10:03 PM PST, November 8, 2012
The shock isn't that Jeff Kent is voted off "Survivor: Philippines" on Wednesday night, but that eight others go before him.
"I'll bet I was more entertaining than the crummy articles you write every week," Kent says by way of hello Thursday, and it's like old Dodgers times.
Just imagine being stuck on a deserted island with Kent.
He's joined by a bunch of bikinis, including a former Miss Utah teen and Miss Delaware USA. There's also a wimpish track coach with a mohawk, an African American cancer survivor with an earring in each ear and an openly lesbian competitor.
"A lot of people were laughing," Kent says when they saw the grouping. "But I don't have a problem with other people, black, white, gay or straight. I have a problem with idiots.
"Actually, Dana the lesbian and I got along really well."
"Survivor" is taped in March and April, with 18 contestants trying to be the last one remaining to win $1 million, although Kent repeatedly reminds them the winner will get around $600,000 because of taxes.
"They began calling me 'Debbie Downer,'" Kent says, and imagine that.
Kent wears war paint and gives you the feeling that he does so ordinarily around the house. In one of the show's great surprises, he never tells host Jeff Probst to shut up, which would have made him an instant hero.
He grows a beard, rolls his eyes and shakes his head as he used to when listening to Manny Ramirez talk. And he tears up when he's allowed to read letters sent from his family.
"My wife didn't even know where I was; we had to agree to go away for seven weeks with no contact with anyone. Sleep- and food-deprived, it just got to me. I tear up now thinking about it."
Only one contestant recognizes him as a former baseball player, which goes to show you how many people have been watching the Dodgers.
His identity is kept secret, Kent fearful he will be voted off the island because others won't think he needs the $1 million.
Given what's going on now with Time Warner Cable, "Survivor" might consider putting a Laker on without fear of anyone knowing who it is. Mike Brown already seems to be playing the game.
Kent, meanwhile, appears committed to getting rid of tribe mate Jonathan Penner, telling the audience he gave Penner a four-finger handshake to seal their alliance.
"But a four-finger handshake isn't manly," he tells everyone watching, so it doesn't count.
Later Kent goes five fingers on Penner, and it's apparent he really likes him. That probably makes Penner his all-time favorite teammate, because Kent never talked to any players in his own clubhouse.
Now I've just seen "Flight," marveling at Denzel Washington's work, but I've got to say Kent is his equal in acting like a nice teammate to win everyone over.
"Come on. You know me better than most and that really is me," says Kent. "You know everything that happened out on that island is exactly like me and how I go about my day. You know it but don't want to admit it."
OK, so Kent is smart, gregarious and actually a sweetheart, but he doesn't want anyone to know it while playing baseball. He fears he will lose his competitive edge.
"Part of the reason I did the show was to pull up the shades and let people see what I'm really like. I was only antisocial in baseball because of having to deal with jerks like you."
Like I said, a sweetheart.
Kent lasts 22 days, spending much of the time with his shirt off, which is a mistake.
The daughter wants to know if he gave a thought to spending time in a gym before doing the show, but he says that, deprived of food, it allows him to live off his fat.
He always did have an answer for everything.
Ultimately, his torch is extinguished because he's outsmarted by Blair from "The Facts of Life," and I just love typing that sentence.
Blair, known as Lisa on the show, hails from the yellow tribe and Kent says, "She doesn't even know how to play the game."
She learns fast.
He's so stunned when given the heave-ho, somehow not swallowing the toothpick in his mouth, he gives everyone the Jeff Kent grin. That's when you know he's really upset.
Then he ends the show with a 23-second rant.
"You know what pisses me off is that 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've played in the biggest games in the world and the worst games in the world. But this just sucks."
Since the show is taped, he watches it for the first time like everyone else and says he's still bitter.
"I wanted to be the lone survivor," he says, "The Hunger Games" maybe better suited for Kent.
Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times