Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 1.29.14

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Poll Question: Last NFL game of the year: Who wins Super Bowl XLVIII? Denver (75%) Seattle (25%)

RossFromRoss: Jerry, As currently constructed, the Pens cannot contend against the Bruins in a seven game series. This is irrefutable. Indeed, they might have severe trouble (again) with the Flyers. In order to improve, which is more important in your opinion: getting a single winger as a replacement for Dupuis, or getting several forwards to replace the non-scoring dead weight on the 3rd and 4th lines?

Jerry Micco: I think getting one very good top 6 winger is what is needed. I think that they will be fine when a guy like Beau Bennett returns because it adds some depth to the scoring. To beat a team like Boston, you have to be physical and you have to be able to grind out some goals. The Penguins got tougher on defense with a guy like Scuderi. Now, they need to get a guy to play with Crosby and Kunitz. But it'll cost them a young defenseman or two.

Best Chatter: I am the best chatter in the league! You're a mediocre chatter! See what happens when a mediocre chatter chats with me!

Jerry Micco: I'm going to hook you up with Richard Sherman. Pal, you are in trouble.

Louis: Jerry, Is a return from Vokoun really plausible? Or is this more wishful thinking along the lines of the return of Sean Spence for the Steelers?

Jerry Micco: I think a return from Vokoun is still a bit of a long shot, but if he's at the point where he can take a few shots, then it's still a possibility. It all depends on what his doctors say and how he feels. It is something that you cannot fool around with, so the level of caution is extremely high. I'm surprised, frankly, that he's come this far.

Chunkles: Why did the Pirates sit and wait for AJ Burnett, knowing that he was upset, probably insulted, that Clint went with Cole in game 5 instead of the veteran? AJ and Hurdle may have "Smoothed" things over but I would be shocked if he resigned with the Buccos! I think AJ will never forget how he felt even though it was the right move based on both pitchers results against the Cardnals.

Jerry Micco: The Pirates made Burnett an offer and according to Neal Huntington, they are still talking. But in my opinion, the Burnett ship has sailed. I think the Pirates need pitching and it may be what they have in the biggest supply. Of course Burnett won't be easy to replace, but if Liriano can come close to what he was and having Cole for an entire season will be an improvement. How Wandy comes back from injury and how Morton pitches will be huge, though.

The Chief: Jerry, hope you had a good week. Your thoughts on the Super Bowl being played in NYC. Old school in that elements will play a part in the outcome or should the game be played in a dome under ideal conditions?

Jerry Micco: I say play it anywhere it can be played. If a city can accommodate the fans and media that attend, they deserve a shot at hosting it. Football is played in the elements all the time. I have no problem with this. If you want pristine, then make everyone get a dome and play every game in perfect weather. I'm looking forward to a cold-weather game. Actually, the Steelers first SB win over Minnesota at Tulane Stadium was played in rather cool, overcast weather.

Flummoxed in Seattle: Is Andrew Lambo going to be the lefty 1B to start the season?

Jerry Micco: I think he is in the mix. I also do not thing the Pirates are done trying to make a deal for an established left-hand hitting first baseman. I think they are going to look at Lambo very hard in spring training, though.

The Chief: Jerry, What is the fascination with Volquez? He was a 5.00+ ERA last year pitching in the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine.

Jerry Micco: I think it's because they believe Ray Searage is a miracle worker, because they are going to need that kind of effort to get Volquez turned around. It did not work with Sanchez last year, though. However, late last year, Volquez turned it around some and he is a power arm who gets strike outs, which the Pirates love. If Searage can turn him into a solid No. 5 starter, get 6 innings out of him with a 3.8 ERA, he'd be worth the money.

Louis: Jerry, I know Bob Smizik thinks Terry Bradshaw is a world class BSer, and I saw Terry on Mike and Mike today recounting how he and his teammates felt like no one was giving him and the Steelers a chance in Super Bowl IX, that the Vikes had a great defense and a great QB, etc. A quick Google search confirmed my memory that the Steelers were favored in that game. Not saying Terry is a bad guy, but I think it confirms what Bob Smizik said, namely that Terry will generally tell people what he believes they want to hear, even if he contradicts himself from one moment to the next. No real question, but just an observation about Terry and Bob.

Jerry Micco: I don't know Terry Bradshaw at all, and would defer to Bob on that since he covered him while he QB'd the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles.

DNY: How can Coonelly talk about making a financial commitment once attendance rises, go on about having a TV deal in the upper half of MLB (not true) and then pass on making even a 11-12 mil negotiated offer to AJ?

Jerry Micco: Payroll will rise to about $76 million, which still leaves the Pirates on the lower end of teams in MLB. Just a fact of life in today's baseball landscape. They have increased payroll, but they cannot contend with the big boys. But maybe that's not where they want their money to go. Maybe they are banking on trying to give bigger money to Alvarez or thinking that if they can trade for a better hitting first baseman it'll take a bit more money. I think they thought they made a fair offer to Burnett. But maybe Burnett now wants to see who will make a better offer. It's all part of the game.

Frank A: Jerry, what position do you see as the Steelers biggest off season need? CB, FS, WR? Am I correct in assuming that Shamarko Thomas is better suited to play SS rather than FS?

Jerry Micco: I think nose tackle is a glaring need because teams ran on the Steelers at will, which forced Polamalu to come up and essentially play LB this season. So you may see a Louis Nix be taken No. 15. I think CB and WR would be next on the list. FS would be on the list next. Thomas is a strong safety and at 5-9, he's going to be going against 6-6 tight ends like Gronk. That's going to be a tough match up for him, but he's supposedly quite an athletic guy, so we'll see.

The Chief: Your thoughts on Pitt's loss to Duke.

Jerry Micco: Duke's best game of the year. If they shoot it that well in a tournament game, they will beat whoever they play. That said, Pitt's defense in the past two games has not been very good. And if they can't play defense, they are going to be in some trouble. While I think offensively Pitt is much better than than have been, they are not capable of going toe to toe with teams that can score. Pitt is a very good basketball team, make no mistake. But still needs to play good defense and give Lamar Patterson some help to win big games.

keith: I am a casual hockey observer and live a few hours from the penguin facility--worth the trip to see a game live? If so, what seats should I get?

Jerry Micco: Live hockey is a tremendous sport. It may be the best sport to watch in person. Seats can be very pricey. If you sit down low, you get great action, but you also will pay and arm and a leg. Might want to try a weeknight game vs. a lesser foe. Might be able to get a good price on a ticket. But the atmosphere is very good and the Consol is a terrific venue.

semich51: What was or is the main reason the Pirates did not make the qualifying offer to AJ....was it because they were afraid of hiim accepting it?

Jerry Micco: I'm not 100 percent sure. I think they thought that $14.1 million might have been too high for him.

DNY: Does the exit of Kirby Wilson mean the Steelers are doubling down on Todd Haley?

Jerry Micco: I think Wilson may have seen the writing on the wall with Haley and the offense turning it around in the second half of the season, meaning he'd be behind him for at least one more year and maybe more. So perhaps he thought a change of scenery might afford him a quicker ascent to a coordinator's job. And I can't say for sure, but the RB coach works with the OC. Maybe he and Haley didn't see eye to eye on things.

Louis: Jerry, Regarding your comments about cold weather Super Bowls, let's not forget that the only reason Super Bowl IX was played at Tulane Stadium was because the New Orleans Superdome was late in being constructed. As for warm weather vs. cold, I think the real losers when cold weather cities are chosen are the fans who travel there and are subjected to the cold of the North rather than the warmth of the southern cities.

Jerry Micco: But 85 percent of the fans who go are corporate types who get tickets from their companies. You don't always see the same fans you see at say Heinz Field in the seats at the Super Bowl. That said, the game is played for the players. I think you under estimate the fans and how they can handle the weather. I'm not saying play the game outside in Boston, but I think an outside game in DC or Baltimore wouldn't be a terrible thing.

NaplesDave: Hi Jerry, Given the Steelers current receivers being undersized, why not go after a tall free agent receiver and draft defense?

Jerry Micco: They could do that, or flip that around. But they state every year that they are not going to be big players in free agency, so you have to see what they actually do. I'd like to see them pick up a corner or safety in FA and then go NT or WR in the first round. The draft is deep in CBs, so you could wait a round. But if you are just picking up parts in FA, then you need to draft all your needs. And frankly, you have to then hit on every pick. And we know that doesn't always happen. And WR size doesn't always matter. Otherwise, 6-5 Derek Moye would get more shots to play.

The Chief: The NHL has not committed to the Olympics after Sochi. With the 2018 games in South Korea, not a hockey bastion, is this the last Olympics we see NHL players competing?

Jerry Micco: I don't know if it's the last one ever, but I'd not be surprised if the NHL passed on South Korea in 2018. With the time differential, it really doesn't give them a chance to showcase the game among other things.

Guest: Jerry, I know you're a huge Tiger fan, after his missed cut at Torrey Pines how can he possibly win a major this year let alone pass the Golden Bear?

Jerry Micco: Obviously, you don't follow my chats. Not a huge Tiger fan. I like the left-handed guy who is is rival and breaks my heart most of the time. But that said, I do think Tiger has a major or two left in him. And I do think he can get one this year. You watch him play and you still see the brilliance. He won, what, 6 times last year on the Tour? He still has a very good game.

Ray Miller: Is AJ Burnette still steamed at being passed over in Game 5 for Cole? And is pitching so bereft that a team will pay him 14 million? Good Luck AJ

Jerry Micco: He and Clint Hurdle say that is all over and done with. I don't know how he really feels about it, so I have to take him at his word. And since he's not talking to anyone these days, we really don't know.

Chunkles: About the Draft, hypothetically, if the Steelers played this Sunday against Seattle, they would be underdogs and why? Their defense. That tells me right there that they need to focus on the D. The Steelers offense is fine. I would draft a receiver in one of the late rounds and maybe sign a free agent. Focus on the D! Nose, Corner, and Linebacker.

Jerry Micco: I'm with you there. I want defensive players taken, unless you fill a need through free agency. I think they need to get better all over their defense. I would not ignore WR, though. At some point, they are going to have to address it and if not in FA, then likely no later than round four of the draft.

Donatas Zavackis: If I gave you 3-1 odds that Pitt won't make the Sweet 16, would you take that bet?

Jerry Micco: No, because the NCAA Tournament is all match-up oriented. If Pitt had to play a Creighton, it might be to Pitt's disadvantage because the Blue Jays shoot a ton of 3s and can light it up on a given night. But if they play a team that is big inside, but slower, Pitt can slice and dice them. I do think Pitt is a Sweet 16 type team, though. So maybe I'd take your bet.

semich51: Do you make Spring Training in Bradenton often? If so where are the good places to eat? I'll be there for the month of March

Jerry Micco: I do not. I've been once since arriving here in 2004. Bill Brink would be a good guy to ask. I'd say Jenn Menendez, but she's new to the beat and this will be her first spring training. Both will be starting chats up soon, so feel free to check our site and ask. They'll help you out.

Tom Flores: Why is Tony Dungy looking like he's getting into the HOF? 1 Super Bowl win. Who's next Brian Billick? Barry Switzer?

Jerry Micco: I don't know that he's looking like he's getting in. I'm not sure he's a shoo-in. He's won a lot of games and has had some success, but I agree. Not necessarily a slam dunk in my opinion either.

Phil: Jerry, I don't think this is the Bus's year either. Too much of a logjam...Marvin Harrison and one of the holdover receivers, Charles Haley, Strahan's in because of the NY Super Bowl angle. Even Mr. D might get votes over Bettis this year. Ugh. Maybe next year.

Jerry Micco: If Bettis doesn't make it this year, he may start to lose votes. After a while, the name just starts to wear off. And then, he becomes a veteran pick, maybe. I think Bettis should be in because of his body of work. Yes, only one ring, but all the guys who have gained less yardage are in while he is not. I don't know, something about that isn't right.

Bill L: Hi Jerry. Elway posing with the Lombardi doesn't excite me. He always was and is continuing to be a nemesis. The Broncos have always been a problem since 1977, for that matter. Go Seabags.

Jerry Micco: Took Elway a few times before he could hoist the Lombardi. Nemesis or not, he certainly earned it. But you have that option to root for those Seahawks. I think it'll be a fairly split vote among the fans.

Louis: Jerry, Great chat and thanks for answering our questions. With regard to the fans going to cold weather cities for Super Bowls, I was referring more to the ability of fans to enjoy the warm weather in the days before and after the game. I went to the Super Bowl in Tampa and appreciated walking about Tampa in shorts the several days before the game.

Jerry Micco: That's always fun. We've had 3 since I've been here. I went as the on-site editor to Dallas and Detroit. Freezing days at both. My deputy, Donna Eyring, went to Tampa. She grew up in Florida. Just luck of the draw. I went to the first, sent her on the second, and I went to the third. If the fourth is in Pasadena, I'm going. Pulling rank. I love California, and Pasadena is such a pretty place.

Chuck in Blawnox: If the Steelers take another LB or go OL in the 1st round I'm jumping off the Bloomfield Bridge

Jerry Micco: I think that would be an eye-roller for a lot of people. I don't see that happening.

The Chief: Jerry, where would you rank Peyton Manning in the list of all time QBs?

Jerry Micco: He's got just one Super Bowl. He wins a second, he's in the top 7, maybe top 5. His numbers are outstanding and he's been excellent for years. But he didn't win as many titles as maybe he could have, and Tom Brady was his nemesis for many, many years. Brady, in my mind, is ahead of him.

Ken: What Chunkles said. Let's get back to what we do a best and light a fire under Cortez Allen, Jarvis Jones and others!

Jerry Micco: If you can get your own young guys to step up, that's the real key. Steelers need to do that first.

Capt. Jack Sparrow: Agree with yout hat the AJ ship has sailed. Buc fans need to accept reality that AJ isn't returning and only when 2014 season is completed will we know if it was a good or bad move by Pirates mgmt to not try to sign him at $14M. While Pirates can always use more good starting pitching, I'm not grieving over a 37 year old guy who while still good, apparently got his little feelings hurt and had a hissie fit over Hurdle's decision in the Cards series. Let's focus on getting better at 1st base and RF and say goodbye and thank you to AJ.

Jerry Micco: RF may be resolved by Gregory Polanco when June rolls around. The pitching is deep, and there's Jameson Taillon hanging around in Indy, too. It's a deep minor league system.

Guest: There's a great little Italian place I go to in Bradenton, it's called The Olive Garden. Authentic Italian food.

Jerry Micco: There's one in Cranberry and Ross, too, if you don't want to go that far. Just sayin'.

Guest: What happened to Michael Sanserio covering the Buccos?

Jerry Micco: Michael expressed an interest a while back in doing some reporting for the Business staff. He enjoyed covering the Bucs and working in Sports, but had other interests, too. We try to let folks pursue that if there's a fit, and we had one for Michael in Business. He does sports business stories now among other things. Jenn Menendez is a veteran reporter and is excited to cover the Bucs. She's going to be a great teammate for Bill Brink.

The Chief: Your thoughts on the Ravens signing Gary Kubiak as OC.

Jerry Micco: Terrific hire. Kubiak was an excellent OC for Denver for a number of years.

The Chief: OK Jerry, who you got in the Big Game on Sunday and why?

Jerry Micco: I'm really torn on this and have been all week. I'm not really a fan of either team, but I really don't dislike either team. I'm kind of meh. Now after all that rubbish, I'll take the Seahawks because I think their defense can stop Denver. It'll be a close game, though. Very close.

Billy: Can a team rebuild from the draft when it doesn't sign it's own drafted players (Wallace, Lewis)? Bottom line, the Steelers now have more holes than draft picks. Please tell me they will spend the money on real Free agents instead of retreads

Jerry Micco: They have stated publicly that they don't see themselves being big players in free agency. Doesn't mean they won't test the market and see what's out there, but they do like to build from within. But you are right. Unless your drafts are deep and good (like taking Richard Sherman in round 5), and you develop players, you will have holes. The Steelers have plenty, which is how you get back to back 8-8 seasons. Huge offseason coming for them.

Paul: Considering Manning's year and he got to the SB for the third time at 37, I don't think his legacy gets tarnished too much if he loses Sunday, now that he didn't lose again in January, right?

Jerry Micco: People still count how many times you won, not how many times you got there. I don't think if he loses people will knock him down too much, but obviously, wins count more.

keith: Who do you think reached the highest level of career qb play: Elway or manning? Or is the jury still out? I think if I could pick Elway at his best or manning I might go manning now...

Jerry Micco: Tough to say. Both are Hall of Fame guys, though Manning isn't formally there yet. Elway played in an era where the passing game wasn't what it was when Manning played. Elway was much more athletic. A very powerful, mobile guy. Manning probably gets my nod, too, but not by very much.

Jerry Micco: OK folks I need to get back to some other stuff. Thanks for taking the time to join me today. Tons of good questions. Sorry I couldn't get to all of them. I'll be back at noon next Wednesday and we'll crank it up again. Until then, enjoy the Super Bowl, and I'll see you next week. Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

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