UPDATE: I’m just going to stop updating this Cliff Lee stuff, because it’s changing too fast: now it’s being reported that the Nationals and Lee are “maintaining a dialogue.” Still, Lee’s agent is saying that a deal is unlikely this week, so take it all for what it’s worth.
11:57 A.M.: Well, there goes our fun for the morning. Jon Heyman says that the Nats aren’t really in on Lee and that they’re looking at other pitchers instead. So if Heyman is right, earlier reports are no longer operative. That’s how the Winter Meetings roll, I guess.
To get us through the afternoon I think I’ll start a new rumor or two. In the comments, please put the best ideas for rumors that are (a) obviously not true; but (b) still sorta kinda plausible if you squint. I’ll consider tweeting the best ones as stone-cold-fact tonight during happy hour.
With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.
95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.
In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.