Major League Baseball’s postseason is upon us! After a full season of competition, the twists and turns, the ups and downs, and the zigs and zigs, have given us the best teams in baseball and also the Kansas City Royals.
This is the first playoffs in a while where both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have missed out on the October fun. As a matter of fact, seven of the top 12 team payrolls in the league missed out on the postseason. Talk about overspending! Who’s running these teams, the U.S. government?
In the playoffs, it doesn’t actually matter who has the “best” team. The recent St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants championships are proof of that. Those teams barely made the playoffs and got lucky for just long enough to emerge covered in champagne. I mean, David Eckstein was a World Series MVP. Yes, David Eckstein.
But that’s baseball. Weird things happen when you throw a round ball at a round bat. All you can really do is try to make an educated guess and then sit back and hope you weren’t the most wrong of everyone else’s predictions.
This year, there is no one team that really stands out as the one. But we’ll work our way through this and see if we can bring some clarity. As much as I love baseball, it can be a bit boring at times, so let’s spice this up a bit. If you are familiar with my writing, you know I can’t just write a column and give my opinions. I need something to tie it all together. In past years, I compared every playoff team to separate contestants on Dancing with the Stars and then the world’s top chefs.
Sure, I could just tell you now who I think will win it all, but where’s the fun in that? This year I am going to compare each team to a different Game of Thrones character, but don’t ask me how because I have not thought this out very much, and anything that you read from here on that seems clever or insightful is entirely an accident.
Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on these days and is a combination of epic battles, thrilling fights, mysterious creatures and intense drama – everything we could ever hope for these baseball playoffs. The books that GOT is based on were written by George R. R. Martin. And since I’m diving all the way into this, henceforth, I will be known as Jed R. R. Rigney.[Editor’s note: That won’t be possible as it would require re-linking all your past articles and we wouldn’t want anyone to lose access to your diatribe about Canadians being secretly terrible or that pedestrian Colorado Rockies article you wrote a couple weeks ago.] [Note to Editor: I don’t mind you doing all that work.] [Editor’s note: Finish up, Jed.] [Note to Editor: You got it, Jon. I missed our little chats.]
There are 10 teams in baseball’s playoffs, but if we really wanted to do a Game of Thrones comparison, they have so many characters we’d have to include every team, every team’s minor league affiliates and even some college teams. Don’t be surprised if you wake up tomorrow and you’re a character on that show.
Let’s do this.
Pittsburgh Pirates (wild card) – Arya Stark
What a perfect team to start with! The Pirates are a natural fit since Game of Thrones actually has pirates (not actual pirates though, those are just actors who are dressed up). Arya Stark is the feisty daughter of ill-fated Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell. She’s sharp, determined and full of potential. Sometime soon, she could be a force to reckon with, just not right now – like this Pittsburgh team. They’re loaded with young arms and bats and with the proper development could become a championship contender in the next couple years.
San Francisco Giants (wild card) – Jaime Lannister
Here we go again with another “pretty good” Giants team entering the playoffs as a wild card. They can’t win the World Series again this way, can they? GOT’s Jaime Lannister is handsome, athletic and smart – everything you need to succeed in a place like Westeros. Oh, except he doesn’t have his right hand – just like the Giants don’t have their best right-handed pitcher Matt Cain. Jaime still has his left hand – as the Giants still have the left-handed Madison Bumgarner – and if any place would be cool with his incest kick, it’s San Francisco.
Washington Nationals (division winner) – Stannis Baratheon
The 2014 Nationals are what every terrible team hopes for their future selves. After suffering year after year of being awful, the Nationals have finally put all the pieces together and have a legitimate shot at the championship. Stannis Baratheon is technically the true heir to the Iron Throne, but something like that doesn’t matter much in Game of Thrones. He started off on the show seeming like a sort of hard-headed buffoon but has grown into someone who would certainly be a better king than most of the other a-holes running around Westeros. Nobody believes in him nearly as much as him and his followers. And that about sums up the Washington Nationals.
St. Louis Cardinals (division winner) – Theon Greyjoy
Oh, boy. What a mess this division is. The Cardinals are certainly the worst division winner this year. They’re really only where they are because the Milwaukee Brewers fell apart. Theon Greyjoy probably shouldn’t be alive either. His ill-fated coup of the Stark home ended up with his men turning him in to be tortured and maimed. He now goes by the name Reek. Speaking of “reek,” the Cardinals offense stinks and their pitching isn’t as good as it was last year. They’re the “luckiest” team in the playoffs and it’s usually around this time that season-long luck runs out. Theon’s luck ran out a long time ago, but I still like his chances better than St. Louis.
Los Angeles Dodgers (division winner) – Daenerys Targaryen
On paper, the Dodgers have the best team in the playoffs, and with $70 million more payroll than any other playoff participant, some could say they have an unfair advantage. Daenerys Targaryen also has an unfair advantage: her three dragons – and also her frequent nudity. Hey, it’s not TV, it’s HBO – and that means getting naked is a must. Daenerys’s family used to rule Westeros, and she has a legitimate claim to the throne. She has good intentions, but her execution and foresight are lacking at times. Which reminds me: Don Mattingly is the Dodgers manager. It’s still hard to believe they’re letting this guy learn on the job with a team this loaded. The Dodgers have an army of good hitters, but it’s their three dragons – Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Yasiel Puig – that could return them to the throne they once held.
Kansas City Royals (wild card) – Bran Stark
Kansas City hasn’t been to the playoffs in quite a long time, and wouldn’t it be a heck of a thing if they won it all? They’re even called the Royals, and that would be perfect for my Game of Thrones thing. Too bad they’re not very good. They should savor being in the playoffs because it won’t happen again soon. Bran Stark is the oldest living son of Ned Stark. (Shout out here to Ned Stark’s spermatozoa – gettin’ it done!) Bran is a paraplegic and is only able to walk in his dreams – which happens to be the only place the Royals have a chance. Bran is always accompanied by his dim-witted bodyguard Hodor and this brings us to manager Ned Yost. Hodor has made a name for himself by only saying “Hodor.” Yost has made a name for himself by being so bad at managing a baseball team that “#Yosted” has become a popular Twitter term for bad managing in any sport or field of endeavor.
Oakland Athletics (wild card) – Petyr Baelish
I hate to be the one to break this to you, but the Athletics are the best team in baseball this season. And in Game of Thrones there’s no one better at playing the “game” than Petyr Baelish. He’s risen all the way from middle class lineage to a King-appointed Lordship and marrying Ned Stark’s daughter Sansa. He’ll do whatever it takes to succeed. He can murder, blackmail and double-cross just as well as the Athletics can pitch, field and hit. Okay, so they looked crappy down the stretch and almost missed the playoffs, but before that they were the consensus “team to beat” in the American League. Teams would do well to not take Oakland for granted or they could end up being eliminated like one of Petyr Baelish’s many victims.
Baltimore Orioles (division winner) – Cersei Lannister and her incest babies
The Orioles were the first team to clinch a playoff spot, and they have a really good team that’s performed well all season in the AL East. However, that’s not nearly as impressive as it used to be with that division’s weak performance this year. Cersei Lannister and her children seem to be running the show in Westeros these days, but, like the Orioles division title, it seems quite flimsy. More and more people are figuring her children are not actual heirs to the throne since her brother is their father. It seems like it’s just a question of time before the wheels come off the cart and the joy ride is over. Sorry, Baltimore.
Detroit Tigers (division winner) – Tyrion Lannister
I would love to have done a Jose Altuve joke with Tyrion Lannister, but the Houston Astros are still a couple years away from being mentioned in a playoff preview. The Tigers barely won the AL Central again though this team doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as good as recent Detroit teams. Tyrion Lannister isn’t a very good person but you root for him because of everything he’s been through – kind of like the city of Detroit. Tyrion is lucky to be alive since he was framed for King Joffrey’s murder and sentenced to death. Like Tyrion in battle, the Tigers defense was among the worst. Miguel Cabrera had a down year at the plate (easy food joke goes here) and Justin Verlander showed signs of aging on the mound as well as in those leaked naked photos with Kate Upton.
Los Angeles Angels (division winner) – Jon Snow
Last year, I kept writing about how good this Angels team could be, and I took a pretty good beating here, on Twitter and especially from my mother. Well, guess what, Mom? The Angels had the best record in baseball. However, even with that accomplishment, and an offense that is the scariest in the league, they’re still second banana to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In GOT, Jon Snow is the half-brother of the Stark children and the bastard son of Ned Stark. He’s a lot like his father: a skilled fighter and a natural leader, but in truth he is a little dumb – not quite the full package. Since they lost ace pitcher Garrett Richards for the season, the Angels mediocre pitching could be the one thing that stops them from winning everything.
Spoiler Alert! I just realized that probably not everyone reading this column has seen Game of Thrones and I may have just given out a bunch of spoilers. Sorry.
It’s still very unclear which character will win the Game of Thrones. Even though it’s based on a series of books, the series isn’t done, so we can’t even look up the plot outlines on Wikipedia and see where all these shenanigans wind up.
If I had to guess, I’d say it comes down to Daenerys Targaryen and one of the Stark children – possibly even Jon Snow.
For these playoffs, I’m predicting the Dodgers overcome their managerial flaws and face the Angels in a very good series but with very un-Game of Thrones ratings. Of course, if they mixed in some nudity and some dragons, the ratings would be through the roof.
If you’re upset that I was inaccurate about your favorite GOT character or that I didn’t pick your team to win, you should keep in mind that I am not really a die-hard GOT fan and also that you shouldn’t waste the precious breaths of your life on being upset about this stuff.
Here’s to some great playoff baseball full of thrilling adventure.