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."

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Brooks addresses Wizards' effort following Wall's comments

Brooks addresses Wizards' effort following Wall's comments

Two days after his star point guard John Wall questioned the effort of his teammates on defense following a disappointing loss against the Orlando Magic, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks spoke at length about where his team stands at the moment and his efforts to right the ship. The 7-13 Wizards continue to complain about defense following games they feel they should have won, so how do they change that now that they have reached the quarter-mark of the season?

Brooks, as he has for much of this season, directed the blame towards himself.

"We aren't satisfied being 7-13. We feel like we gave a few games away and a couple of games probably didn't go our way," he said. "I'm disappointed where we are and I'm disappointed in myself in not being able to figure out how we can get better and play better and play consistently better."

On the subject of Wall and players speaking to and about their teammates, Brooks said that behind the scenes there have been no disagreements that he would classify as unusual or corrosive.

"I can tell you this that it hasn't happened. We're still together and trying to figure out ways to get consistent play and win games. The good thing about my job is that we have a bunch of good guys on the team. There's not one guy that comes to the court that I wish wasn't here. I think every coach has been in situations like that where you're not happy to be around certain players. But we don't have that here, we've got guys that work and guys that will continue to work. They are high-character guys," Brooks said. 

Brooks believes that in general honest communication is a positive thing, as long as the intentions generate from the right place.

"It's with all good teams. I've seen guys have conversations or guys have conversations with guys during games. If you don't do that, you don't care. It's important. All the great teams that have been in the history of this league have had guys that communicate during timeouts," Brooks explained. "Sometimes it's heated. Sometimes it's very heated and you have to be able to manage that. I call it coaching. We watch film and it's not about calling anybody out. It's facts, it's about how can we get better?"

The central premise of Wall's comments involved effort. He said, among other things: "to still be talking about playing hard, that's something that you should be able to do after just waking up."

Brooks has been harping similar messages involving focus on the defensive end. But he says it's not as simple as just telling players to try harder.

"It's the daily habits of doing it every day and it's pretty simple, but sometimes it takes longer than you want. I think right now, in my eyes, it's taking longer than I would like. But we're going to keep working, we're going to keep talking about it, we're going to keep watching it in the film sessions and we're going to keep practicing it on the court," Brooks said.

Brooks continued to say that the Wizards have the personnel to be better on the defensive end. They have two capable guards in Wall and Bradley Beal and others who provide value in rebounding and protecting the rim. They just haven't been able to put it all together and that is the frustrating part.

[RELATED: Film study: Wizards' defense on hiatus]

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Capitals call up Aaron Ness from Hershey

Capitals call up Aaron Ness from Hershey

The Washington Capitals have recalled defenseman Aaron Ness prior to the team's trip to Buffalo.

Ness, who has been played 17 games with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League this season, has scored the most goals among defensemen on the team (3) and is third in points (9).

The 2008 NHL second round draft pick, has played in 37 NHL games with both the New York Islanders and the Capitals. Last season, the 26-year old played in eight games for Washington and recorded two assists. 

Ness joins the team after Matt Niskanen's upper body injury, which has him missing the team's Sabres matchup on Friday.

MORE CAPS: Caps not pleased after overtime win vs. Boston