And the Royals' hopes ran, they ran so far away

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All the talk of the Kansas City Royals being the Tampa Bay Rays of 2009
had already subsided long before Thursday night’s game. Losing eight of
10 and plummeting to the bottom of the AL Central took care of that.

But now the whole idea is officially dead.

The Royals have some nice pitching, including The Great Greinke, and
some young talent. But they’re not the Rays. They’re just the same old
Royals, finding new and interesting ways to lose.

On Thursday, it was a flock of seagulls that gummed up the works, and neither Alfred Hitchcock nor the musical wonder from the 80s had anything to do with it.

No, it was an actual flock of gulls that got in the way of Shin-Soo
Choo’s line drive in the 10th inning, deflecting the ball away from
Royals center fielder Coco Crisp and allowing Cleveland’s Mark DeRosa
to score without a throw.

“It was hit so sharply, I felt like I had a chance,” Crisp said. “You never know what the heck is going to happen.”

You can watch the video here.

Let’s face it, the noodle-armed Crisp probably wasn’t throwing out
DeRosa. The Royals also made two errors, Greinke was merely mortal, and
Kyle Farnsworth was – well – Kyle Farnsworth. But in the end, it was a
wayward bird that ended it.

It was bizarre and crazy, and prompted writer Joe Posnanski to serve up an amazingly comprehensive and amusing list of past Royals miseries.

Lost in all of this is the homefield advantage the Indians have
built up for themselves. Thursday night it was birds. Two years ago in
the playoffs against the Yankees, it was a swarm of bugs that rattled Joba Chamberlain.

And for you conspiracy theorists, the bugs and birds are not unrelated.

The bugs, common near the lakefront in late spring, returned a few
weeks ago, and for the past few weeks, flocks of gulls have flown
around feeding off them, as well as scraps of food tossed by fans.

“I guess the bugs brought the birds with that whole nature thing,” Crisp said. “I’d rather have the birds, to be honest.”

So what’s next in Cleveland? What eats sea gulls? Sharks? Or maybe this guy.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.