The Many Flavors of Fantasy Baseball

Southerners such as Braves fans are quite familiar with the sight of grits at the breakfast table. Grits are made from hominy that has been dried and ground and then cooked in water or milk. The end result is a warm dish with little flavor, featuring a consistency somewhere between cream of wheat and oatmeal.

So who the Hell cares? Nobody! But the reason I’m talking about grits is that the way we eat them can be a metaphor for many facets of life – even fantasy baseball.

Throughout history, people have discovered a multitude of ways to flavor the almost flavorless serving of grits. I like mine with butter, salt, and pepper. I’ve seen people eat grits with syrup, honey, sugar, and even hot sauce. The most notable way to send a grit down the hatch is to mix in cheese and make cheese grits. The addition of cheese yielded a whole new experience due to the variety of cheeses in the world. What I’m saying is that different people take the same thing and do different stuff to it so that it suits their different tastes.

Different tastes are what make fantasy ball so great. Look around your league at all the different rosters and you’ll see it every time.

There’s always at least one team that’s chock full of big name players. Many of them are “big name” because they play on winning teams or because they used to be stars in their prime. This is the guy who has Jeter and Ortiz and Soriano and Chipper Jones. This is the guy who drafted Joe Mauer with the first pick. He’s the guy who loves Ichiro. If you own Ichiro, and you know who your “big name” league mate is, trade him Ichiro now. He will give up his best player. Bet.

Big Name guy eats cheese grits; he’s heard of them and knows that people like them, so how can they let him down?

There’s always that guy who just loves closers. I mean LOVES em. This guy will trade you Hanley Ramirez if you give him Jonathan Broxton. But not because he needs Broxton – this is the same guy who already has Rivera, Paplebon, and about three other closers. The best part about closer guy is that he won’t trade you a closer until his team really starts to tank. By then, he’s already toast and you’ve already said, “eh, a save is only one category anyway.”

Closer Guy eats syrup grits and then looks at the rest of us because we’re watching him with furrowed brows and he goes, “what? You guys don’t like syrup?” and we say, “yeah, but not that much.”

What about that sleeper king? This is that guy who in the 9th round takes everyone you were hoping to get in the 15th round. Every owner has their “this is the year” favorites, but the sleeper king will fill a roster with them. Sleeper king is also the guy who will try to trade you every 22 year old hot prospect he can so that he can get whoever he wants off your team. Don’t get mad when you get these offers – sleeper king really thinks he has a hot commodity on his hands, but he can’t wait all year on the kid because he filled his whole damn team with sleepers. I can label myself sleeper king this year, my back still hurts from all the reaching I did on draft day.

Sleeper King eats grits with hot sauce; it goes against conventional wisdom and generates comments. He’s then very quick to point out how smart he is when someone tries them and likes them.

There’s always a guy who loves home runs. This guy threw a fit when Jack Cust got cut. This guy threw a fit when his league’s sleeper king took Ian Stewart two picks before him. Homer guy checks his roster every evening and lets out those high pitched “whooo” sounds when he sees that his team just mashed eight more homers in a day. If you own Nelson Cruz right now, this guys is bugging the ever-livin’ shit outta you with trade offers. Homer guy sometimes manifests himself as a hybrid Homer-Closer guy. You know it’s true.

Homer Guy eats his grits with sugar; it’s oh-so-sweet right now, but it’s gonna kill you eventually. Just like your team Batting average and SB totals.

Some guys load up on aces. These owners took Lincecum and Halladay with their first two picks. They then sprinkled in a little Wainwright and Josh Johnson, maybe some Santana or a splash of Verlander. Ace guy will usually own some combination of Burnett, De La Rosa, Kershaw, and Sanchez. This dude will do anything for strikeouts. ANYTHING. Ace guy won’t trade you one of his pitchers until he hears that they got injured. He then rushes to his computer and inundates you with offers, hoping to reel you in before you’re privy to the injury news. If these guys weren’t so busy with fantasy, I think they would be lawyers.

Ace Guy eats his grits with honey; it’s sweet and smooth. It’s healthier than sugar. It’s exotic… And no, you can’t have my damn honey!

Many of us are one of these owners, whether we know it or not. No one strives to limit their team to just homers or saves or cost effectiveness; we just want to win. It’s our differing tastes that get us there, in one way or another. We’ve all had good teams and bad teams. We’ve all eaten things we loved and things that made us gag.

I eat my grits with butter, salt, and pepper. Not too much of any ingredient, but just enough to give it flavor. Whether you’ve eaten grits before or not – whether you hate grits or love them, you have to admit that all we want on our team is the right mix of additives that make a winning flavor.