We’re at the midway point. Chaos rules in all parts of the land. Teams jockey for positions, clashing with regularity. The balance of power sways between the mighty, whilst the dispossessed plot their next moves. Rumbles are heard of a mighty battle yet to come, as aging legends rise against the hungry youths of the world. Meanwhile, an aged man sits atop his perch, overseeing all with a hand that smites as often as it rewards.
Welcome to Major League Baseball.
I’ve been open here and elsewhere about recently re-reading the entire Song of Ice and Fire book series as my summer project. Consequently, I’m feeling a little Game of Thrones-centric these days. At the same time, the baseball season has passed its midway point, All-Stars have been selected, and we know… well, relatively little at this point beyond the facts that: the A’s are good, the Cubs are bad, Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet, and Mike Trout might be from another world.
Usually, I disdain power rankings. The chance to do one with a Game of Thrones theme, however, struck me as all too much fun. What follows is simple: I pair each team with a corresponding character from the book/TV series, based on said team’s performance to date, their expectations going into the season, and what their future looks like. Any disagreements can be argued out in the comments section.
(Related: All images courtesy of Becky Katona Bean, aka “The Stitcher”)
1. Oakland Athletics – Daenerys Targaryen
The A’s play in a rather shitty stadium; Dany currently reigns over the shitty city of Meereen. The A’s are young, powerful, and ambitious. Ditto for Dany. The A’s are trying to break through in the postseason, having accomplished very little during the Reign of Beane, much as Dany is trying to rise out of poverty to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Whether that will happen is anybody’s guess. Plus, she’s got dragons, and we know that Yoenis Cespedes is a flame thrower himself.
2. Los Angeles Angels – Tyrion Lannister
One of the most fun characters within Game of Thrones, he might not be the prettiest or most handsome, but the Imp is by far one of the cleverest of all the characters in the books. Meanwhile, the Angels are finally pulling themselves together after a couple of years of falling just short of contention. This might be the year that Mike Trout gains recognition as MVP, as Miguel Cabrera returns to Earth. As with Tyrion, one hopes that the future is bright.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers – Cersei Lannister
Lots of money, lots of pretty people, lots of Clayton Kershaw, yet one can’t help but feel that there’s a dark fall coming to these Dodgers, who at various times have been held together with little more than duct tape. Plus, it doesn’t help that Don Mattingly, one of the worst in-game managers in baseball today, is still in charge. Cersei is certainly not short of ambition, pride, or money, yet her arrogance and passions have been known to get the best of her. Mayhaps it will with the Dodgers as well?
4. Milwaukee Brewers – Jon Snow
Out of nowhere to take charge of the NL Central are the Brewers of the North, bastard sons of Bud Selig. Out of nowhere to take charge of the Wall comes Jon Snow, bastard son of Ned Stark. Whether this ends well for either Jon or the Brewers remains to be seen.
5. Detroit Tigers – Robb Stark
The Kings of the AL Central (self-crowned), they feature the last three AL MVPs on their roster, are annual contenders in the postseason, win a lot, but ultimately fall short for one reason or another. Robb started off his career as self-styled King of the North by never losing a battle. However, it didn’t take long for everything to kind of fall apart.
I wonder if Miguel Cabrera hears “Rains of Castamere” in his sleep.
6. Washington Nationals – Stannis Baratheon
They’ve done everything right (except win when it mattered). They’ve taken up residency in Washington, DC, and have attracted some relatively young talent to fight/play for them. They’ve famously adhered to their morals to a fault, as seen when they shut down Steven Strasberg in the midst of their pennant run. They just can’t quite seem to pull it all together (see the 2013 season/Bryce Harper’s continual alternating state of healthy/injured). And, much like Stannis, they’re not finished yet. (Oh, also, Jayson Werth may or may not be a praying mantis, joining the legions of mantis-people.)
7. Atlanta Braves – Asha Greyjoy
So many different ways to kill you. So ruthless. So fearful. The defense of Andrelton Simmons is a beautiful thing to watch, deadly and efficient. Craig Kimbrel can probably do the finger-dance with the best of the ironborn. And yet, as with Stannis, nobody quite takes them seriously. We’ll see about that come playoff time.
8. St. Louis Cardinals – Brienne of Tarth
Brienne adheres to a strict code of honor, pursuing her dream of living in service as a knight. The Cardinals adhere to “the Cardinal Way”, ostensibly a method of running a “model organization” and deriding your opponents as less than you. Also, both are brutally good at what they do. Beware the Cardinal banners. And don’t ever f*$# with Brienne.
9. Seattle Mariners – Margaery Tyrell
A beautiful queen who, in the HBO show, states that she “doesn’t want to be a queen. [She] wants to be the queen.” The Mariners, after years of building up mediocre teams led by King Felix, broke the bank for Robinson Cano in the offseason and are starting to come into their own as a dangerous, dangerous team. Much like Margaery, they are not to be trifled with.
10. San Francisco Giants – Melisandre, Red Woman of Asshai
They’re laid back… but terrifying in how good they are at what they do. They don’t give a rat’s ass what you think. They can see the future. They’ve won two World Series in four years. Also, Pablo Sandoval may or may not have birthed a demon shadow baby. You can’t disprove it — you weren’t there.
11. Cincinnati Reds – Bran Stark
Much of the time this season, the Reds have been crippled. Nobody denies their potential, just as nobody denies that Bran has potential to do… something or other. As the Reds slowly pull themselves together (Joey Votto just went back on the DL), they simultaneously try and stay alive in the dogfight (direwolf-fight?) that is the NL Central. Also, there is no truth to the rumor that Aroldis Chapman has a direwolf named Speedy. At least, not that we’re aware of.
12. Baltimore Orioles – Joffrey Baratheon
I’ll be honest, I attribute much of this to the whiny, petulant attitude that Manny Machado has shown this season. They’re a good team that can bludgeon you into oblivion, just as Joffrey can order your head taken off, have you turned into a court jester, or torture you with insanity purely for his own amusement. Oh, they also gave a job to Nelson Cruz, confirmed steroid user who has somehow turned it around this year, leading the league in home runs. If only there were a “purple wedding” for baseball…
13. Toronto Blue Jays – Tywin Lannister
They effectively bought the Miami Marlins, not giving a shit what anyone thought of them. They might have sucked it up last year, but they didn’t care. They’re back this year, and still don’t care. They will destroy you with home runs, and they’ll carry a god-damn parrot around the bases. They rule this place. They have all the money of Canada to throw away at their discretion. Let’s just hope that… ah, well, we’ll leave it off here by wishing Tywin a Happy Father’s Day.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates – Davos Seaworth
Another character who comes from a nefarious background of little worth, yet is now hanging with the big boys simply by doing everything right, being honest, and sticking to his principles. Oh, also, Davos was a Pirate… get it?
(Let’s be honest here, most of this silly little Power Ranking post is for fun. I am here to entertain. Are you not entertained?)
15. Kansas City Royals – Theon Greyjoy
Trying to dance with the big boys are we, Royals? Storming the castle with 25 men, eh? Well, what happens when Ramsay Bolton (SNOW!) storms the castle? What happens when injury/reality sets in? Do you really think that James “Reek” Shields will pitch you into the postseason? Hmm?…. Go on, I’ll wait for your answer.
16. Cleveland Indians – Samwell Tarly
They’re running things smartly in Cleveland, and Sam is one of the brighter characters in the books. Nevertheless, he annoys the piss out of everyone. Including me. Meanwhile, the Indians are still trying to figure out how to win more than they lose. Check back here in September to see if they’re any less craven – er, mediocre.
17. New York Yankees – Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane
The New York Yankees are perpetually evil. They loot and pillage everywhere they go. Nobody – except for their own sworn men/fans – likes them. And this year, they’re starting to get what’s coming to them. Also, some of their players may or may not be undead soldier zombies. But don’t give them the chance to spring back into action. If you do that, you won’t believe your eyes.
18. Miami Marlins – Varys
Nobody ever really thinks much of the Miami Marlins, yet they’re hanging in there, with one of the best players in the league in Giancarlo Stanton. Their whispering and manipulations are enough to drive you crazy. You just love to hate them. (Jeffery Loria is my aforementioned nemesis, just for the record.) You also know never to trust them, because that will never lead to anything good.
19. Tampa Bay Rays – Catelyn Stark
Ah, Tampa. They had it all. Everything was going so well (from 2008 to last year). And then, everything came crashing down to earth. Then again, they might not be dead just yet.
20. Chicago White Sox – Peter Baelish
I’ll be honest. After a certain point, picking out people to assign to relatively mediocre teams becomes hard. The White Sox are most like one of George R. R. Martin’s random drunk guys, or that knight that got turned into a jester, or any one of a hundred random Freys. But then again, you wouldn’t know who they are. It’s easier if I say that Chris Sale’s masterful pitching is reminiscent of Littlefinger in that it’s brilliant work, yet completely unappreciated by the rest of his team. There, you happy now?
21. New York Mets – Sandor “The Hound” Clegane
Because they’re continually picked on by their big brother. I’m not unconvinced that CC Sabathia tried to set fire to Curtis Granderson’s face. Also, you feel bad, because nobody in their right mind should ever like the Mets, but David Wright, such a nice and loyal guy, deserves much better than this.
22. Boston Red Sox – Robert Baratheon
They were the kings of the world as recently as last October. But then what happened? They got old. They failed to resign the proper players. They lost the lightning in a bottle they had caught. AJ Pierzynski lost a fight with a boar. Who could say? Either way, their reign appears to be over.
23. Texas Rangers – Jaime Lannister
Ah, the team that had it all. Talent. Fortune. Good looks. And then they went and became crippled by injury, always to be a shadow of what they once were. A shame, really, thinking about what might have been.
24. Minnesota Twins – Jorah Mormont
Forgotten, abandoned, alone on that damn Bear Island, cast out by his king, almost destroyed by exile, in love with another exile (and his queen), cast out by her after betraying her for coin (and love), thrown into bondage, nearly killed by dragons, slavers, and forced to sell his sword to exist. Things aren’t looking good for Jorah Mormont. Also, it’s really cold and bleak in Minnesota in the winter. I imagine they have bears there. But no dragons.
Oh, yeah, the Twins aren’t good either. Things be pretty low for them right now. Pretty low, indeed.
25. Colorado Rockies – Renly Baratheon
They had everything going for them as recently as…well, a few months ago. Their reign atop the heights of Major League Baseball ended prematurely, as their pitching gave out, some of their hottest hitters regressed, and they may or may not have been attacked by a demon shadow baby birthed by Pablo Sandoval. Again, you weren’t there. You don’t know.
26. Philadelphia Phillies – Eddard Stark
Adherence to tradition, honor, and respect resulted in an old, old team which is getting older by the second. At this point, someone metaphorically needs to come along and put poor Ryan Howard out of his misery — he’s a shadow of what he once was. For the Phillies, world champions in 2008, it appears that winter has come.
27. Houston Astros – Arya Stark
They’re just not good, but what’s important to note here is that they have potential. Just as you know that Arya is going to grow into the ultimate kick-ass warrior, you know that something good is going to happen for the Houston Astros. It might not be anytime soon, and they might have to contend against Oakland, LA, and Seattle for years to come, but the Astros remember: valor morghulis. All teams must lose… eventually. So goes the Astros’ hopes.
28. Chicago Cubs – Sansa Stark
Similar to Arya, Sansa is in a miserable position, currently playing wet nurse to an overgrown baby and a creepy pedophilic uncle with mommy issues. Meanwhile, Theo Epstein has to play wet nurse to the Cubs’ fan base, a ravenous, hungry mob that would as soon tear him to pieces as buy him a slice of deep dish. But, as with Arya, good things are building up in the sub-basement of the National League.
29. Arizona Diamondbacks – Oberyn Martell
They’re both snakes, get it? The Diamondbacks were supposed to make noise this year. They didn’t. The Red Viper was a favorite of many fans of the show. That ended… well, check back with the gif I included about the Mountain.
30. San Diego Padres – Hodor
I don’t know why I love picking on the Padres as much as I do. San Diego, by all accounts, seems like a lovely place. Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman are baseball icons. Nonetheless…Hodor.