Survivor Game Changers players should think baseball strategy in order to win

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

With only nine castaways remaining on Survivor Game Changers, the time to make a big move is now. One example of how to approach the game? Think baseball.

We’ve reached a point in Survivor Game Changers where we know what each player’s guiding philosophy is. I’ve come to recognize the similarities in approach between the contestants on Survivor and major league baseball hitters.

(And no, I don’t just mean Jeff Kent.)

When it comes to hitters, there is a spectrum between all-or-nothing power and the less flashy ability to consistently avoid making costly outs. Successful baseball teams feature a combination of both styles of play among their players. And that’s what goes into a successful cast on Survivor.

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You can see both ends of the spectrum at work in the Survivor Game Changers post-merge game.

Survivor Game Changers episode 11
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

The home run hitters

As soon as the Survivor Game Changers tribes came together, Zeke did his best Hank Aaron impression. He tried to knock the ball out of the park in every round of voting. It’s a bold play, but even the most powerful sluggers — baseball’s true game changers — come up empty. A lot. Look at the top home run hitters any given season; they’re often among the league leaders in strikeouts, too.

Zeke flipping on Andrea and Cirie immediately after the merge was a bad decision. As Sarah said to Cirie, “Zeke, you’re only getting to [final] six, buddy.” Whether Zeke sensed his diminished standing within the alliance, it necessitated adjustments his approach. Could he have survived longer by playing possum? Possibly, but with the sentiments of other tribe members shifting against him, he needed a home run to actually have a shot at winning Survivor Game Changers.

The contact specialists

On the other end of the spectrum is Aubry. You don’t need edgic to tell you that she hasn’t made much of a mark on this season. She’s like the batter that bloops a single into the outfield: it helps them survive a little bit longer, but no one remembers the small plays. Aubry has the makings of someone doomed to come fifth, booted in an episode that has very little to say about the end of her game, except that it was simply time. I hope Ponderosa has coleslaw.

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Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

The MVP candidates

At the end of the baseball season, the MVP — most valuable player — is named. He’s usually the batter that manages to balance both consistency and power at the highest level. The MVP is baseball’s Sole Survivor.

Like an MVP campaign, the Sole Survivor relies on a combination of three things: a) the ability to avoid getting out, even if it means lying low; b) the ability to make a drastic, game-changing play; and c) copious amounts of good luck.

To my eye, there are three castaways left in Survivor Game Changers with those qualities. The first two are Cirie and Sarah, the show’s narrators over the past four hours of airtime. When Cirie says that Zeke is the “smartest player in the game,” she’s selling herself a little short.

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And Sarah managed to flip on her alliance to knock out Ozzy, then returned to the safe majority of her original alliance without raising any of the feelings of betrayal that Zeke elicited. Ability to make big plays? Check. Ability to fly under the radar? Check. Luck? We’ll see.

The third is Tai, owner of two Hidden Immunity Idols. He’s not seen as a physical threat, but with such an early run on physical competitors in the pre-merge game, those players are few and far between. Most importantly, Tai’s Idols give him the ammo to flip the game’s power structure if played correctly.

We’re getting to the point where some Survivor Game Changers players need to start swinging for the fences, even if that means exposing themselves to potential early exits. Andrea, Brad, Michaela, Sierra and Troyzan have enjoyed some narrative arcs, but each seems to lack a certain cache — with the players still in the game, with a potential jury, or with editors.

Next: Survivor Winners: Ranking All 33 Sole Survivors By Season

Like Zeke, the time may be now for some middle-of-the-road players to take their shot. Ultimately, is it better to come sixth and be forgotten or make the high-risk, high-reward play that has the potential to immortalize you within the game?