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A cheesemonger’s guide to the 2018 Royals lineup

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Can proper development and aging prevent stinkiness?

The Prince Of Wales Attends The Westmorland County Show
A Royal cheese tasting
Photo by Charlotte Graham-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Analytics allow us to turn baseball upside down in search of deep and subtle understanding, but sometimes fans just need to sit back and compare players to random stuff instead. This schtick began on Royals Review way back in 2009, with “If the Royals Were Nations”, followed by “The 25 Man Roster as Kitchen Tools” in 2010. Four years later, I tapped my background as a vegetable farmer to write the “2014 vegetarian guide to the Royals lineup”. Most of that team went on to reach two World Series and win one, for which I take all due credit. Now, another four years later, we’ve seen major turnover on the roster and it’s time to get to know our new team through the proven process of Analogyball.

As a cheese fiend in the Wallace and Gromit class (though not a cheese-eating surrender monkey), and a long-time manager of dairy goats with a variety of cheese-making experience, I can think of no better analogy for the current team than a product whose quality is highly dependent on its development and aging curve.

Starting lineup:

CF Jon Jay: Roquefort. You’ve probably heard of this historic name but aren’t quite sure what it is. You found it on the discount shelf and thought it would be worth a try. Your super-annoying neighbor had this once and thought it was great.

2B Whit Merrifield: Emmentaler. Savory but mild, it just looks like proper cheese. Commonly used in fondue, but can melt fans instead. Has some holes, but whether these are faults is hotly debated, as is its potential to improve or stink with age.

3B Mike Moustakas: Gruyère. I can’t improve on Wikipedia: “Sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming more assertive, earthy, and complex as it matures…Gruyère-style cheeses are very popular in Greece, where the local varieties are known as γραβιέρα (graviéra).”

C Salvador Perez: Gouda. Sharp but sweet and a bit nutty. Very reliable and ages well. A solid backstop to any cheese plate.

1B Lucas Duda: Blue cheese. Powerful, but an acquired taste. Useful in specific ways as long as you don’t keep it around too long. Perhaps one of those other cheeses you got a while back but aren’t sure about will turn out to be good after all.

RF Jorge Bonifacio: Airag (fermented horse’s milk). It can technically be used to make cheese, but like using boldenone, why would you want to when there are so many better alternatives?

RF Jorge Soler: Pepper Jack. Wait; you traded away that award-winning artisanal goat cheese because it had a little mold on it, and all you got back was a lump of pepper jack? Keep in mind, though, that a good pepper jack has some pop to it, is pretty versatile, and ages well. When it’s good, it’s distinct and fun to eat. That’s what you’re telling yourself, anyway, now that it’s in your fridge.

DH Cheslor Cuthbert: Kraft singles. Why is this even a thing?

LF Alex Gordon: Cheddar. If I could take one cheese at its prime to a desert island, it would be cheddar. If there is one cheese that epitomizes all that cheese should be, it’s good cheddar. Like many cheeses, it’s better mature than young, but can eventually suffer from over-aging. I don’t care, it’s my favorite cheese and it always will be. It’s the single most popular cheese in the world. Oh, and did you know it was served at Brian Duensing’s wedding?

SS Alcides Escobar – Venezuelan Beaver Cheese. Properly placed at the end of the lineup for comic relief when, apparently, all other options have been exhausted.

Alumni special mention:

ex-1B Eric Hosmer: Brie. A smooth pick; enjoy some while it’s good, but pass the rest off to someone else before it starts to stink with age. Don’t try to throw this out at home.

As for the rest of the roster, I rely on the ingenuity of the commentariat. Which coagulated milk protein are you anticipating, or dreading, on the mound this year?