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February 11, 2011

Talkin' Baseball with Gordon Holmes

Anyone who knows me (or has followed this site for any period of time) knows that I am a fan of reality television.

Wednesday...the best of best returns.

Now entering its 22nd season, "Survivor" cast members have seen and done just about everything.  This past December, five of the show's finest were heralded as members of the inaugural Hall of Fame class.  The Survivor Hall of Fame's creator, Gordon Holmes, is, incidentally, also a huge baseball fan...I recently had the chance to talk with him.

HOVG: Before we get to your beloved St. Louis Cardinals, I’ve gotta know…what possessed you to come up with the idea for the Survivor Hall of Fame?

HOLMES: Well, “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and I had done a point/counterpoint video series before “Survivor: Gabon.” One of the questions (which was stolen from ESPN’s Bill Simmons) was “Who would you put on your Mount Rushmore of ‘Survivor’?” He went with Richard Hatch, Rupert Boneham, Tina Wesson and Tom Westman. I went with Richard Hatch, Rob Cesternino, Jon “Jonny Fairplay” Dalton and Sue Hawk. A few years later I was interviewing Fairplay at the “Survivor” ten-year reunion and he brought it up. As we were debating our picks, other people started listening in and giving their two cents. It was then that I decided that this was an idea whose time had come.

HOVG: How did the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class get selected?

HOLMES: I wanted to build some checks and balances into the selection process. I knew a strict fan vote would leave us open to “Vote for Wanda” campaigns (no offense, Wanda) and a veterans committee vote would be as infuriating as the Baseball Hall of Fame process. So, 50% of the “Survivor” Hall of Fame vote comes from the fans and the other 50% comes from a selection committee made up of “Survivor” crew such as Jeff Probst and (the show's challenge producer) John Kirhoffer and “Survivor” journalists like EW’s Dalton Ross and E!’s Drusilla Moorhouse.

HOVG: Ultimately, the five that were chosen as the show’s best were its first millionaire Richard Hatch, fellow winner Parvati Shallow, two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine and the stars of this season’s upcoming “Survivor: Redemption Island” Russell Hantz and “Boston” Rob Mariano. Who were your five?

HOLMES: I stayed pretty close to my original Mount Rushmore picks. My thought process was to go with people who had changed the way the game is played. I went with Richard Hatch who was the brains behind the original final four voting alliance strategy. I had Rob Cesternino (even though he’s a Mets fan) for the way he popularized the whittling down of alliances as you get deeper into the game. I picked Jonny Fairplay for making the game more than something that took place on location. I think anyone who lies about their occupation owes Fairplay a royalty. Then I went with the two players whose success couldn’t be denied with Sandra Diaz-Twine and Parvati Shallow.

HOVG: There have been a number of athletes that have appeared on “Survivor”…how do you think a baseball player would fare?

HOLMES: I can see where being a baseball player would lend itself to the game. I think anyone who goes through a 162-game regular season must have some kind of stamina. Baseball is at the same time a team sport and an individual sport, just like “Survivor.”

HOVG: Is there anyone in particular you would like to see out there, forced to interact with fellow castaways for 39 days?

HOLMES: If I had to go with the player I think would do well on “Survivor,” I’d go with Yadier Molina. He’s a catcher, so he’s used to being miserable. He’s low-key, he’s not a leader, but he is a solid guy. The ladies like him. He’s kind of like “Survivor: Tocantins” winner J.T. Thomas.  However, if I was going for players based on entertainment value, sign me up for the Lenny Dykstra/Darren Daulton alliance. Those two are a producer’s dream.

HOVG: I mentioned Hatch earlier and I’ve gotta ask…if you could play "Survivor" and have a Rich Hatch-like alliance with any three of your beloved Cardinals (past or present), who would they be?

HOLMES: Alright, I’m not going to pick my three based on who I’d want to hang out with. (For the record, that’d be Ozzie Smith, Adam Wainwright, and Jose Oquendo). I’m going with the alliance that is going to put a million dollar check in my pocket. I’m going to start off with Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa. While I’m making good with the rest of the tribe, he’ll be off going over every possible jury combination. When he would interact with the tribe, they’d hate him because he wouldn’t take off his sunglasses under any circumstances. Next up, I’m going with former Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen. He and LaRussa would always be at each others’ throats. This would allow me to just hang back and figure out which of the two to team with when we got to the end. The fourth person would be Cardinals mascot Fredbird. I friggin’ hate Fredbird. I’d vote his red-feathered ass out with glee. Best of all, he couldn’t talk crap about me at Ponderosa and poison the jury against me.

HOVG: Lastly, we’re days away from pitcher and catchers reporting and the Cardinals have yet to offer a contract extension to slugger Albert Pujols. What do you figure will be filled with more drama…the negotiations with the three-time MVP or “Survivor: Redemption Island”?

HOLMES: Ooof…I sure hope it’s “Redemption Island”.  I’m in the camp that says Albert has every right to pursue a monster contract. During his time in St. Louis he’s been a perfect citizen, he’s never given any less than 100%, and he’s put up with Brendan Ryan always asking for his autograph.  So, if the Cards can afford him, keep him. If they can’t, let him go. But, I’d like it to be as drama free as possible. The man played for the Cards at a discount for years. I think he’s earned the right to leave with his legend intact.  Unless he goes to the Cubs, then screw him.

HOVG: So, what can we expect next from the Survivor Hall of Fame...what are your plans?

HOLMES: For as ridiculous as the idea of a reality show hall of fame is, I’ve tried to take it very seriously. So, a lot of thought has gone into this. Every November will be “Survivor” Hall of Fame election season. We started off with a class of five, I think from here on out we’ll whittle that down to two or three. I’d hate for it to turn into something like the WWE Hall of Fame where they elect huge classes and lesser talents like Koko B. Ware sneak in.  Right now we’re working on putting together a more permanent placement on XFINITY TV rather than the blog posts it was on earlier.  I’ve been bouncing around the idea of having a spring election that would be for individual seasons or memorable inanimate objects (Bob Crowley’s fake idols get my vote). Some people have suggested voting for superlatives like “Best Looking” or “Best at Challenges” but there’s no “Best Looking Player” plaque for Willie McGee in Cooperstown, so I don’t think those are the best fit.

You can follow Gordon Holmes and get his thoughts on the the latest season of "Survivor" over at  He can also be found on Twitter or at his personal blog.

The Survivor Hall of Fame can be found on Twitter as well.  Feel free to check out The Hall's interview with former "Survivor" All-Star Rob Cesternino HERE and find out who Jonny Fairplay thinks is baseball's biggest heel HERE.

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