James_Taipei: Do you think the Steelers can win a game against an NFC opponent this year? Or will they go 0-4 against the NFC East?
Jerry Micco: I think they are capable of winning at least one of those games and maybe two. Do the Giants look invincible after Monday night in Cleveland? Does Dallas look unbeatable after Sunday's game in Arizona? And both of those games are at Heinz. And Washington. How they lookin' after the Rams game on Sunday?
James_Taipei: To you think that the Ohio State game will be less of a challenge for Penn State than expected? I know that Penn State has not won in Columbus since joining the Big Ten but Ohio State has no offense. Penn State should win by two touchdowns.
Jerry Micco: Ohio State is always tough in Columbus. They still have a pretty stiff defense and even though Terrelle Pryor is going through growing pains, you know there's some talent there. Penn State's offense is going to have to control the ball and score more than a couple TDs. I don't think they can ring up 48 points on Ohio State. But this year more than ever, they look primed to win in Columbus. But it will not be easy.
Homey: Why is it that in baseball, if a team merely clinches a wild card birth, they have this huge champagne celebration in the locker room? That's repeated if they merely win a series too. In any other sport, that would be unheard of. Imagine what we'd think if the Steelers did that after getting a wild card spot.
Jerry Micco: Baseball is a long, long season and only a handful of teams make it. If those teams you cite celebrated using champagne, how would the Pirates celebrate if they made the playoffs? I don't think there'd be enough champagne to go around.
theWellHungarian: Is there any possible way Pitt could be matched up w/State Penn in a bowl game? Pitt would blow them out so it probably wouldn't be good for TV
Jerry Micco: It's highly unlikely that Pitt and PSU would play. And the outcome you suggest would be highly unlikely, too. I'd love to see it, and I think the game would be competitive. If PSU does not play for the national championship, but wins the Big Ten, they go to the Rose Bowl. And certainly would play USC if they won the Pac-10 and didn't play for the national title. Pitt can win the Big East, but I'm guessing Sugar or Orange for the Panthers. Too early to tell though. A lot will happen in between to both Pitt and Penn State.
theWellHungarian: When is the media going to accept that Evgeni Malkin is better than Sidney Crosby (skating, hands, defense, scoring, passing, etc.)? I understand Sid is more marketable, speaks English, etc, but lets call a spade a spade here
Jerry Micco: I would not disagree with you that overall game, Malkin might be better. But Crosby's intangibles and his gifted talent still matches up with Malkin's. I think Malkin isn't as marketable because of his inability to speak good English, but make no mistake, he's got so much talent and it hasn't come forward yet. One thing, though. Malkin disappeared in the playoffs last year and Sid did not. That's the intangible.
BamBam: There is some odd editing back and forth on Batch's wikipedia entry. Disputed claim is that Charlie Batch's father's name is Nilesh Shah. Any truth to the claim that Batch's absentee dad was Indian?
Jerry Micco: I have no earthly idea. Does it matter?
yzguy431: good afternoon, Jerry....what is the most significant sports item in the 'burgh today?
Jerry Micco: Wow, we're midweek so not much is going on. I think there are two intriguing football matchups this weekend in Pitt-Navy and Michigan-PSU. We'll be reporting on those. The Steelers game in Cincinnati lacks some buzz, but it'll be good to see how the injured Steelers play in the game. And Cincinnati has played teams tough. The Steelers should (and I'm sure they have) take note of that. And the Penguins are off to a bit of a sluggish start. But remember, it was Thanksgiving last year before they took flight.
theWellHungarian: is it just me or does Miro Satan look completely uninterested in playing hockey?
Jerry Micco: I think he's trying to get used to playing here and playing with Crosby. Sid can be tough to play with because he's so gifted and talented that he's not like playing with any other player. It takes time to get used to him. Moving Dupuis to his line I think helps because before Hossa came here, he played with Sid. Give Satan a chance, because eventually, he's going to score and do pretty well here.
theWellHungarian: Isn't it a bit ridiculous that every year for as long as I can remember, I have been forced to go to a bar & drink in order to watch the Red River Rivalry?
Jerry Micco: I know the contraints Channel 4 was under, but a lot of people are not happy about not seeing that game. It traditionally is one of the best every year, but this football crazy market doesn't see it. I'm surprised ESPN didn't grab it as a night national game.
PirateApologist: Hi Jerry, I like Jason Bay, but all Pirate fans should be rooting for the Rays. It gives absolute hope that you can build with draft picks and smart management.
Jerry Micco: Certainly root for the Rays, but better yet, hope the team on the North Side truly does mimic that team. But for them to do that, they have to build through the draft and that means more rebuilding. Pedro Alvarez is a start, but there needs to be much more.
jimmy_g: It's turning out to be a very interesting college football season with Penn State dominating teams, Pitt playing much better, and all of those upsets of ranked teams. How do you see the remainder of the season playing out for our local teams and the national championship?
Jerry Micco: Tough question. Pitt, I think, can win the Big East and get a BCS bowl. But, it won't be easy. WVU will play them tough and UConn on the road is no picnic. The game in Cincinnati can be a tough one because WVU is a week later. Still, I think Pitt wins the conference and goes to the Sugar or Orange Bowl. For Penn State, we'll know more in a couple weeks. The Big Ten is OK this year, not great. But Ohio State and Michigan State to close the season are no easy tasks. At least Michigan State is at Happy Valley. I think Penn State can win the Big Ten and has a good shot at running the table. If it does that, it plays in the national title game. If not, probably a BCS bid because they travel so well. And as I said earlier, it'd be great to put them with Pitt, but that's such a long shot.
jimmy_g: What the heck is going on with the fining of Hines Ward? I wasn't even aware of the second one until yesterday.
Jerry Micco: Seems the league is having a problem with vicious blocks from wide receivers. Mystifying to a lot of people including Hines, Dan Rooney and Mike Tomlin.
PirateApologist: Are expectations way too high for the Penguins? They've gotten points in all but one of their games. I'd be thrilled if the Pirates were over .500 after a week and a half.
Jerry Micco: After you get to a Cup final, the expectations are always there. But it's not easy to repeat that type of run year after year. And without Gonchar and Whitney for a good part of the year as well as breaking in newcomers, it takes some time. But this team will still be one of the top 5 teams in the league and should make a deep playoff run. Champions? Still way to early to even speculate.
jimmy_g: Hey Jerry, with both Chicago teams gone and hopefully the Red Sox and Dodgers soon to be dispatched, it looks like my baseball gods are shining down. With a likely Philadelphia-Tampa Bay World Series, I guess there may be hope for the Pirates...some day.
Jerry Micco: If Tampa Bay can do it, anyone can. But it takes shrewd scouting, drafting and developing that talent to get there. Especially with a tight dollar. Still, teams that can buy great veteran players will always be in the mix. And while the Red Sox appear dead, I can remember a few years back the Yankees having a 3-0 lead in the ALCS and losing. Just a reminder.
Chunkles: Jerry, do you ever get tired of covering the NFL? Me, as a fan, I'm tired of clicking onto the sports pages and this guys arrested this guy is suspended. Its like I'm on some kind of FBI website. It really takes the wind out of a game I enjoy when the first 15 minutes of any pregame football show goes over the weekly police blotter. Why cant these athletes seize the moment and enjoy their blessings? The Steeler have been very lucky in getting decent players throughout the years. Who gets the credit for that?
Jerry Micco: The scouts and front office people who work with Kevin Colbert probably get most of the credit. And the parents and coaches of those players who were taught to respect people and property and to use their tremendous talents to enrich themselves and their families. And no, the NFL isn't tiring to cover. Sure, the cop stuff gets old, but it's part of the game now.
PirateApologist: Jerry, if the Pirates clinched a .500 record, I'd call off work for 3 days.
Jerry Micco: I hope you don't have a use-it-or-lose it policy on time off at work.
jimmy_g: I was flipping channels yesterday and came upon the Penguin game on Versus just before Pascal Dupuis scored the winning goal with 10 seconds left in OT. Wow! Now that's the way to win a game.
Jerry Micco: And you saw the best part of the game. Good timing, jimmy.
theWellHungarian: from what I heard from reliable sources, Malkin suffered broken ribs in the series against the Flyers & had the flu during the Red Wings series. Before that, he was the best player in the world, by far.
Jerry Micco: Being injured may have caused his problems, but that's never been put out there as a reason by Malkin or the Pens. And having colds/flu is part of playing hockey. Those guys have them all season it seems. All I'm saying is that Malkin is every bit as talented as Crosby and maybe better. But Sid certainly has all the tools Malkin has only in a more compact body.
Carnegie: Jerry, I love the sports chats. I don't always get to attend them and I am being called away now, but I wanted you to know that I faithfully read all the sports chats. It enhances my online PG experience as I am a transplanted Pittsburgher. I especially like getting your input and opinions from questions since you don't have a column. Please say it ain't so but don't let small attendance numbers affect the chats. Do you think the chat attendance goes in cycles like sports seasons?
Jerry Micco: Someone asked me last week about small numbers and possibly discontinuing this chat. I even got a couple emails from folks saying don't stop them. Well, that's never crossed our minds. I didn't say this last week because it slipped my mind, but we get very good Website traffic on the chat transcripts. That's part of the value of them. People who can't be here can access the questions and answers. And as I said then, it's my favorite hour of the week. My nephew Jon, who lives up near Sharon, reads the transcripts most weeks. Even lets me know if it's not there. So if nothing else, I've got at least one transcript fan!
peter_griffin: if I were a Pitt fan I would be more worried about Navy than the BCS. The Middies gained about 1000 yards last year in that game. Can Pitt stop the triple option?
Jerry Micco: We'll see soon, won't we Family Guy. But again, even if they lose to Navy, Pitt's goal should be to win the BCS. And hey, knocking off everyone, including Navy and Notre Dame out of conference, goes a long way to getting that national notice. I'm excited to see Pitt and PSU playing well. That gives us a lot of storylines to write and the fans are very interested in reading them.
jimmy_g: By all indications Charlie Batch is an overall good guy regardless of his racial or ethnic background.
Jerry Micco: I've only ever heard good things about him from the reporters who cover him, the Steelers front office folks and the public.
peter_griffin: Could you see Staal being traded for a goal scorer to play with Sid? Staal's probably going to get caught up in a numbers game here at some point, right?
Jerry Micco: Maybe a money game, but he's such a nice defensive player with a bit of a scoring touch that you'd hate to see him go. He's blossomed into a 2-way player who probably is a 20-goal a year guy. But if he can play good defense and work with Malkin to grind some on that line, he'll be invaluable.
theWellHungarian: after the Pirates traded Bay, I heard all the Pittsburgh media saying that the Pirates got the best end in the deal. I'll admit it I drank the Kool-aid, but now I'm watching Manny in LA & Bay in Boston, and who did we get Andy LaRoche & a bag of baseballs?
Jerry Micco: Again, you have to look down the road if you are the Pirates. Moss has some pop in his bat, but that bum knee could sidetrack him for at least a year. Morris, the kid in A ball, is the pitcher they coveted who they believe they can develop. And LaRoche is pretty rocky, but he's only had a year in the bigs. Anyone looking for immediate gratification from the Bay-Nady trade is whistling in the dark. This was a deal to replenish the minors and, hopefully, develop some depth.
peter_griffin: Just curious ... why did Bob Smizik write 3 articles a day about Mark Madden's exit at 1250, but his return to the air is buried in a notes article about other TV/radio happenings?
Jerry Micco: Well, Bob had the story a couple weeks ago that Mark would be returning, which was a story I believe we ran on the front of the Sports page. I could be wrong about the placement, but I know we did a separate story on it. And the fact that ESPN was taking their No. 1 talent off the air for offensive remarks is news. Like it or not.
Carnegie: Does it bother you that today's great players rarely if ever stay with the same team. I used to love to compare my modern favorite player's productivity to the team records of many Pittsburgh sports legends like Willie Stargell, Pie Traynor, Honus Wagner, The Waner Brothers, etc.
Jerry Micco: I wish it were as it was from say 1965-1972, but it's not. I loved that era of baseball. So many great players and you knew who played for whom. But that's not baseball today or sports today. So we adjust and we still turn out in record numbers to watch them play.
PirateApologist: Follow up on Hines Ward: Why don't the fines come within days of the game- not weeks after?
Jerry Micco: They review tape and I'm sure they discuss their findings. Though I've always thought it odd that if there's no penalty, there is still a fine.
yzguy431: Jerry, when will the NFL become a flag football league?
Jerry Micco: No worry about that one. The NFL knows that gambling on their sport, and the violence that it projects are huge selling points to the public. Oh, and the players are pretty talented, too.
peter_griffin: Great job last night by Empty Netters. Does he blog from the press box?
Jerry Micco: He does from home games. At least most home games. Seth Rorabaugh, aka Empty Netters, also works on our copy desk, so he has other duties. But we're trying to free him for all the home games. Sometimes, we won't be able to do that, but our goal is to get him to all the home games.
peter_griffin: Red Sox were down 3-1 to the Indians last year with Sabathia pitching game 5. Don't throw dirt on them yet.
Jerry Micco: Exactly. I had forgotten about that.
theWellHungarian: Any word on Dominic Cheek. I heard Pitt is in his final 3 along with Kansas & Nova ... Dante Taylor, Lamar Patterson, and if they get Cheek, ican Pitt Hoops be considered on of the Top 10 programs in the country?
Jerry Micco: If I followed recruiting as well as I should, I could answer that question. But I don't. Ray Fittipaldo covers Pitt hoops and would have a better line on that than me. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
jimmy_g: Is there any way the Cincinnati game is a "trap" game for the Steelers? After all, the Bengals are 0-6 and Carson Palmer will not play. It has all the marking of a "trap."
Jerry Micco: Again, in this league, this season, any game is a trap game. I think the Steelers need to go out, put up a couple quick scores and get a lead. It'll make Cincy lean on an inexperienced QB to get the job done, just what you want if you're the Steelers.
peter_griffin: I know one guy who is not a fan of the weekly chats - Ed Bouchette. I think he'd take a root canal over spending more time with the fans.
Jerry Micco: I've answered this before, but everyone's different. Ed's asked to do a lot for us because of the team he covers. And not everyone is given to long, involved answers. Ed's a to-the-point guy. But he's the most knowledgeable reporter I know on the Steelers. He's a hell of a reporter. But remember, chats aren't where we give away stories, so he as to be guarded. As do all of our beat guys.
theWellHungarian: I am not a fan of Penn State at all, but I'll give credit where credit is due, Why hasn't Daryll Clark received any Heisman attention?
Jerry Micco: There are many good QBs out there this year and Clark is a redshirt junior. He wasn't on anyone's radar and it's hard to move up when you're in that position. By year's end, he'll likely pick up a few votes.
jimmy_g: Follow-up on Pitt-Navy: Somebody reported yesterday of the day before that Wannstedt's record against the next four opponents in 0-8. My opinion is that he absolutely has t o turn that around with at least a 2-2 record in the next four games, not for the BCS but to keep the program moving forward.
Jerry Micco: That was our Paul Zeise telling readers Wannstedt is 0-8 against the likes of Navy, Rutgers, Notre Dame and Louisville. I think if those 2 wins are against Rutgers and Louisville, fine, that keeps them perfect in the Big East. But overall, you'd like to see at least 3-1 in this stretch, and Notre Dame is certainly beatable, so 4-0 would not surprise me. The program could use a BCS bowl, certainly, but an 11-1 or 10-2 season would be a real sign to recruits.
jimmy_g: We don't talk much national college football in the chat but this appears to be the year that the Big 12 has overtaken the SEC as the best college football conference.
Jerry Micco: I was just thinking about that today, because I generally lean to the SEC for that nod. But with Oklahoma, Texas, Mizzou, Ok. State, Texas Tech and Kansas all playing well, the Big 12 seems deeper this year than the SEC. And unless someone goes undefeated in a BCS conference, it's likely a team from each of those conferences will play for the national title.
Count_Chocula: I'm glad these chats are archived so I can look back and laugh that someone actually believes this Pitt team could hang with PSU this year. Puhleeze.
Jerry Micco: You never know until they play. I didn't think Pitt could hang with WVU last year. I thought they'd get killed. But I think we all remember what happened. Do I think PSU is better? Yes, I think they are. But so remarkably better that it would be a rout? No, I don't think so. And wouldn't it be great if that question could be answered on the field?
YeOldeBuccoFan: "P-G Sports Editor Jerry Micco says 'Give Satan a chance.' " Boy, could THAT be taken out of context and get you a flood of letters!
Jerry Micco: All I am saying ... is give Satan a chance. My nod to John and Yoko.
PhillyMarty: Any thoughts on Greg Lloyd's book, the comment that the Steelers should have won at least 2 SB's. Maybe I am not the only one who thought Cowher was overrated, a poor big game coach until the end.
Jerry Micco: It's not out of the question, Marty, that they could have had at least one, and probably 2 SBs during that time. Cowher is always going to be considered a very good NFL coach. His record proves that. But even with the SBXL win, he'll always be dogged by what he let get away. He could have maybe had at least 2 more and arguably 3 more.
Count_Chocula: While the Steelers deserve some credit for bringing in quality character players, was this not the same team that employs Santonio Holmes and James Harrison, both involved in domestic disputes? That's not exactly a seminary over there on the South Side.
Jerry Micco: As well as issues Najeh Davenport has had. No team is completely clean these days. You know you are going to have issues because quite frankly in our society, a lot of folks have issues. Athletes are no different.
PhillyMarty: I was amazed by the concern of Steelers fans over the MNF result as voiced in Ed's chat. Browns never stopped the Giants run game yet they did not stick with it, Eli played horrible. Those teams play 10 times, Giants might win the next 9.
Jerry Micco: They might, but that night they did not win. And it shows that in this league there is very little margin for error. Or for poor game planning. It really is the parity league and more and more, it's hard to call anything a true upset.
PhillyMarty: I think about 1/3 to half the teams in the NFL are legit SB contenders, but there is not a really good team among them, Steelers included in all respects.
Jerry Micco: For weeks, we heard that the Cowboys were the team to rise above all others. OK, now we know that's not true. Then it was the Giants. OK, they are mortal. The Steelers held that mantle for a while, until Philly whacked them. Tennessee is unbeaten, maybe they are the real deal? Really? Tennessee? I think this league is pretty level and we won't know more until past the halfway point. And don't look now, but San Diego and Indy look to be playing better, too.
jimmy_g: How many more days to the start of spring training and the beginning of the Pirates record breaking 17 straight losing season?
Jerry Micco: Please, not even on my mind. I think, though it's about four months. Then the countdown begins.
theWellHungarian: Which is the worse professional sports organization: Pirates or Detroit Lions?
Jerry Micco: At least the Pirates have some championships and playoff victories. Not so much the Lions. At least not in modern times.
YeOldeBuccoFan: Do you realize that if the Rays make the World Series, they would be the fourth team to make the World Series who didn't even EXIST the last time the Pirates made the post-season?
Jerry Micco: That's great knowledge. The Pirates probably wish you weren't doing that type of research, but there it is. And with no salary cap, any team can draft well and get a few key players and win. The Marlins did it twice and blew the team up twice. You can do that without a cap.
PhillyMarty: So which weak sister in the Big Ten will upset the PSU apple cart, if not OSU next week?
Jerry Micco: You wonder if Iowa, at Iowa City, is a game the Lions will overlook. And when you have a guy like Javon Ringer, you're going to be in most games. Michigan State will not be easy, either.
theWellHungarian: Will Limas Sweed go down as one of the biggest busts in Steelers draft history? Alonzo Jackson at least dressed for a few games
Jerry Micco: I think we will have to wait on Sweed. Receivers, not all of them, take time to develop. Let's give the guy a chance. And he'll be the fourth WR dressed this week. Dallas Baker is injured.
jimmy_g: Since his rookie year Santonio Holmes appears to have straightened out his personal life quite a bit.
Jerry Micco: He's playing like everyone thought him capable of playing and yes, it seems off-field issues no longer dog him. He's got some good leadership in that clubhouse. Guys like Ward, Farrior, Foote, etc., know how to lead and they are good examples for him to follow. And Holmes seems to be doing just that.
peter_griffin: Too bad all the Pens games aren't on Verses. So nice to not have to deal with Steggy and Bob for 2.5 hours last night.
Jerry Micco: I don't mind the Pens team, but it is nice to hear what national guys have to say about them. Though having Edzo in the booth kind of makes you wonder if he still doesn't have a place in his heart for the team he once coached.
Jerry Micco: Folks, I need to get back to the salt mine. Thanks for taking the time to join me. It is good to see a lot of folks in the room, some new folks with my terrific regulars. See you next Wednesday at noon. Thanks for the great questions and get ready for more next week!