• There are two stages to the immunity challenge. The first involves ripping through rope knots and then going through a mini-obstacle course, which Kent does well enough to advance to the final round with Jonathan and Pete. The second stage is solving a puzzle and Jonathan rallies late to win the challenge, securing immunity and saving himself from almost surely being voted out. In losing Kent remarks: “What a joke.”

• Talking to the camera a frustrated Kent opines that Jonathan “just bought himself another three days of a dead man walking.” He then openly tells Mike that he’s the new person on the chopping block. However, once Kent leaves the area multiple other players immediately bring up his name as someone to vote out.

• Kent catches wind that he might be in danger, telling the camera: “We were all set to let Mike go, but now I found out they’re gunning for me. Hopefully the bullet’s gonna go in the right direction.” Kent seemingly talks enough people to swing the vote into getting rid of Pete, telling the camera: “Pete’s going home and we all got all six votes.”

• Earlier in the episode Kent remarked to the camera that “Lisa is so naive and so soft and so nice.” In direct contrast to that Lisa (also known as “Blair” from “The Facts of Life”) outed Malcolm as holding one of the hidden immunity idols and during tribal council that causes Malcolm to admit he has it to everyone. And then in a very odd turn of events Abi confesses that she also has an immunity idol.

• With that information out in the open Jonathan basically pleads his case for everyone to keep him around and instead vote someone else out. When he asks if everyone is ready to do that, Kent tersely replies: “We’ve discussed those options and many more, I think you know about that.”

• “Survivor” host Jeff Probst is dumbfounded by what’s taking place, saying that this is the most complicated and interesting tribal council he’s seen in 25 seasons. And then to make it even crazier, neither Malcolm nor Abi actually play their immunity idol after convincing everyone not to vote for them because the vote would be wasted anyway once they played it.

• Probst begins to pull out the votes and after each one listing Kent’s name Kent has an absolutely hilarious reaction. Kent looks totally shocked with each vote, glancing to his right and left like the world’s worst actor had just been told by a director to “act shocked.” Then on the fourth vote with his name on it Kent literally mutters to himself, saying “wow.”

• It’s a 4-4 tie between Kent and Pete with one vote to go … and Kent is voted out. He is completely stunned.

• In his exit interview Kent goes off on one helluva rant:

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

Note: Kent actually made $86 million playing baseball and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Game 7 of the World Series in 2002, as his Giants lost to the Angels.

• In the span of one episode in television time and approximately 48 hours in real time Kent goes from seemingly being in complete control of the game to the point that he can determine who gets voted out to losing all control while being voted out himself in ninth place. And, most importantly, this means I no longer have to recap “Survivor” episodes in this space every Thursday morning and no longer have any excuse whatsoever to spend an hour each week watching this show.

The tribe has spoken!

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: