Despite the time-consuming nature of a 162-game season, the Nationals are a prime example that major league players still spend late-spring and early-summer Mondays doing what seemingly the rest of America does: recapping the the previous night's edition of Game of Thrones.
“We come in and [reliever] Shawn [Kelley] shows up to the field and the first line is ‘Dude, how about that episode?’" says reliever Sammy Solis.
Indeed, if you've spent any time inside the Nats' clubhouse before a game — especially in recent weeks — it doesn't take long to find a segment of the players opining on the latest exploits of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister and the all the goings-on in Westeros.
“Arya’s one of my favorites," says starter Tanner Roark. "Definitely Jon Snow. Jon Snow’s the man.”
Roark, Kelley and Solis aren't alone. The group of Nats that are fans of the hit HBO fantasy drama include, among others, Stephen Strasburg, Daniel Murphy and Jayson Werth, with the latter using the show's title theme as his walk-up song since 2013.
"[It's] BP chatter, definitely clubhouse chatter," Roark says. "We’ll text each other as the episode’s over."
"It’s definitely something amazing," says center fielder Ben Revere, who was introduced to the show late last season by then Toronto Blue Jays teammate R.A. Dickey. "It’s a great story, and with me, I’m an action man, and we got lots of it."
As Thrones fans know, the best way to experience the show is by watching it as it airs live on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. That way, none of the big plot points can be spoiled — especially on social media. However, though most teams aren't on the field during that time slot, being able to watch live isn't a luxury players always get. After all, Sunday is getaway day for many clubs, so Thrones-obsessed major leaguers who're traveling often have a narrow window to catch up before the rest of the country Monday morning quarterbacks the show's latest chapter.
"If we’re flying somewhere short, we’ll be able to watch it that night," Roark says. "But if we’re flying somewhere cross country…..I’ll be able to watch it on my iPad immediately as soon as it ends."
A major consequence of missing the live broadcast, of course, is finding yourself in the all-too-common predicament of having to self-impose a Twitter blackout to avoid spoilers.
"It's never fun to try to avoid social media through the night and into the morning because everyone posts ‘Oh my god! This just happened!’ and I haven’t seen it yet," Solis says.
Solis says that when on the road, he's seen his teammates pulling out their iPads on the bus or in the hotel so they can watch the latest episode before pre-game warmups. And while some Nats say they're sensitive of those around them who aren't caught up, sometimes it's hard to avoid being exposed to the freshest round of reaction and theory-swapping.
"I heard some guys kinda talking about it, so I walk away," says Revere, who didn't watch Sunday's season finale until midweek. "I don’t wanna hear what happened. Of course, I see one of the text messages [a teammate] sent, and I got so mad.”
Of course, anyone in the clubhouse who isn't up to date with the current plot will now have plenty of time to do so, with the show's seventh season set to begin next spring. Until then, even as House Washington embarks on its journey to capture baseball's version of the Iron Throne in October, it's unlikely the Westeros-related chatter will stop anytime soon.
“I think everyone’s feeling that withdrawal now, I’m dying," Solis says. "So honestly, I’ll probably watch the season over again. You know, maybe I missed something."
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