Game of Thrones Characters as MLB Franchises
Two events of great import occur next week: 1) season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones premieres Sunday night, and 2) the 2012 Major League Baseball season begins on Wednesday when the defending World Series champion Cardinals and newly anointed Miami Marlins take to the diamond.
And since I’m one of those nerdy bloggers who loves comparing and contrasting two seemingly different pop culture entities, I thought it appropriate to juxtapose characters from Game of Thrones to MLB franchises. I promise it will all make sense, unless you’ve never seen the series, in which case you’re better off moving to Dandyland because you’re not a real man (or woman).
Enough chit-chat. Here it goes.
- Catelyn Stark – Baltimore Orioles
Catelyn Stark is the widowed matriarch of the North. Highly respected and fiercely protective of her family, she vows to avenge her husband's death. However, the Lannister and Baratheon families are powerful and daunting enemies bent on crushing her armies where they stand. The Orioles are a franchise steeped in history who have fallen on harden times in recent years. Competing against two of the richest and strongest teams in the game makes them the ultimate underdog.
- Jaime Lannister – Boston Red Sox
Disparagingly nicknamed the "Kingslayer," Jaime Lannister has lived in the shadow of his father since he was born. A knight skilled in art of combat, he possesses his father's viciousness, but lacks his tact and ambition. The opportunity to make a name for himself is ripe for the picking if he chooses to grab it. For decades, the Red Sox knelt at the feet of the Yankees as their hated rival dominated baseball. The Yankees spent more, won more and achieved royalty rarely reached. Then in 2004, the Red Sox finally usurped the crown and earned the respect they long sought.
- Tywin Lannister – New York Yankees
The patriarch of the wealthiest family in the Seven Kingdoms, the elder Lannister is the most experienced and best-equipped player in the Game of Thrones with an endless supply of cash and a massive army are at his disposal. His motivations are guided by advancing the Lannister name and ensuring they never lose their elite standing. The Yankees have ruled the diamond for a century, winning a league-best 27 world championships. They are valued at close to $2 billion and offer an attractive destination for pricey free agents. Loathed for their deep pockets and string of success, the Yankees are always a threat in the game of baseball.
- Arya Stark – Tampa Bay Rays
Arya is the Stark's youngest daughter. Spunky, sharp-tongued and bold, she is the ultimate tomboy. More eager to swing a sword than sew a dress, Arya wants nothing more than to be a soldier just like her father and older brothers. Despite her youth, she has proven capable of surviving and competing in a man's world. The Rays are baseball's youngest team. For the first ten years of their existence they weren't taken seriously, losing at least 90 games in every season. Undeterred by the laughing-stock label, the Rays have transformed into a legit contender, winning the rough and tumble AL East twice and advancing to the 2008 World Series.
- Bran Stark – Toronto Blue Jays
Bran (short for Brandon) Stark is Catelyn and Eddard's middle son. Once a vibrant, energetic lad adept at climbing, Bran is rendered a cripple after being pushed from an open window by Jaime Lannister. Without the use of his legs, his dreams of becoming a warrior are dashed. The Blue Jays were once a rising franchise, capturing back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. They have since fallen into obscurity, crippled by a declining fanbase and unable to financially challenge the cash rich Yankees and Red Sox.
- Robb Stark – Chicago White Sox
The heir apparent to the head of the Stark clan and would-be King of the North, Robb Stark has ascended quickly both on and off the battlefield. He shares his father's skill with a sword and staunch honor code, but possesses the guile that Ned sorely needed. The Stark banner appears to be in good hands with Robb at the helm. The White Sox own something their older crosstown rivals don't: a world championship in the post WWII era. While neither Chicago franchise has come close to achieving the success of the Yankees or Cardinals, the Pale Hose have at least displayed the ability to compete in baseball's modern-day landscape.
- Benjen Stark – Cleveland Indians
First Ranger of the Night's Watch, Benjen Stark went north of the Wall and disappeared. Was he killed by White Walkers, or is he alive waiting to be found by his sworn brothers? Season 2 should provide an answer. After a lengthy run of success during the '90s, the Indians have all but disappeared from the American League Pennant picture. Will they return to prominence in the AL Central or continue to be a non-factor? Time will tell.
- Bronn – Detroit Tigers
Bronn is an old-school swordsman. He lacks the Lannister's panache and the Stark's honor, but makes up for it with a brash, unrelenting and vicious style of combat that leaves a trail of eviscerated bodies in its wake. Bronn doesn't need pub or style points; he's all about the win. The Tigers aren't considered one of the game's elite franchises, but that hasn't stopped them from fighting tooth and nail to seize glory. They reside in a much-maligned city and play in an era where more polished teams are celebrated.
- Joffrey – Kansas City Royals
Joffrey is a vile little douche who has no rightful claim to the Iron Throne. Calling him a King is an insult to all things regal. Kansas City won a World Series in 1985 and haven't sniffed the playoffs since. Calling them "Royals" is a disgrace to all things royalty.
- Ros – Minnesota Twins
Working girl Ros has beautiful "twins." The Twins represent the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Hey, they all can't be winners. (Yeah, Jaime and Cersei would've fit here, but I went another direction.)
- Lord Varys – LA Angels of Anaheim
Varys is a vital member of the King's Small Council. He is a master of disguise, known by many names and always seems to be smack dab in the middle of King's Landing drama. The Angels are one the league's wealthiest teams and extremely influential in free agency. They have worn a variety of uniforms, gone by many names and always seem to be in the thick of the AL West race.
- Khal Drogo – Texas Rangers
As chief of the Dothraki, Drogo was an intimidating warrior famous for never being defeated in battle. A powerful mountain of a man, he hoped to compile a massive army and cross the Narrow Sea to invade Westeros. Unfortunately, his untimely death prevented him from doing so. The Rangers have built a roster constructed of imposing home run hitters. On the strength of this potent attack, they have advanced to the last two World Series. Unfortunately, they came up short both times.
- Tyrion Lannister – Oakland Athletics
The black sheep of the Lannister clan, Tyrion, aka The Imp, has learned to rise above his shortcomings by being quick-witted, crafty and charismatic. In a world dominated by brawn and steel, Tyrion utilizes smarts and resourcefulness to compete in the dangerous Game of Thrones. The A's have one of the smallest payrolls in baseball. Unable to lure big-ticket free agents, they have remained competitive using a clever numbers-based system to manufacture runs and wins. They are short on talent, but long on determination.
- Theon Greyjoy – Seattle Mariners
As a ward to Eddard Stark, Theon is viewed as a lowly servant by his peers, not the true heir apparent to the Iron Islands crown. Desperate for respect and his own identity, he is an exceptional archer and seaman. The Mariners are one of the American League's regular bottom feeders. A brief period of success between 1995 and 2001 is a distant memory. Until they breakthrough and earn that elusive first World Series appearance, the Mariners will continue to be looked down upon.
- Syrio – Atlanta Braves
Syrio Forel is a master fencer known as a bravo. His fate at the end of Season 1 was ambiguous, although it's safe to assume he's dead. The Braves are a consistent winner commonly referred to as the "Bravos." Their long-term fate after manager Bobby Cox's exit has yet to be determined.
- Daenerys Targaryen – Miami Marlins
Dany's goal is to resurrect the Targaryen name and reclaim the throne once occupied by her murdered father, Aerys II. A meek, naive child emerged from the flames of the Season 1 finale armed with confidence and three baby dragons. Born anew, she vows to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. The Marlins boast a pair of world championships in their past, but after a near decade of not reaching the playoffs, they've undergone a complete makeover. Leaving behind their Florida moniker, the born again Miami Marlins look to reclaim their spot among baseball's elite.
- Viserys Targaryen – New York Mets
Viserys suffered from delusions of grandeur and a skewed ambition. Impatient and petulant, he talked the talk but never came close to walking the walk. Needless to say, his attempts to "lead" were laughable and ultimately dismissed as folly. The crown he ended up getting was well-deserved. The Mets have a rich history and money to burn, but misguided roster moves and dreadful fundamentals have turned them into a punchline in recent years. Wanting to win and having the means to do so doesn't equate to much if you don't know what the hell you're doing.
- The White Walkers – Philadelphia Phillies
Asleep for thousands of years, the White Walkers have awakened to lay waste to all who stand in their path. After over two decades (save for 1993) of floundering, the Fightin' Phils climbed from the National League crypt in 2007 and have been swinging for the fences ever since.
- Renly Baratheon – Washington Nationals
Renly is young, handsome and ambitious. With big bro Robert six feet under, his desire to seize the Iron Throne has grown. Whether or not he has the forces to defeat his competitors remains to be seen, but he is positioning himself to give it a shot. The Nationals are hoping to parlay a decent 2011 season into a run at the postseason in 2012. With young studs Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper leading the charge, Washington is angling to become a viable threat in the NL East.
- Ned Stark – Chicago Cubs
Poor dumb Ned. For all his best efforts to expose the Lannister's deceptions, his penchant to reveal his hand too soon and trust the wrong people cost him his head and ignited a war. It was hard not to root for the guy, but watching him fu*k up at every turn was exhausting. He played a game he had no business playing and lost badly. The poor Cubbies have become the poster children for loveable losers. No matter how hard they try or how much money they spend, they just can't get it right. They last tasted the sweet nectar of championship victory in 1908. Calling them hopeless would be kind.
- Jeor Mormont – Cincinnati Reds
The grizzled Commander of the Night's Watch has seen much in his life. Although highly respected by the men who serve under him, Jeor's decision to abandon his Lordship on Bear Island and "take the black" has rendered him a forgotten man. The Reds are one the game's storied franchises dating back to 1882. But since winning it all in 1990, the team has become lost in the shuffle with only two playoff appearances. The glory days of the Big Red Machine are a fading memory.
- Jorah Mormont – Houston Astros
Jeor's son Jorah is a battle-tested knight exiled from Westeros for trading poachers to slavers. Branded with the stigma of betrayal, Jorah fled across the Narrow Sea to escape Ned Stark's sword. He feeds information to Lord Varys in hopes of gaining a full pardon for his crimes, but later accepts his lot and pledges allegiance to Daenerys. The Astros have long been outcasts in the National League. Despite a handful of flirtations with success, Houston has never gained footing on the top-tier. They are a solid, if not spectacular franchise.
- Robert Baratheon – Milwaukee Brewers
Robert was a hard-drinking, hard-living King who never saw a prostitute he didn't like. He didn't seem suited to wear a crown though. Like his pal Ned, he was a soldier first and foremost. The Brewers are a blue-collar team in a blue-collar town. The contender hat has failed to fit snugly during the last 40 years, but one can't help but admire their grit.
- Sansa Stark – Pittsburgh Pirates
The best word to describe Sansa in Season 1: pathetic. The best word to describe the Pirates the last 20 years: pathetic. It's a match made in wherever awfulness calls home.
- Cersei Lannister – St. Louis Cardinals
Don't hate the playa, hate the game. Cersei may be a spiteful bitch, but it's hard not to admire how easily she played Ned. With a deceased husband and her dirty little secret revealed, she had little choice but to maneuver her douchebag son onto the Iron Throne. Remember, she knew full well executing Ned was a mistake, but King Dickhead ignored her advice and whacked him anyway. The Cardinals aren't really a hated franchise, nor should they be. Unlike the Yankees, they have managed to kick ass sans an obese checkbook. Be jealous of their enormous success if you must. Just don't blame them for the ills that plague baseball.
- Lord Baelish – Arizona Diamondbacks
Driven by a thirst to crush the Alpha Males who wronged him his whole life, Baelish unleashed a mastermind plot to stab Ned square in the back. He is a devious snake, coiled and ready to strike at a moment's notice. Underestimating his influence and intelligence is not recommended. The D-Backs might be an expansion team, but they are quite well-versed in how the game is played, having won the 2001 World Series and qualified for the playoffs five times in 14 seasons. Not bad for a "little" franchise in the desert.
- Jon Snow – Colorado Rockies
Ned's bastard son has long searched to find his place in the world. Unaware of his real mother's identity and rejected by Catelyn, Jon finds a home in the remote, icy confines of the Night's Watch. Like most other recruits he isn't taken seriously on arrival, but his strong fighting skills soon separate him from the pack. Like most expansion franchises, the Rockies are still chasing respect. A World Series berth in 2007 helped bolster their image, but until they capture the prize, the second-class citizen reputation will stick.
- Maester Pycelle – Los Angeles Dodgers
Old man Pycelle may appear frail and forgetful, but it's all an act. He is keenly aware of the goings-on at King's Landing and maneuvers in favor of the Lannisters more often than not. His elderly visage is the perfect cover for him to plot and scheme unnoticed. It's been a while since the Dodgers ruled baseball, but they still remain one of the game's elite organizations even amid the recent ownership fiasco. They just went for a record $2 billion at sale thus solidifying their spot as one of sport's most valued commodities.
- Maester Luwin – San Diego Padres
Chief adviser, doctor and educator to the Stark family, Luwin is wise, loyal and subdued. His importance to the House cannot be measured, although he operates mostly in the background, away from the central action. The Padres are one of those teams that never stand out, even when winning. They're hardly memorable, but not altogether forgettable either. They just kinda... are.
- Sandor and Gregor – San Francisco Giants
The "Hound" and the "Mountain" are burly brothers known for their intense, feared fighting skills. The San Francisco Giants are known for employing two of baseball's most intimidating and feared power hitters in Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.