On Sunday, April 12th, Game of Thrones, the sprawling high-fantasy saga based on George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire," returns to HBO at 9/8 c. On top of brutality and nudity, Game of Thrones is known for a laundry list of characters that dwarfs any 40-man roster. In true Martin fashion, here is a long-winded look at what Game of Thrones character every MLB team would be.
New York Yankees - Cersei Lannister
The Lannisters have been the mightiest family for years, but after a series of unfortunate events the last few seasons, they find themselves on the wane of power. Now deprived of their patriarch (Tywin Steinbrenner), rule falls to Cersei Lannister, who will seek to hold power with uneasy alliances and a ragtag team of confidants.
Can she right the ship that has been blown off course? Can she re-animate the corpse of Alex Rodriguez? She still has an abundance of resources at her disposal, but a younger, fairer queen waits in the wings...
Boston Red Sox - Margaery Tyrell
The family that benefits the most from a Lannister demise is House Tyrell, and likewise, the Red Sox benefit most at the Yankees behest. Generally considered one of the richest houses behind the Yankees, the Red Sox have both wealth and youth on their side, made evident by their Queen-in-Waiting, the lady Margaery.
There have been some set backs (kings dying before alliances can be sealed and wars won), but Margaery is poised to lead her family to the top of game this season.
Baltimore Orioles - Petyr Baelish a.k.a. "Littlefinger"
The son of a minor merchant from Braavos, Lord Baelish had to claw his way out of the cellar and pull himself up into the elite lords in King's Landing. Not long ago, the Orioles were bottom-dwellers in the AL East, but by playing the long game with roster additions, youth, and possibly the craftiest manager around, the Orioles are ready to make their play for the Iron Throne.
Often overlooked by the bigger players in the capital, this team from lowly origins may just be the most dangerous player in the game.
Tampa Bay Rays - Jaime Lannister a.k.a. "The Kingslayer"
Jaime Lannister, prior to recent events, was the golden boy of Westeros; not just the best knight in the Seven Kingdoms, but also the killer of kings, toppling the Targaryen regime by plunging a sword into the Mad King's back. While he had enjoyed much success and acclaim in the past, the loss of his sword hand has maimed Jaime of all that made him the man he was, and now he seeks to reinvent himself in this new reality.
The Rays had an awe-inspiring stretch of success from 2008 - 2013, overthrowing the Yankees and Red Sox to claim the AL East, but a rough 2014 season has them looking for answers. Gone are Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon, not to mention stars Ben Zobrist and David Price.
Not long ago did the Rays compete with the most accomplished knights around; do they have it in them to do so again now that they've had their sword hand cut off?
Toronto Blue Jays - Jon Snow
Ah, our lovable bastard to the North. Jon Snow, being of natural birth, does not have the name or birthright that mean so much in Westerosi culture. However, years on the Wall and beyond have toughened him; now an able commander and toughened warrior, Jon understands where the true war lies, yet remains oblivious to the immense power he himself possesses.
The Blue Jays had been much an afterthought this last decade, operating with a team of misfits and castoffs. But now they appear to have the power and name recognition to compete, and are thrust into the middle of this ongoing war.
Chicago White Sox - Stannis Baratheon
Always seeing things in black and white, Stannis has lived in the shadow of his more-heralded brother (and King) Robert. While seemingly marginalized over the last few years, Stannis has slowly rebuilt his forces and has arrived at the Wall to reassert his claim on the Iron Throne.
While the team on the North Side has drawn much of the attention, the White Sox have slowly fortified their army with some up-and-coming young players and spending some of that Iron Bank coin on the likes of Dave Robertson, Jeff Samardzija, and Melky Cabrera.
The White Sox are deadset on not being a page in someone else's history book in 2015.
Cleveland Indians - Bronn
Don't sleep on this cutthroat; Ser Bronn of the Blackwater is secretly one of the best killers in the Seven Kingdoms, who raised himself up from a lowly sellsword to a knighthood with lands and titles.
The Indians have emerged as a potential contender in the AL Central behind the arm of Corey Kluber, and with a youth movement headed by Francisco Lindor, Trevor Bauer, and Danny Salazar, more lands and titles might be in store for the Tribe.
Detroit Tigers - Barristan Selmy a.k.a. "Barristan the Bold"
Once considered the greatest knight in all the Kingdoms, Barristan Selmy has maintained his prowess for battle and strategy even though his youth has escaped him.
Despite his advanced age, very few are eager to cross swords with the former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. The Tigers are an aged roster, but no less potent than much younger teams in its division.
While question marks surround the health of Justin Verlander and the loss of Max Scherzer, a powerful lineup lead by Miguel Cabrera still has the Tigers in the hunt for postseason victory.
Kansas City Royals - Podrick Payne
Pod, as Tyrion Lannister endearingly calls him, is not much to look at. Though still young, many often doubt the young squire, dubbing him "simple" and "a bit slow." However, despite his unimpressive appearance, Pod has successfully squired for the Hand of the King, for the Maid of Tarth, and has even killed a member of the Kingsguard in defense of his lord.
The Royals entered 2014 unassumingly, but after some hot stretches over the summer, found themselves in a pennant race and eventually the World Series. GM Dayton Moore receives many of the same criticisms that Podrick does, but he got them to final battle, even if he fell just short. All that remains to be seen if the brilliance shown last season was just a flash, or if they can continue to exceed expectations.
Minnesota Twins - Walder Frey
The Lord of the Crossing is now known best for his role in the Red Wedding, but aside from that, Walder Frey is known for his industrious procreation. Making his seat at the Twins (heh heh), the Late Lord Walder has been blessed with sons and grandsons who look to secure his family line long down the road. Tired of being spit on by nobler houses, Frey murdered Robb Stark and all his bannerman to earn his seat at the Lannister table.
Minnesota has spent much of the last few seasons in irrelevance, but they are on the verge of playing with the bigger houses. Armed with a farm system that is rivaled by few, the Twins have plenty of "sons and grandsons" that could secure the AL Central for generations to come, mayhaps.
Houston Astros - Bran Stark
The Broken Wolf, Bran Stark has been crippled since the very first episode, and has mostly been on the outskirts of the power struggles that define Westeros. Even having relocated far north of the Wall, Bran is still not quite ready to play his role in the oncoming war, but under the tutelage of the mysterious three-eyed raven, Bran seems to figure heavily into the end game.
The Astros spent many years floundering at the bottom of the NL Central, and realigning to the AL West has not led to much more major league success. However, the front office has been stocked with some of the best baseball minds, the farm has some high-ceiling talent, and progress is being made at the major league levels in the forms of Jose Altuve and George Springer.
The Astros may not be quite ready to walk, but soon they will fly....
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Oberyn Martell a.k.a. "The Red Viper"
Among the most famous and most feared in Westeros, Prince Oberyn Martell is a man of many skills and a veteran of many wars. He's forged chain links at the Citadel, mastered potions and poisons, and even fought for and founded a sellsword company.
Very few men are considered more dangerous than this son of Dorne. While, like Oberyn, they suffered an untimely end last year, the Angels are ready to seek justice against those that wronged them. Armed with the most dangerous man in baseball (Mike Trout), the Angels look to thrust their spear deep into their enemies.
The Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts.
Oakland Athletics - Tyrion Lannister a.k.a. The Imp
A sword needs a whetstone like a mind needs books, and no one has a better mind for the game than Tyrion of House Lannister. Often doubted because of his small stature, Tyrion has shown the wit and ingenuity to thrive despite being dwarfed in power (and stature) by his peers and enemies.
After killing his father and former lover, Tyrion looks to set course anew. Enough ravens have flown about the mind and philosophy of Billy Beane's Athletics, and last year they made their big play for the Throne, acquiring Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija. Unfortunately, they lost their trial by combat to the Royal family and have to regroup with a new strategy and new set of talent.
But only the foolish would doubt this team; even with a small payroll, Beane's Athletics still cast a very long shadow.
Seattle Mariners - Balon Greyjoy
Cold, wet, and harsh, the Iron Islands remain a society and culture unto itself, complete with its very own King.
A little over a decade ago, Balon Greyjoy led the Isles in rebellion against the Iron Throne, and experienced moderate success before being put down by the stronger armies of the mainland. With the kingdoms at war again, Greyjoy has once again declared himself King and plans to lead his Ironborn mariners against these other would-be kings.
It has been long since the Mariners have competed, but after the acquisition of Robinson Cano and the emergence of a quality young core, Seattle is ready to compete in the AL West. Led by their very own King Felix, the M's are going to show the rest of the league that what is dead may never die, but rises harder and stronger...
Texas Rangers - Robb Stark a.k.a. "The Young Wolf"
Not two years ago, very few would doubt Robb Stark's acumen politically or strategically. The Young Wolf started off his campaign with a series of impressive victories against the Lannister army despite having less gold and less men. But a series of unfortunate events (and one ill-timed betrothal) has Robb Stark a headless corpse somewhere in the Riverlands.
It was only a couple years past that the Rangers were a powerhouse in the AL West, making repeat World Series appearances behind a murderer's row of bats. It remains to be seen if they can rise from the ashes, but the North remembers, and the fans in Arlington have not lost their taste for winning baseball.
Atlanta Braves - Theon Greyjoy a.k.a. "Reek"
The once proud Theon Greyjoy has been humbled and mutilated beyond belief, and is nothing more than a shell of the man he was. Now Reek, he serves as Ramsay "don't call me Snow" Bolton's personal plaything, and is headed back to Winterfell, his childhood home and the castle whose sacking lead to the downfall of both Theon and the Northern Rebellion.
The Braves have been cutting off parts of their 2014 roster and selling them for whatever they can get. The Upton brothers, Craig Kimbrel, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis are just some of the members no longer attached to the Atlanta body. But no one who gets this broken stays broken, and much like redemption may be in Reek's future, the Braves are hoping to rebuild in a way that mirrors the dynasty of long ago.
Miami Marlins - Joffrey Baratheon
While Joffrey is not lacking for power, "loved" is not a term that is reserved for the incestuous bastard of twins Jaime and Cersei Lannister. One couldn't fill a small solar with people that actually enjoy this boy King.
The Marlins play in the Red Keep equivalent among stadiums in baseball, but similarly cannot aspire the passion and loyalty seen in other teams. While this would seem a weakness to some, this does not mean the team lacks strength. Giancarlo Stanton swings it with the best of them, and causes his own Widow's Wail among opposing fans.
They may not be likable, but that doesn't make them any less formidable.
New York Mets - Lysa Arryn
As many of the kingdoms descended into war following the death of King Robert, Lysa Arryn chose to keep her son and her armies out of the fray. But as more kings continued to fall, political pressure has the Eyrie on the verge of becoming a power player once again.
There has been much consternation amongst Met fans about how the owner is unwilling to spend and compete with the big boys, despite not lacking for wealth. But now it's time to see if the young knights of the Vale can take flight, or if it's time to push Wilpon out the Moon Door.
Philadelphia Phillies - Mace Tyrell
Oafish and bumbling are words for Mace Tyrell, Lord of Highgarden and Warden of the South.
While he has maintained his power and station from before Robert's Rebellion, much of his success over the last two decades can be attributed to the abilities of his bannerman and own children (and mother) moreso than any machination of his own doing.
Ruben Amaro Jr. suffers from the same reputation; not long ago the Phillies were a force to be reckoned with; built around a strong core of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Doc Halladay, Cliffe Lee, Cole Hamels and others, the Phillies were regularly among the best teams in baseball. Now, age, injury, and an apparent lack of savvy have left them a laughingstock in baseball circles.
Washington Nationals - Sansa Stark
Young, beautiful, and now in a position of power, Sansa Stark has risen from highborn pawn to one of the most fascinating players in the game. Once a naive girl, a childhood of death, brutality, and lack of agency has molded Sansa into a survivor, and now as Littlefinger's heir apparent, she means to finally write her own legacy.
The Nationals were just getting their start about a decade ago, and endured several years under the power of its NL East oppressors. Not so anymore, as the Nationals look to be a powerhouse for the foreseeable future. An enviable slate of top-flight arms backs an offense lead by youths Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper.
The former Expos may not be the heir to the North, but should maintain their hold as Warden of the East.
Chicago Cubs - Daenerys Targaryen a.k.a. "The Mother of Dragons"
It's been an age since the Targaryens have been part of the power struggle of Westeros, but a new hope is about to hatch. After being whored to a horselord and losing her husband and unborn son, the "Stormborn" has acquired an army of soldiers and sellswords, brought in some grizzled military advisers, freed scores of slaves, and mothered three dragons to birth and health.
The Cubs reached an absolute nadir in 2011, but have since played the long game, slowly acquiring assets in hopes of building a roster worthy of Targaryen kings of old. With an army of young prospects, some grizzled tacticians (Maddon, Hoyer, and Epstein), and three hatchlings of their own (Bryant, Soler, and Russell), the time is ripe to break the chains that have shackled Cubs fans for a century.
The question surrounding every season of Game of Thrones is if this is the one where Daenerys flies back to Westeros; similarly, the question in Chicago is if this the season for the Cubs' return to October, or if they are still a year away.
Cincinnati Reds - Brienne of Tarth
"Brienne the Beauty" doesn't get much respect from her peers; considered too brutish to be a woman of court, and doubted for her martial capabilities for no reason other than her gender, the Maid of Tarth is often marginalized and dismissed. But that hasn't stopped her from matching steel with, and besting, Jaime Lannister and The Hound.
The Reds enter 2015 in much the same boat; the Cardinals and Pirates are the division sweethearts, and the Cubs are the major story heading into this new season. But with the return of Joey Votto and some monster arms, the Reds look to keep the oath they pledged to be a player in the NL Central.
Milwaukee Brewers - Sandor Clegane a.k.a. "The Hound"
At the start of A Game of Thrones, only Jaime Lannister would rival the Hound in offensive ability. Initially presented as a brutish lapdog, the Hound revealed himself to be a far more complex killer whose loyalty to Joffrey was less sure than we'd thought, and whose code of honor was noble enough to act as a guardian angel towards Sansa and Arya Stark. Left for dead at the end of last season, it seems like his dog days are over.
The Brewers seem to have peaked with their roster as currently constructed, but there is still enough firepower down the lineup (Gomez, Braun, Lucroy, Ramirez) that the Brewers may get one more chance to say "F*ck the King."
Pittsburgh Pirates - Varys a.k.a. "The Spider"
Long before the fall of the Mad King, a mysterious sorcerer bought a young Varys and removed his manhood in order to perform a magical ritual. Instead of accepting defeat and dying, Varys instead aspired for vengeance, and in doing so became a master spy, a talent which would land him on the king's Small Council. Varys understood the value of the long game, and slowly bade his time before he could exact the revenge he so desired.
The Pirates suffered similarly in 1992; they lost Barry Bonds to the Giants and were effectively neutered for the next 20 years. Ever patient, GM Neal Huntington slowly started building a roster full of impactful young talent, which has recently bore fruit into one of the best teams in the Majors, led by MVP candidate Andrew McCutcheon.
It's been a long road to the top, and only time will tell whether the Pirates can make that last grasp to claim power in Westeros.
St. Louis Cardinals - Melisandre a.k.a. "The Red Woman"
When Thrones fan thinks "devil magic," Melisandre comes immediately to mind. Similarly, no baseball team evokes the phrase "devil magic" moreso than the team from St. Louis. Cloaked in red, neither can be unseated easily. Melisandre is seemingly immune to assassination attempts, having both the power and foresight to thwart all comers, while the Cardinals have made a habit of snatching victory from the claws of defeat on a level unparalleled by any other major league team.
Suffice to say, Melisandre wields more power than any other player in the game, and with the addition of Jason Heyward, the Cardinals look to ensure that the night is dark and full of terrors for all their opponents.
Arizona Diamondbacks - Ramsay Bolton
Ramsay Snow used to simply be known as the Bastard of Bolton; a crazy, psychopathic flayer who associated with mongrels and savages. Not until the rise of House Bolton did he see his value rise; now the legitimized heir of Roose Bolton, Ramsay lays in wait to be the next Warden of the North and Lord of Winterfell. However, this ascension to prominence has not led him to shed his old habits, most notably the ancient Bolton practice of flaying.
GM Dave Stewart of Arizona has been much in the news of late, for espousing his own "crazy, old school" thoughts in an environment that has long since awoken to the age of analytics. Can Stewart keep power as he's hacked off parts of his inherited roster, or will he fall in the presence of his more advanced enemies?
Colorado Rockies - Jorah Mormont
Tough, gritty, and savvy, Jorah Mormont of Bear Island has been integral to the education and rise of Daenerys Targaryen. Though he loved his queen, he was nothing more than a romantic afterthought to her, and after an early betrayal became known, he was exiled from her presence.
Much like Jorah, the Colorado Rockies enter the 2015 season as a question mark. While no one doubts their ability to hit the ball (if at full strength), their fealty to building a Coors-capable pitching staff remains questionable. Will 2015 be a year where they wander around aimlessly, or will they find a way to reinsert themselves into the race for the Iron Throne?
Los Angeles Dodgers - Gregor Clegane a.k.a. The Mountain
Last seen crushing Oberyn Martell before succumbing to poison, The Mountain that Rides remains the most monstrous warrior in either Westeros or Essos. Backed by Lannister gold, and with unparalleled reach and strength, few can even match Ser Gregor, much less defeat him.
The Dodgers have assembled their own monster; with All-Stars up and down their lineup, a foundation based on two of the game's best young stars (Puig and Kershaw), and some high end prospects, the Dodgers look to not only win now, but win for a long time. Don't be surprised when the Dodgers literally crush the heads of their opponents this season.
San Diego Padres - Arya Stark
Arya Stark, much like her sister, has witnessed horror after horror since her father took over as Hand of the King. She's seen (or been near) the murders of her parents and brother, her sister's direwolf, and even the poor butcher's boy. Worse, she's had very little control of her own destiny, being at the hands of Tywin Lannister, the Night's Watch, the Brotherhood, and most recently, The Hound. Now, Arya has broken free of her metaphorical chains, and looks to reinvent herself as a Faceless Man in Braavos.
The Padres have been a doormat for much of recent history, and when they have competed, it was on the backs of their pitching staff. The Friars have undergone their own transformation; with needle-like precision, AJ Preller has weaved together a formidable lineup built around new acquisitions Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton, and remodeled his pitching staff with new additions James Shields and Josh Johnson. 2015 may be the year the Padres start crossing some names off their hit list...
San Francisco Giants - Davos Seaworth a.k.a. "The Onion Knight"
Unassuming to look at, Ser Davos Seaworth is one of the few significant characters of low birth in Martin's story. However, his lack of nobility is by no means a lack of honor; only Ned Stark seems to even be in his stratosphere. A man of the sea, Davos earned his knighthood when he secretly sailed into Shipbreaker Bay to provide Storm's End with food to survive a prolonged seige. Four fewer fingerbones later, Ser Davos finds himself as Hand to his king, Stannis Baratheon.
The Giants, on paper, are not the sexiest team out there. Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner make for a solid core, but much of the reigning Champions roster is spare parts and castoffs from other teams. And while they occasionally get chastised for not being the most progressive team out there, they still find themselves in the October conversation regularly. Davos serves what he believes to be the One True King of Westeros, but for the nonce, the San Francisco Giants remain the King on the Iron Throne.
All photos courtesy of HBO