Bears

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."

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: St. Charles East

Head coach: Bryce Farquhar

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (4-2 Upstate 8 River Conference), St. Charles East made the 2017 IHSA state Class 8A playoff field. The Saints defeated Oswego East then lost to eventual 8A state champion Lincoln-Way East in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Rock Island

Aug. 31 @ Carmel

Sept. 7 vs Glenbard North

Sept. 14 @ Wheaton South

Sept. 21 vs Geneva

Sept. 28 @ St. Charles North

Oct. 5 vs Batavia

Oct. 12 @ Wheaton North

Oct. 19 vs Lake Park

[MORE: 90 Days to Kickoff - Warren]

Biggest storyline: The Saints have had impressive campaigns the last two seasons. Can they continue to prosper in the newly-formed DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Justin Jett and OL Dylan Barrett

Biggest holes to fill: The Saints will look to reload at a few key spots including at quarterback, as Clayton Isbell has moved on to Illinois State. Replacing RB/LB Nick Garlisch (South Dakota St.) will be key as well.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Bryce Farquhar's Saints have produced playoff seasons in back-to-back years. Now, their regular season ramps up a bit with the newly-formed DuKane Conference. The new league features some former Upstate Eight conference foes in St. Charles North, Batavia and Geneva, plus former DuPage Valley members Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Glenbard North and Lake Park. Look for the Saints to rely on some experience up front. Three starters are back on the offensive line, including junior OG Dylan Barrett. He has already added several FBS level scholarship offers.