Why is this Mets pitcher holding a chicken?

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Why is this Mets pitcher holding a chicken?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Tim Byrdak and the New York Mets just gave new meaning to baseball's farm system. Thanks to the Mets' wacky reliever and a successful Twitter search, the most famous chicken in New York is headed to its new home. And surely, "Little Jerry Seinfeld" will be much more comfortable on a farm upstate than it was in the clubhouse at Citi Field. All the fun started last week, when Mets closer Frank Francisco called the Yankees "chickens." Of course, that made for cartoonish tabloid headlines in the Big Apple leading up to the Subway Series. As a prank, Byrdak, the Mets' resident joker, brought a live chicken into the clubhouse Friday, clucking up his teammates. The pitcher even posted a close-up video on Twitter of a chicken bobbing around on the carpet. Byrdak said the chicken, which he named after the funny-looking bird that stole the show on an episode of "Seinfeld," spent a couple of days eating oatmeal and resting comfortably at the ballpark. But then he realized he had to find it a new home. So a Twitter search put him in touch with the Farm Sanctuary of Watkins Glen, N.Y., which sent a representative to Citi Field on Sunday to take the celebrity chicken in a salient exchange that sent the New York press corps scrambling to document an undoubtedly transcendent moment about two hours before the game. "The power of social media saved a bird's life today," Byrdak deadpanned. Francisco explained Friday what he meant by his odd comment, saying he thinks the Yankees often protest calls by the umpires -- especially balls and strikes. He said he was excited to have a chance to strike out the side against them. For their part, the Yankees seemed pretty confused by the whole chicken dance all weekend. Confused, and disinterested. Not so the Mets. "I did my best to stay out of the clubhouse yesterday when they were trying to pull the gag on Frankie. It was pretty funny," manager Terry Collins said Saturday, shaking his head and chuckling. "It keeps the clubhouse loose in certainly an intense situation." Byrdak, of course, attributed his team's five-run first inning Friday night to its new good-luck charm. Francisco might not feel the same way -- after saving the series opener, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a strained muscle on his left side. Earlier in the day, Byrdak acknowledged there was a lesson to be learned from his chicken conundrum: "Always think ahead if you're going to get an animal."

Injury report: Amendola out for Ravens game, Bennett questionable

Injury report: Amendola out for Ravens game, Bennett questionable

Wide receiver Danny Amendola was officially listed as out on the injury report for the Patriots' Monday night home game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Amendola injured his ankle on a punt return against the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. It will be the first game he's missed this season. The Patriots signed veteran wide receiver and kick returner Griff Whalen during the week.

Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder) is among the Pats listed as questionable, along with special teams ace Matt Slater (foot), who missed the Rams game, safety Jordan Richards (knee), linebacker Elandon Roberts (hamstring) and cornerback Eric Rowe (hamstring).

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

FOXBORO – Griff Whalen was at the epicenter of one of the stupidest, funniest, most “did that just happen?!” plays in NFL history.

So indescribable it never even really earned a name, it was the fourth-down gadget play the Colts tried to run against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football in the first meeting between the teams after Indy ran to the principal’s office to start Deflategate. 

Whalen was the center on that play (I tried to call it “Fourth-and-Wrong” but it didn’t take) and the millisecond between him snapping the ball and the three players processing that the ball had indeed been snapped is perhaps my favorite moment of the past several seasons. 

Whalen is a Patriot now, brought in this week in the wake of Danny Amendola’s knee injury presumably to fill Amendola’s role as a punt returner and wideout. The Colts released him last January, the Dolphins picked him up and cut him at the end of training camp and the Chargers had him on their roster from mid-September until releasing him last month after eight games, two catches and 22 yards. He returned kickoffs for San Diego but no punts since 2015.

The primary area of need for the Patriots is on punt returns. Rookie Cyrus Jones’ transition to appearing comfortable remains glacially slow. It was Jones’ muff last week that brought on Amendola in relief. When Amendola hurt his ankle on a late-game return, the Patriots were forced to decide between Jones, wideout Julian Edelman (who doesn’t need extra work) and making a move.

Whalen is a move they made.

The slight and baby-faced Whalen indicated he had fielded some punts in practice, saying it went, “Fine.” Punt returns are something he’s done “since I was a kid.”

His first impression of the team was, "A lot of what I expected to see. A lot of detail. A lot of effort in practice. Good coaching all-around. I am excited to be here. I was excited to come into a good team that I’d gone against a few times. Hopefully come in and help out the team with whatever I can.”

I asked Whalen if he saw much of the commentary or creativity last year’s failed play spawned.

“I wasn’t paying too much attention,” he said. “When it’s during the season guys are pretty locked in on what they’re doing inside the building. But I heard more about it later on afterwards.”

Asked if he’d heard anything about the play since being here, Whalen replied, “I haven’t. Kinda was [expecting it].”

The Patriots will be hoping Whalen remains as productive for them on fourth down this year as he was in 2015.