Comparing MLB Teams to Game of Thrones Houses
Whether one is lost in the wild world of Westeros or perusing the latest MLB box scores, parallels can be drawn between the two distinctly different entertainment genres.
Oddly enough, there are eleven MLB teams who possess similar traits and demonstrate comparable actions to eleven of the Great Houses in HBO's Game of Thrones. Based off of George R.R. Martin's epic book series entitled A Song of Ice and Fire, the immensely popular television program depicts feuding houses in competition for power, dominance and the imperial Iron Throne.
The comparison between the show and professional baseball does not end at a fight to be the top dog, as certain characteristics are present in both the sport and the fantasy land.
Plus, is it a coincidence in how similar the Commissioner's Trophy and the Iron Throne appear? Think about it.
House Arryn: Chicago Cubs
House Arryn has ruled over the Vale of Arryn in east-central Westeros for over a thousand years. Similarly, the Chicago Cubs have existed for quite some time, playing as the Chicago White Stockings, Colts and Orphans from the mid-1870s until 1903 when the team adopted the Cubs name.
While the War of the Five Kings rages on to claim the Iron Throne, House Arryn continues to remain neutral, having little effect on the eventual triumphant outcome.
Well-documented is the Cubs' inability to win a World Series title, coming up empty every year since 1908, and only reaching the playoffs six times in the last 68 years.
Until this young Cubs team can mature into a viable talent, it will linger on at the bottom of the NL Central, as will House Arryn carry on as a neutral force with its juvenile leader, Robin Arryn.
House Baratheon: Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies, like House Baratheon, have lost their identity.
After five straight playoff appearances from 2007 to 2011, including one World Series championship in 2008 and one 102-win season in 2011, the Phillies missed the playoffs in 2012 and currently sit in third place in the NL East with a 31-35 record.
The identity crisis for House Baratheon occurred after the death of Robert Baratheon, who ruled the Iron Throne after taking it from House Targaryen during Robert's Rebellion. Three distinct factions tied to the Baratheon name split off: one led by Robert's younger brother, Stannis, another led by his youngest brother Renly and a final division led by his supposed son, Joffrey.
There is promise for both the Phillies and Stannis, the only true living Baratheon, but it will be an upward climb filled with many obstacles.
House Bolton: Detroit Tigers
After many years of blending in with the competition of the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers now own the division.
Led by one of the best starting pitchers in the game, Justin Verlander, and the best hitter in the game, Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers have advanced to the ALCS the last two seasons, reaching the World Series last year.
The ruthless House Bolton, led by the conniving Lord Bolton, has stumbled upon similar success, mainly by betraying House Stark and occupying part of their land at the stronghold, Dreadfort, in northeast Westeros.
House Frey: Houston Astros
Unrecognizable names, low expectations and a new league, the Houston Astros have scrapped much of what they know to completely start over.
Walder Frey, the head of House Frey, made the same decision by seeking revenge on former-ally Robb Stark, murdering him, his wife and much of his army and in turn gaining the respect of those in King's Landing.
The ugly play of the Astros in the field—a league-high 51 errors in 67 games—mirrors the crude nature of those in House Frey, who are not the most attractive bunch either.
House Greyjoy: Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals, who haven't been to the playoffs since their World Series victory in 1985, are a team waiting to explode onto the scene. They have hovered in fourth or fifth place of the AL Central in 11 of the last 13 seasons, but soon enough the hunger of players like Alex Gordon and Billy Butler will bring the Royals to the playoffs.
House Greyjoy will also hover.
The rest of Westeros is aware of their presence on the Iron Islands just off the western coast, but for the most part, the Greyjoys are ignored. That is, until they have a reason to take action.
Yara Greyjoy is the Alex Gordon of the Iron Islands, setting aboard her longship to rescue her brother, Theon at the conclusion of the third season.
House Lannister: New York Yankees
There is only one appropriate suitor for one of the richest, oldest and most powerful houses in the Game of Thrones series: the New York Yankees.
The Yankees have been known to be cunning and relentless in the pursuit of free agents (i.e. Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, etc.), outspending many other teams for the right to sign a superstar. Similarly, the Lannister's excess of wealth allows a Lannister to always pay his debts.
Each is hated by some but feared by all.
House Martell: Arizona Diamondbacks
Both hailing from a hot desert climate, the Arizona Diamondbacks are a baseball reflection of House Martell.
Ruling from a castle at Sunspear on the southeast tip of Westeros, House Martell has remained relatively silent during the War of the Five Kings, having chosen isolation rather than confrontation.
With just four winning seasons and two playoff appearances in the last 10 years, the Diamondbacks have settled into their own version of the peninsula of Dorne at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Will season four of Game of Thrones or the 2013 season bring action or success to the desert dwellers?
House Tyrell: Los Angeles Dodgers
House Tyrell has used the bond of marriage as a strategic move in order to solidify alliances and put itself in a position of power. The beautiful Margaery is the pawn, wedding Renly Baratheon until his untimely death and currently betrothed to King Joffrey at King's Landing.
After the blockbuster trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the lucrative signing of Zack Greinke (six years/$147 million), the L.A.-based team held true to its promise to spend big this past offseason.
Owning the largest payroll in baseball ($220 million) is a risk with high expectations, as is the Tyrell's alliance with the hotheaded Joffrey Baratheon.
Two things are for sure: a fifth-place position is not where the Dodgers intended to lie and a king can't reign forever.
House Stark: Los Angeles Angels
Six playoff appearances in eight years from 2002 to 2009, which included a World Series title in 2002 and five first-place finishes in the division, classified the Los Angeles Angels as the kings of the AL West.
Formerly known as Kings of the North and the Lords of Winterfell, those of House Stark ruled over the vast northern region of Westeros from their seat at Winterfell. As of late, however, the tides have turned after the execution of Lord Eddard Stark, the recent murder of Robb Stark, his wife and most of his northern army and the ongoing separation of the family.
The Angels have come upon difficult times as well, missing the playoffs in each of the past three seasons. The five-year, $125 million contract Josh Hamilton signed this past offseason was to be the final strategic move to lead the Angels back to the playoffs.
Twelve games out of first place and Hamilton hitting just .217 with 21 RBI is not what the one-time AL West powerhouse had in mind. Just like the Stark's, it may be a long way back to the top.
House Targaryen: Oakland Athletics
The Swingin' A's—as they were known during the early- to mid-1970s—were the most dominant force in baseball when they won three straight World Series championships from 1972 to 1974. They returned to three straight World Series from 1988 to 1990, winning one in 1989.
It's been a fall from grace for the Oakland Athletics, however, owning a 12-23 playoff record in seven appearances over the past 22 years.
House Targaryen was once the ruling royal family after it invaded Westeros on the back of three dragons, unifying the continent and its seven kingdoms under one leader. Their reign wouldn't last forever as a rebellion led Robert Baratheon would hand the Iron Throne over to House Baratheon, forcing the surviving Targaryen's into exile.
The Athletics and the Targaryen's draw parallels in that they are both gaining power and are on the brink of taking what used to be theirs. The A's won 94 games in 2012 and currently own the best record in the American League, while Daenerys Targaryen has assembled a massive and loyal army to complement her maturing dragons.
House Tully: Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins fire sale that sent big name players like Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle to the Toronto Blue Jays angered star of the future Giancarlo Stanton and caused disturbance in its fan base.
The Marlins have essentially conceded the 2013 season, and probably the near future, as the team starts from scratch and rebuilds.
House Tully is facing similar disarray: Lord Hoster Tully has passed away, his daughter Catelyn Stark was murdered during the Red Wedding, his son and heir Edmure Tully is being held captive by Lord Walder Frey and his brother Brynden Tully is on the run.
Both the Marlins and the Tully's have come on dark times, but hopefully there is a bright future for each.