NEW YORK -- Little Jerry Seinfeld clucked into Citi Field on Friday afternoon, after Mets reliever Tim Byrdak asked a clubhouse attendant to buy the live chicken from a downtown Flushing merchant. In a reference to closer Frank Francisco calling the Yankees "chickens," Byrdak presented the bird to Francisco and told him the Yankees sent it over from the visitors' clubhouse.
After Francisco cried foul -- fowl? -- Byrdak eventually admitted that the joke was his doing. So now the Mets have a mascot, or at least a good luck charm. With Little Jerry -- a reference to Cosmo Kramer's cock-fighting chicken on a 1997 episode of "Seinfeld" -- sequestered in the clubhouse, the Mets plated five runs in the first inning off Yankees starter Andy Pettitte on the way to a 6-4 win.
"Of course he's worth it," Byrdak said of his $8 purchase. "We scored five in the first."
Clearly, the Mets have embraced their inner poultry since Francisco's comments made the front page of Friday's New York Post, alongside a picture of Derek Jeter's head superimposed onto a chicken's body. Rather than apologize, Francisco clarified that his comments were in reference to the Yankees often complaining about calls. Then he went out and pitched a scoreless -- albeit rocky -- ninth inning to close out Friday's Subway Series opener, while his teammates continued to joke incessantly about the whole ordeal.
Overnight, team chef Theresa Corderi researched online what to feed Byrdak's chicken, settling on a mix of oatmeal, berries and bread. But it all begged the question: what's next for Little Jerry?
"You can't just put it out on Roosevelt Avenue," noted teammate Jason Bay.
Lest a horde of animal-rights groups come banging on the clubhouse door, Byrdak said he is researching "a chicken sanctuary or somewhere where he can rest comfortably the rest of his life, and not worry about a deep-fryer or an oven."
In the interim, Little Jerry Seinfeld was "resting comfortably in a very secure place" prior to Saturday's game, Byrdak said, while his teammates continued to cluck about the joke.
"I did my best to stay out of the clubhouse yesterday," manager Terry Collins said. "It was pretty funny. I don't know if the chicken is still here. I don't know where it is. I don't want to know. But it keeps the clubhouse loose in certainly an intense situation."