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.

Danny Espinosa reportedly skipped Nationals Winterfest because of Adam Eaton

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Danny Espinosa #8 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after teammate Chris Heisey #14 (not pictured) hits a two run home run in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.

A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.

Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.

Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.

Nick Cafardo: Red Sox should deal Pomeranz, not Buchholz

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on September 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-4. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.

The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.

Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.

Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.