Every year since 1985 there has been a Pulitzer prize awarded for Investigative Reporting. It’s an award given out to highly prescient stories about our world, government, and their peoples. It is, as one would imagine, a difficult award to give out — there are oodles of great journalists doing fine and incredibly important work all over, all the time. This year, however, there will be a new submission that most won’t expect.
And that submission will come from yours truly…about Ryan Mountcastle and the architectural structure known as a castle.
Most are likely unfamiliar with Ryan Mountcastle, and to those people, I say 1) yes, his name really is that sick and 2) he’s one of the sneakier power bats in the league. He may not be sneaky for long after last night’s game, in which he had 9 RBI’s and two home runs (one of them a grand slam).
But instead of analyzing his swing metrics, or struggles with hitting low and inside pitches or whatever, we will be going on a journey to decide which famous castle — both fictional and non-fictional — best describes him.
With a name like Mountcastle, how can you not?
The Edinburgh, Doorwerth, and Many Other Real-Life Castles
Okay, so, here’s the thing, we’re starting off this investigation by confessing that I lied. We’ll be focusing on fictional castles. Why? Because the sport of baseball has enough nerds lurking in it, and we’re not about to add some historical dorkiness to it, too. I’m sure that the many finely-crafted castles that exist in our world — including the one where The Mouse resides — have some great stories.
But I don’t like reading. A strange trait for a writer, I know. Mr. Mountcastle deserves more than a textbook recitation of a castle headed by some king that was likely extremely evil and treated women poorly and drank wine in the throne room a lot or whatever.
Castle Doom – Marvel Comics
Doctor Doom absolutely rules. We don’t have time to explain all the reasons why (comic books are wild), but I’ll just leave you with the fact that he’s super smart, strong-willed, and constantly refers to himself in the 3rd person. His often place of residence is the eponymous Castle Doom, which features a whole lot of robots at his command and gadgets and gizmos to keep basically anyone out.
And in the Marvel universe that features folks who can walk through walls or throw tanks with their arms, that’s pretty impressive.
But Mountcastle isn’t like Doom. He’s still a flawed player, striking out a whole bunch and still working to improve his approach at the plate. Plus, Doom is a supervillain — something that, currently, Mountcastle hardly exhibits any signs of being. He doesn’t even have a sports-villian side to him like the 2017 Astros or Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Does that look like a nefarious dude who’s hellbent on ruling the world and whatnot? No way! Or, wait, maybe a tiny bit? Just the smile might possibly be hiding some evil? Maybe, but the point still stands.
Dracula’s Castle – Castlevania Series
Everyone is familiar with the vampire goon, and the Castlevania franchise one that tasks you with putting an end to his goonliness. It’s huge (duh, multiple video games take place entirely in it) and littered with all sorts of evil beasts and ghouls that you’ll need to slay before even getting to Dracula. At least there’s a kickass soundtrack to keep your brain occupied, though.
Similar to Castle Doom, this one doesn’t seem to match Mountcastle because of how sinister in nature it is. Not only that, but Dracula, as well as the Castlevania series and its stories, has been a thing for a LONG time. Mountcastle is pretty new to all this, so it’s going to take a little longer before he reaches the heights of Dracula. Even if he’s powerful — and his home runs potentially immortal — in a similar way.
White Castle – Fast Food Joint
The business model for White Castle is the most ingenious, dare I say, of any in the fast food business. Someone really just walked into a room, threw a stack of papers on a desk, and said “Screw all the numbers. Do you know what drunk or high people want? Just a crap ton of food.”
White Castle is beautiful for that, as you’re just inundated with multiple slider sandwiches that are easy to order in bulk when you’re not…capable…of thinking too deeply.
But in spite of that beauty, Mountcastle doesn’t quite fit the mold. Not only is he a professional athlete — which typically means it’s hard to make these kinds of associations given their incredible physique — but he’s actually on the record about being a McDonald’s guy. In an article from MASN, he cites things like the famous Big Mac as something he’d try in order to get his groove back.
That pretty much kills this one.
Conclusion: No, but hoo boy was it temping sheerly for the comedy of it all
Howl’s Moving Castle – Howl’s Moving Castle (Film)
Despite this one being from an anime — a genre of animation most often known for absurd action that involves things like people throwing mountains at each other — Howl’s Moving Castle is a decidedly calmer story. In fact, it’s a story that’s incredibly anti-war, and considering that Mountcastle is known for hitting nuke-blast home runs, this is perhaps the least appropriate castle to associate with him.
However, it’s not the anti-war message, but rather the castle itself that drew me to it: the thing has no defenses. It’s just a walking little house, really.
Call it the Nick Castellanos Recency Bias Syndrome, but I always assume outfielders that hit for power are rough on defense. While Mountcastle did spend some time, rather efficiently, with the Orioles in the outfield, he’s mostly manned the position at first base of late. And he’s greatly improved there, finishing the 2022 season with 1 DRS and 1 OAA.
That’s nothing incredible, sure, but it certainly doesn’t mean his defense is non-existent.
Conclusion: Could’ve been a yes, but congrats, Mr. Mountcastle, on it being a no!
Hogwarts – Harry Potter Series
When you’re with your friends flailing around like a bunch of hooligans, one question that occasionally pops up is about what fictional world you’d love to live in. Hogwarts, in my experience, is one of the most popular answers.
Who doesn’t want to go to school and learn about magic? Ride flying birds? Race on broomsticks? It all sounds great, and Hogwarts itself is filled with limitless possibilities.
But Hogwarts, aside from the magic, is also a bit mysterious. As the reader, or viewer, you view it through the eyes of the series’ eponymous character Harry, who is experiencing everything for the first time. Watching Mountcastle has never elicited a sense of mystery, really. He seems like he just loves to hit dingers — an enviable skillset, but not a revolutionary one.
Plus, Harry Potter isn’t exactly a franchise people are excited to talk about these days.
Conclusion: No, and probably for the best.
The Magic Castles – Band
Did I discover this band accidentally over the course of this investigation? That’s between me and god. But man, is there a case to be made here?
No, it’s not a literal castle structure (and yes, I lied again) but doesn’t that make it far more interesting to discuss as a selection for Mountcastle? Variety is good! Plus, there’s some extremely important evidence to go with this one. I mean…..listen to these PIPES:
What if, hear me out, Ryan Mountcastle is a secret descendant of the Magic Castles rock band from Minneapolis? There have been crazier things in baseball. We literally just had a minor league associate of the Angels lose despite throwing a no-hitter. Anything is possible!
For now, however, we’re going to need a little more film tape before making a conclusive decision.
Conclusion: No, but wait for the post-credits scene at the end of his playing career.
The Rook – Chess
Some might say this is a pretty boring way to end this investigation. Chess? Really? The game that most people will play less than the number of times they make “this is chess, not checkers!” jokes? I know, I know, but is a super technical and slow game with plenty of in-depth strategies that’s been around for ages not sound…exactly like baseball?
And for Ryan Mountcastle, the Rook fits him well. It’s a simple castle — one that can move in straight lines only across the board. But do not take that as an insult. The Rook may be simple, but if used properly can be used for a checkmate. Mountcastle’s style of play is simple, and admirable: I’m simply going to hit the ball extremely far to help my team score runs.
He’s not an all-around piece like the Knight or Queen, but If he irons out the kinks in his game, he could be instrumental to the entire team’s success. Don’t underestimate Mountcastle for his simplicity, because baseball — and, heck, even chess — sometimes shows us that the straightforward answer is what takes us to the promised land in the end.
Conclusion: Bingo! (but keep that Magic Castles thing in mind)