Who will win Game 7 of the NBA Finals?
Jerry Micco: Hello everyone and welcome to the weekly chat. I'll be back in a few minutes to officially open things, but in the meantime, please vote in our quick poll and submit early questions. See you in a bit!
Ralph_LA: I did not ask the right question last week, and I hope that I am asking it better today. I know that if the Pirates had brought Gerrit Cole up at the beginning of the season he would have been eligible to get offers from other teams a year earlier. How long did they have to wait to bring him up before they get don't have to worry about negotiating with him a year earlier than planned?
Jerry Micco: I'm not clear on that, Ralph. There is a Super 2 category and those guys get their year for arbitration early by some mathematical calendar formula. Bill Brink, our Bucs beat guy, probably knows this better than I do. But some of Cole coming up was injury. They have four starters on the DL, so that depth has com in handy. As for Cole, the thing the Pirates are concerned about isn't necessarily free agency with him, it's when he's eligible for arbitration.
Guest: Latos said the following after last night's game: "It's time somebody stepped up and did something about the team that's hit more guys in the league than anybody," Latos said. "I got fined for hitting Neil Walker, but you've got a team drilling guys over and over again. It's time for the league to step up and end it. That fired me up."
Jerry Micco: He did say that, and what he said is true. The Pirates have hit more guys than any team in MLB. But how many of those were deliberate? I can think of one right off the top when Morton drilled Shin-soo Choo.
Guest: Sorry, I hit enter on the Latos quote without saying...Is that not an absurd thing for him to say?
Jerry Micco: No, it's not absurd, it's factual. I don't think MLB is going to do anything about it. The Pirates do hit guys. It's just that they usually don't have someone who can throw 100 MPH fire at people's heads. That's what the problem is. And they don't just throw at one guy (see McCutchen) like the Reds seem to be doing. The Pirates hit the Reds 6 times last series and no Pirates were hit. Phillips missed 4 games after he was hit. But the Reds have no beef and to me, it's because of how Chapman operates.
Ralph_LA: I go to be a little gleeful for 4 innings during Saturday's Dodgers-Pirates game. Before the game started the LA announcers speculated that the Pirates were spotting the Dodgers a game by putting Cumpton up against Kershaw. Any predictions on what will happen with Cumpton and Cole now?
Jerry Micco: Cole's here to stay. Cumpton is probably a fill-in for Wandy Rodriguez and/or AJ Burnett, whichever one comes off the DL first.
Guest: Are you a fan of tough USOpen courses or should the USGA force courses to think about cutting the rough? Also, tough one for your boy Lefty.
Jerry Micco: Oh, I'm used to Lefty finishing second in the Open. Been through that heartbreak six times. And I knew his real competition in that final round would be Rose. Good Open player and his game is so rock solid. Great win for him. As for the courses, I like my Open winners to be at even par. I think the course should play that way. Toughest test in golf should not be played on a course that mimics the John Deere Open.
Steve-o from South Side: finally got an exciting NBA finals game last night! what are your thoughts on NHL vs NBA playoffs?
Jerry Micco: I don't know why the fans of both sports always seem to have to try to one-up each other. If you love sports, you'll pay some attention to both. I'm not a big NBA fan, but I watched last night's game after watching the Pirates. I love sports and the drama of sports, and a Game 6 with the Heat down 3-2 is must-watch, even for an occasional NBA watcher like me. Both series are terrific and very close. I called 7 games for each. I got one right. Now the Blackhawks need to win one or two so the NHL can go the limit.
Guest: Why is Grilli having so much success this year when nothing in his career would have predicted this success? Is there a new pitch or a pitch he.
Jerry Micco: Some guys just find a role and thrive in it. He was a pretty good pitcher when he first came up, then he went to the scrap heap. But he seems to have worked hard on his game and it certainly has paid off. Still has a lively fastball at 92-94 and his slider is greatly improved. Now, can he do this all season long? He's 36, we'll see.
Dave: To what do you attribute Grill's success this year? Management could not have expected this
Jerry Micco: No, but they saw enough last year to think he could close. And he's obviously worked hard in the offseason. Plus, Hurdle has been somewhat careful with him. I'd not be surprised if he didn't pitch tonight regardless. Sometimes Hurdle just shuts him down for a day, which I think is smart.
Guest: Does Boston's play in the Finals, make the sweep on the Pens any less painful to think about? Chicago is in a tough fight right now.
Jerry Micco: Boston is a good team that played poorly down the stretch and cost themselves a higher seeding. But that doesn't seem to have stopped them. Only team that came close was Toronto in round one, and the Leafs had them by the throat and blew it. I think a lot of folks thought Boston could win the East in preseason predictions. But after all the trades, many switched and said how could the Penguins not. We see how that turned out.
Chunkles: Jerry, let me just say this first, Sidney Crosby is one of my favorite Pittsburgh Athletes ever. Having said that, and signing Malkin and Bylsma to new contracts it occurred to me what ails the Pens. Its Sidney. I hope he never leaves the organization but he is the problem. It can be fixed. He is not a leader. He is not Captain material. Some of the all time greats played into HOF but were never great leaders. He is not vocal or passionate in a way to inspire other teammates. The Pens need to bring in a veteran who steps up to the microphone or in the locker room and has this team on his back. No one fits that role as we speak. No one.
Jerry Micco: Crosby is a tremendous captain. Ask his teammates. Not all captains are rah-rah guys. Mario wasn't. Steve Yzerman wasn't, nor, for that matter, was Wayne Gretzky. But no one works harder than Crosby and no one plays with more of a passion than Crosby. I have no idea where you're getting your information, but the guy is a born captain.
#footballfactory: Still waiting for that first editorial to come out from the PG against the Paterno family lawsuit....guess I'll be waiting a long time
Jerry Micco: Tom Waselewski is our Editorial Page Editor, and he's always available and willing to listen to ideas. And how do you know our editorial page editors would be against it? Some people think it has merit, but that's really for the courts to decide. Of course, you've already made that decision so why do you care. And as far as I'm concerned, you can wait around as long as you like. Or, write a letter to the editor. We like getting those, too.
Bill L: Say Tiger Woods does what he's done the past four years the rest of his career (bad short game), with a some tournament wins here and there and then one more nostalgic major victory. Where would he rank all time? At or near the top-- I think it's interesting because you can't say that Nicklaus was better than him, can you?
Jerry Micco: Tiger will likely finish with many more tournament victories and while he may not make it to 18 majors, he's going to be very close. He'll be the best ever when his career is over. But then one day, another young golfer will come along and we can have this debate all over again.
JamesinNYC: What do you think about planting Hostas this time of the year....just kidding that is tomorrow's chat. What 4/5 RBs do you see sticking this year for the Steelers?
Jerry Micco: I have a pretty good looking flower garden, but no Hostas. On the other hand, when you talk Steelers RBs, Redman, Bell, Stephens-Howling, Batch, Will Johnson (FB). I don't think you keep both Redman and Dwyer. But depends on if they want 6 RBs on the roster.
Phil: Who wss that doing the NBA finals? "Amazing--it may come down to foul shots!"..like every other basketball game I've ever watched.
Jerry Micco: Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy. Doris Burke, who is really good at what she does, is the sideline reporter.
Paul: Looks like the Patriots are finally getting some bad luck--Hernandez and Gronk. Now I'm glad we didn't let Sanders go to them.
Jerry Micco: I'd not jump so soon on Hernandez. Investigation, but nothing more than that at this point, unless I missed something. As for Gronk, back surgery early in your career is never a good thing. I hope he recovers because he's a great guy to watch, but we'll see how he comes out of this.
Gary@northernvirginia: It's been awhile since the list came out, but what do you see as the reason for Ben R. to be rated #61 in the top 100 players? Do other players just dislike him?
Jerry Micco: It could be because when you look around the league, you are ranking guys for different reasons. Where did he rank in QBs on that list? I know folks who say he's top 5, but others who say top 10 at best. He has his detractors and there is some smoke there. He has been injured the past couple seasons and threw some terrible picks down the stretch last year. That said, just having him on an even mediocre team makes the Steelers dangerous.
yinzer in va: Jerry, Why use Grilli to close last night with a 4-0 lead? Wouldn't it be better to rest him and give some one else a chance?
Jerry Micco: I thought the same thing, but my guess is with the meat of the Reds order up in the 9th, Hurdle wanted to take no chances. And, if I recall correctly. Grilli didn't pitch on Monday, so could be Hurdle wanted to get him an inning, same with Melancon.
Jim: Is Barmes no longer the starting shortstop?
Jerry Micco: Hurdle said the other day they are going with Mercer as the starter and Barmes as his backup. So far, that looks to be a very good decision. Mercer still needs some work in the field, but his bat has been solid.
Gary@northernvirginia: Are there any particular national sportswriters you admire? I'm sure there are ones you don't, but I expect you'd not be comfortable naming them.
Jerry Micco: There are several good writers out there, but for me, I think you like guys for different reasons. For instance, columnists I put in one group; beat writers in another and takeout or feature writes in still a third. I don't know that I have any must-reads, but I like to read a little from a lot of guys in that group.
Will: Before my time, but don't you put George Blanda on the Oilers/Titans Mount Rushmore? I'm unsure about the history but didn't he win a couple AFL championships?
Jerry Micco: The Oilers won the first 2 AFL titles under Blanda. I guess you could make an argument for him, certainly. Earl Campbell for sure and probably Mike Munchak who was one of the best OL in the NFL during his time.
Gary@northernvirginia: What has happened to Western PA high school basketball. In my youth, a good number of players came out of both the city league and the WPIAL. Those days seem long gone. Is it just population drop, or something more?
Jerry Micco: Population drop, mostly. Though you still get some good talent out of here, it's not a big area for recruiters to come through. You do have the DeJuan Blairs and the Derek Jeters, but they are few and far between.
Guest: Thoughts on unloading Fluery to free cap space for Letang? Which do you suppose has a greater upside in his future?
Jerry Micco: I'd say Letang has a greater upside, but if you lose Fleury, you have to find a goalie good enough to get you 40 wins in the regular season. I know Fleury has faded in the playoffs, but those goalies are really tough to find. But if you asked me to keep one, I'd say Letang only because D with his talent is tough to come by. All that said, I don't know if they'll be able to afford Letang.
Gary@northernvirginia: How likely do you think it that Chryst lands his QB nephew out of California?
Jerry Micco: I think it's 50-50. You'd think family ties makes it a lock, but that's not always the case. I understand that he's a quality kid and QB so for that reason, it would be fun to see him here and cover him for his time at Pitt. But there's still a lot that can happen between now and signing day in February.
Guest: What difference does the goalie make if your game plan is to be so offensively oriented and leave the goalie out to dry with shoddy defense anyway?
Jerry Micco: Because if your goalie isn't very good, you won't win 30 games all year. While the playoffs are where you make your mark, you do need to win in the regular season and do the best you can to get a high seeding. I get that No. 8 seeds have won Cups, but no one plays the regular season to lose.
Gary@northernvirginia: I'm fairly neutral as concern Pitt's AD Steve P, but he does seem pretty stubborn about the old Pitt script, there uniforms from the 70's and so on. I liked both. Is there much of an outcry to bring them back?
Jerry Micco: I don't see Steve Pedersen's email, but I know there is a vocal group of Pitt fans who want to see the old Pitt script. Maybe it's a small minority, I'm not really sure. But I think that ship has sailed. Part of being an AD is you need to make decisions and stick with them unless you see it hurting the entire program. The script, no-script Pitt thing doesn't hurt the program, I don't think. Now, hiring bad football coaches, that hurts the program.
Guest: Did Pedro wear number 17 his 1st year in the majors ?
Jerry Micco: Yes he did.
Gary@northernvirginia: Jerry, I love your chats, and Smizik's blog. Is there any chance of Bob doing a semi-regular chat here. He had great ones in the past.
Jerry Micco: About a year ago, Bob asked not to do chats anymore. He's such an active blogger that I can see why he wanted to do that. Bob is technically a freelancer for us since he retired several years ago. But his popularity remains because as always, Bob seems to cut right to the heart of things. I know I enjoyed my time with him, which was only a few years, when I came to the PG.
Guest: Im thinking number 24 could be a bad luck number for him. The curse of Bonds, Maybe change ?
Jerry Micco: I think it was the number he wore at Vandy. I won't swear to that, but I thought he wanted it for that reason. I don't think the curse of the Barry will affect Pedro. If he keeps driving in runs, and gets that average up around .250, he'll be fine.
Gary@northernvirginia: Do you think the Big East, or whatever its now named, will survive as a major conference, or become a Conference USA?
Jerry Micco: In football, probably closer to C-USA.
Gary@northernvirginia: 24 is a good number for Pedro, also being the number of one of my all time favorites, Dick Groat.
Jerry Micco: Groat wore that number proudly here in Pittsburgh. Also worn by Arky Vaughn.
Ken: Check out the mock drafts--Steven Adams could be a top 10 pick. The Bucknell 7 footer guy might go first round. I should have drank my milk.
Jerry Micco: Or wished your parents had done some genetic engineering. Adams will be picked around No. 10, which means he could fall to 12 or 13, too. But he's a top-half-of-the-draft pick, no question. His game is still a bit raw, but 7 footers who can run are at a premium. Some NBA team will use a low first-round pick on him.
Mark: Still think the Buccos need another bat in their lineup.....getting tired of Snyder striking out...Presley's not bad but another bat I think would really move them to the next level and allow them to be moe competitive within the division....while you can never have enough pitching seems like they have enough arms to go around.....your thoughts...thank you!
Jerry Micco: Another corner OF bat would be what I'd look for. Snider and Presley (or Tabata) are , to me, filler players for guys like Gregory Polanco and Bell in the minors. But they are a few years away. I think as the trade deadline approaches, Huntington may have to give up some pitching for someone like that. And those guys are tough to get in trades. The RF rotation can work, but it's not a formidable group
Will: Wasn't Mike Easler #24? "The Hit Man!"
Jerry Micco: Indeed he was.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time go get to some other stuff. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I always enjoy the company. Note: I will be off for a couple of weeks, so no chat until July 10. Until then, have a great couple of weeks and we'll meet again in July. Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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