By this point, you may be familiar with the Pittsburgh Pirates ploy to capitalize on the broad cultural appeal of Game of Thrones by modeling their lineup introductions off of the opening credit sequence of the HBO hit show. It’s cool, for sure, and in a perfect world, all teams would have more fun with their intro videos in similar ways. But Game of Thrones is the flavor of the current era and, as they say, it’s a copycat league.
The Phillies and Game of Thrones share one main similarity. The Phillies did away with college night, so, no, bare breasts are not that common thread. Both are exciting primarily because of the building anticipation they evoke in the viewer. For the Phillies, that’s the anticipation of prospect arrival. For Game of Thrones, it's the looming possibility that the character you love is about to meet an untimely end.
Let’s not let the similarities end there, though, and go a step beyond where the Pirates dared to go by actually identifying which GoT characters share notable characteristics with current Phillies players. Just as there are a lot of Game of Thrones characters, there are a lot of Phillies players, so we’ll divide this schtick up into two posts so as not to be cumbersome.
Odubel Herrera as Jon Snow
Getting exposed to and picked in the Rule 5 Draft isn’t all that different from taking the Oath of the Night’s Watch. Both are where organizations send their problems and misfit toys. Also like the Night’s Watch, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft rarely accomplish anything significant again in their professional careers. Odubel, like Snow, is the exception. Less than a year after his selection in the Rule 5 draft, he looked like a potential franchise cornerstone. Jon Snow is now leading an army—although an admittedly measly one—mostly on his own to take back the North.
Freddy Galvis as Hodor
This season on Game of Thrones, we became familiar with the etymology of “Hodor,” which, it turns out, was basically short-hand for “Hold the Door!” Despite his best efforts, Hodor was never going to be able to hold back the White Walkers forever; all he needed to do was last long enough for Bran and Meera to get away. Similarly, Freddy Galvis can’t hold off J.P. Crawford forever, the best he can do--and the best the Phillies hope he can do—is to play his role just long enough for Crawford to be ready.
Maikel Franco as Bran Stark
Since we learned of Bran’s warging powers, he’s been widely held as one of the main bastions of hope that everything in Westeros will turn out ok in the end. When he entered into training with the Three-Eyed Raven, it seemed like only time stood in the way of Bran becoming the savior of the human race, but, after a noob move on Bran’s part, the White Walkers find him and kill the Three-Eyed Rave, leaving Bran prematurely in charge of his visions. As the first top-100 prospect to arrive in the Phillies rebuild, Franco had a lot of expectations helped on him and perhaps, after his phenomenal Spring Training performance, was forced into the role of Franchise Superstar too soon.
Ryan Howard as Ned Stark
Ned Stark was the protagonist of Season One and seemed like the sort of person who could rule competently enough to keep people in their places. Unfortunately, the Lannisters weren’t having any of that and had him executed after Joffrey seized the Iron Throne. Like Ned Stark, who was good but hasn’t been particularly relevant for some time, Ryan Howard was once a good first baseman and a very good hitter of home runs. But, he hasn’t been that for some time and many want to see his character removed from the show.
Cameron Rupp as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane
Not too much to this one: Both Rupp and The Hound are big, burly, bearded men.
Cesar Hernandez as The High Sparrow
Coming from nothing, the High Sparrow somehow seems to keep gaining power and influence with each passing episode, effectively countering every obstacle Cersei Lannister attempts to put in his way. Each week, someone different reveals him or herself to be ignorant of the obviously dangerous nature of the High Sparrow. First, it Cersei, and recently, it's Tommen putting stupid amounts of faith in this guy. If you’ve ever watched a Phillies home broadcast or read a column from one of the team's beat writers, you’ll know that Cesar gets the same treatment. Why doesn’t everyone see that Cesar is bad? Doesn't he, like the High Sparrow, reveal that with each passing week?
Peter Bourjos as Theon Greyjoy
Theon Greyjoy was once a respectable person. Sure, he was a prisoner of the Starks and probably frequented the whorehouse a bit more than you’d like of an heir to a kingdom, but we can't all be perfect. Then, he was subject to the torture of Ramsey Bolton (nee Snow) and transformed into Reek, a brainwashed, loyal servant to Ramsey. Now, long freed from Ramsey's control, Theon is unable to quite shake some of the subservience and temerity that defined Reek. Like Theon, Bourjos was a respectable major league outfielder, a fringy All-Star, even. He was nothing more than a slightly better bat away from being one of the better outfielders in the game. Then, this guy Mike Trout came along and forced Bourjos to the bench. Since then, he’s been awful, bouncing between teams but never regaining the ability he showed in 2011.
Tommy Joseph as Tommen Baratheon
In one of the first scenes featuring King Tommen, his grandfather, Tywin Lannister assures him that he’ll be a good king, and early indications were that that would be the case. Unlike his brother Joffrey, Tommen doesn’t seem to derive pleasure from killing people, and, also unlike Joffrey, he seems comfortable listening to his advisors when he's out of his element. It turns out though, that he’s too weak to really do anything. He’s easily manipulated and is basically a puppet that various characters—Cersei, Tywin, The High Sparrow—take turns controlling. It’s a wonder someone hasn’t killed him yet, but that’s probably because anyone who would kill him feels like they can control him. What’s gold doesn’t stay that way long in Game of Thrones. We’re currently in the early-Tommen days of Tommy Joseph’s career. He’s replaced the lumbering corpse of Ryan Howard and is mashing so far. But, like Tommen, who is somehow still alive, Joseph keeps hitting well. If Tome’s reign is any lesson though, Joseph’s early run of success won’t last forever.
Tyler Goeddel as Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion Lannister didn’t exactly get off to the smoothest of starts in his life. Given that his mother died during childbirth, one can assume that the very earliest moments of his life wasn’t very smooth at all. But, Tyrion stuck with it despite his father’s hatred and his dwarf status and rose to prominence as the Hand of the King for Joffrey and, later, Master of Coin. Just as he was gaining momentum—he had a committed lover, a tolerable arranged marriage, a group of confidants—he's forced into exile when Joffrey is murdered at his wedding. As a Rule 5 draft pick, Goeddel also came from not great beginnings and struggled immensely in his first month of major league action. But sometime around mid-May, he started hitting. He hit his first major league extra base hit, then his first home run. He was rolling and looked like the second coming of Odubel Herrera. Suddenly, however, Cody Asche came back from the DL and a rehab stint and the Phillies traded (Johnny) Cash Considerations for Jimmy Paredes. Since then, we haven’t seen much of Goeddel. Maybe he’ll make a resurgence, like Tyrion does over with Dany and her dragons, but at this point, we just don’t know.
Cody Asche as Mace Tyrell
It’s a mystery why either of these guys is still around. Mace Tyrell is a buffoon who contributes nothing to the advancement of the Tyrell family name and Asche adds nothing to the Phillies current or future prospects. The Tyrells and the Phillies would be better off without Mace and Cody, respectively.
Stay tuned for tomorrow when we pair Phillies pitchers with Game of Thrones characters.