There are two season premieres happening this Sunday evening. One of those premieres will feature the Houston Astros. The other has dragons. Well, that's a pretty easy choice. Much as I love baseball, I don't love Texas, but I do love HBO's hit series Game of Thrones. As with last year, it's time for a joint baseball/Game of Thrones season preview. Once you start down the nerd path, forever will it dominate your destiny.
There are liberal spoilers for the first two seasons/books of the series, but if you've only ever seen the show, I won't be spoiling anything that is yet to come. Now let's put on our hip waders and venture forth into the stream of nerdiness. Leave the light on, because the night is dark and full of terrors.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES - HOUSE STARK
29 other teams' nerds will liken their favorite team to the Starks, the closest thing there are to heroes in the cruel world of Westeros. They are all deluded.
Much like the Starks, the Orioles enjoyed completely unexpected success last season despite a couple of injuries to key veterans. (OK, the Stark guys got beheaded, but nothing's perfect.) Robb Stark, the King in the North, has a lot in common with Adam Jones, in that the two men were unexpectedly thrust into leadership roles and took the world by surprise with their success.
They also have an unfortunate tendency towards impulsive decisions: Jones can't lay off that curveball in the dirt and Robb can't lay off marrying the mysterious battlefield nurse even though he was already promised to a daughter of one of his lords. Perhaps their success in other areas can mitigate any potential consequences for those choices.
Also, the Orioles, much like the Starks, are currently attempting to figure out how to take back their home from low-life scum who have invaded it.
Last year, I said the Orioles sucked too much to be Stark, and likened them to Gared, who is beheaded by an ice zombie in the first seven minutes of the series. Oops.
Put a direwolf on it!
NEW YORK YANKEES - HOUSE LANNISTER
The powerful patriarch of the wealthy Lannisters casts a long shadow over the children who are to inherit all that he's spent his long years building. So it goes for the Steinbrenner sons as they preside over the injury-riddled Yankees - including the uncertain status of a funny-looking man who has sex with a lot of women. Look, I re-used that joke from last year. I'm sorry. I bet Tyrion Lannister wishes he'd thought of gift baskets.
Undoubtedly, they have the best team - as the Lannisters field the best army - that money can buy, but what is that worth when beset on all sides by rivals who are motivated by more than just greed? Lannister holds the throne, and some others want that throne.
The Yankees and Lannister also have this in common: if you want them to win, you have no soul.
BOSTON RED SOX - STANNIS BARATHEON
Last season, Stannis had the best on-paper claim to the Iron Throne for the simple reason that he is the legitimate heir to Robert Baratheon. The Boston Red Sox had a strong on-paper claim to the World Series by virtue of having players everyone thought would be good, like Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez. Most of Stannis' best were incinerated in a gruesome, fiery maelstrom. Stannis and Bobby Valentine are equally likeable people.
All of those Red Sox guys got traded and then they signed Shane Victorino. That's not analogous to anything about Stannis. I just think it's funny.
Also, like Stannis, the Red Sox ownership would probably use a shadow baby to assassinate someone for not supporting them.
TAMPA BAY RAYS - HOUSE TARGARYEN
As with last year, I maintain that the Rays have much in common with Daenerys Targaryen. Daenerys has dragons, the Rays have David Price and Matt Moore, but either way someone's hurling fire. The Rays are geographically so far away from the rest of the division that they may as well be on a different continent; Daenerys is literally on a different continent and only a handful of people even know she or her dragons exist. She has no fans, little money, and nowhere worth calling home, but: dragons. Everyone loves dragons even if no one wants to travel to a far-flung hell-hole to see them.
Fortunately for Daenerys, she is not above robbing the gullible to get what she needs, and that could go a long way towards her ultimate victory. Which sounds a lot like the Wil Myers trade, now that I think about it.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS - THE NIGHT'S WATCH
A rag-tag assembly of the castoffs of all the other lands, they're probably never going to win the throne or the World Series, but you'll probably find yourself cheering them on at some point as long as they aren't in conflict with your team at that moment, just because it would be cool if they were victorious in their battle against an endless winter that would result in the deaths of everyone and everything you love.
The Canadian national anthem is the Night's Watch vow of anthems.
REST OF THE LEAGUE
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM - HOUSE TYRELL
Young upstart house that wants to be the Lannisters; the Angels, by buying the most-expensive free agents of the past two offseasons, seem to want to be the Yankees of the west. It didn't work out too well for them last year, much as Tyrell hitching their fortunes to Renly Baratheon didn't work too well for them last season.
But as long as you've got a desirable daughter in your house, there's always hope of winning the Iron Throne, and as long as you've got Mike Trout on your baseball team, there's always hope of winning the World Series.
No one roots for these guys unless your only choices are the Lannisters or them. And even then you're only rooting for them because of Trout.
I hear they have good wine out there.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS - HOUSE GREYJOY
The District of Columbia is not a state. The Iron Islands, home to the Greyjoys, are not an officially recognized region of Westeros, and the Greyjoys, moreover, don't have their lord recognized as one of the seven Great Lords.
MIAMI MARLINS - PETYR "LITTLEFINGER" BAELISH
While other people are killing one another over the Iron Throne, Littlefinger sits back, pretends to be friends with everyone, and robs them so well they don't even know it.
The Marlins traded away all their best players except for Giancarlo Stanton, who will get traded as soon as he gets too expensive, and they conned the taxpayers into building a stadium that will ultimately cost them $2.4 billion. Who cares who wins a trophy when you're getting rich in the process?
PITTSBURGH PIRATES - HOUSE TULLY
The Pirates haven't been worth mentioning for quite some time. Tully is so unimportant that they have not appeared in the show up to this point. This is a shame because there is a guy in the books nicknamed Blackfish who is awesome. Andrew McCutchen is also awesome and deserves better. Both Pittsburgh and the Tully's seat, Riverrun, happen to be located near multiple rivers and people are talking about them like they're suddenly going to matter. Maybe they will. We'll all just have to wait and see.
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS - HOUSE MARTELL
They're off in the desert and they probably won't matter this season.
COLORADO ROCKIES - HOUSE ARRYN
They're up in the mountains and they probably won't matter this season.
HOUSTON ASTROS - HODOR
I must now depart before I break my promise to avoid spoilers. While the events to come on the show, being based on a book, can't be changed, baseball teams have much more control over their fate. Last year's Orioles are proof of that.
This concludes your 2013 Game of Thrones Major League Baseball season preview. Baseball is coming.