Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 1.16.13

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Poll Question:

Where will the Penguins finish in the Eastern Conference?

Answer #1:

1-2 (66%)

Answer #2:

3-4 (17%)

Answer #3:

5-6 (17%)

Answer #4:

7-8 (0%)

Answer #5:

Out of the playoffs (0%)

Gary@NorthernVirginia: Jerry, do you think the Steelers will bring back Plaxico Burress. I think he might be a real help next year, especially if Wallace leaves.

Jerry Micco: Should Wallace leave, and I think that will happen, the Steelers would be wise to take a long look at Burress. I don't know if he's an every-down receiver, but he's a big target, which the Steelers lack.

The Chief: Hi Jerry, who do you like this weekend in the NFL Tournament?

Jerry Micco: At the start of the season, I predicted that the 49ers and Texans would meet in SB47. OK, I'm wrong. But I still got a dog in the hunt, and I like the 49ers to make it to the Super Bowl. And they'll play New England.

John: How many players can be on the Penguins roster at one time?

Jerry Micco: A full roster is 23. They can dress 20, I believe.

The Chief: Jerry, who ends up playing on the Malkin/Neal line?

Jerry Micco: Beau Bennett is an intriguing guy, but Tangradi will get that spot because he has more experience. And the Pens at some point have to know if this guy can be the player they'd hoped he could be. A big guy with net-front presence who can score 20-25 goals.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: Some in town are really down on the Pirates front office. It's hard to disagree with them. What are your thoughts?

Jerry Micco: I've been on record here as saying the losing streak stops this season. I see the Pirates winning in the low 80s. Maybe not a playoff team, but a team that will be better. I think the Karstens signing was huge, but if McDonald makes strides and Rodriguez and Burnett can pitch like they are capable, it's a pretty solid starting rotation. And Russell Martin will be a very nice addition. There are some "if" players (Marte, Snider, the bullpen) but "if" they all improve or contribute, they can win 82-85 games.

The Chief: Jerry are we seeing the next wave of what the QB position will be in the NFL with RG III, R. Wilson, Kapernick and Cam Newton ?

Jerry Micco: It's part of it, but you will also see guys like Andrew Luck, classic drop-back passers, who can still pick you apart. I think the guys you mentioned bring something new to the party, and reflects how college football is changing. But as can see from RG3, the NFL is a tough place to make a living running the ball. RBs have about a 4-5 year career span. If QBs want to carry the ball a lot, then they are more apt to take on injury.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: Pitt hasn't even begun play in the ACC and some already predict its demise. Where do you see them landing if that should happen?

Jerry Micco: I think the ACC will be fine and Pitt will do fine in the conference. If the ACC should fold, I'd think the B1G would take a hard look at Pitt. But again, I don't think the ACC is going anywhere for some time.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: Jerry, I moved away from Pittsburgh in 1980 but have always kept in touch with the sports happenings of the city. I really appreciate the chats and the Sports Now videos. Great stuff!

Jerry Micco: Thanks for saying that. We really appreciate it. And I'm glad we can keep you in touch with Pittsburgh sports and that you enjoy being a part of the sports scene here. My first job out of Penn State in 1980 was in Manassas, Va., at the old Journal-Messenger, which is no more unfortunately.

The Chief: If Flower plays to his potential (Big If), what is the split in games played between him and Vokum?

Jerry Micco: There are 8 back-to-back games on the schedule, and I can see them splitting those games unless one or the other is really playing well. I think Fleury plays 35 of the 48 games.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: You've mentioned being a reporter in a number of places, including Manassas, where I live. How do you compare the fans of other locales with Steeler fans. I've been surrounded by Redskin fans for years now, but have never thought them as loyal as Steeler followers.

Jerry Micco: I always thought Redskins games were a social event for the DC elite as well as football games for their rather rabid fanbase. I think you have less of that in Pittsburgh, but there's no doubt, Redskins fans are very good and very loyal. In the Bay Area, Raiders fans are crazy about the team, but the turnout hasn't been good in some time. SF 49er fans are fairly quiet, but very loyal. Good fans, but not rowdy.

The Chief: Ok, look into your crystal ball for a preseason prediction. Biggest Penguins surprise and biggest disapointment for the 2013 season.

Jerry Micco: Surprise may be that Brandon Sutter scores a bit more than people think. Not a Jordan Staal season of 25-30 goals, but a solid 15 (in a shortened season) and good 2-way play. If I'm going to be disappointed, it'll be because Tangradi didn't take the next step to being a better, more aggressive player an scorer. He's a big, strong guy who can make a difference. But I don't know if we'll see that.

yinzer in va: Jerry, I'm coming to the chat about 12:15, so I missed your poll. The results are interesting because no one picked 3-4, because that's where I would put them. Too many division games to finish 1-2, but at the same time, 5-6 wouldn't be a surprise either. They're too good to finish 7-8

Jerry Micco: Isn't the poll still up there? There's a "vote now" link there, too, so weigh in with your pick. I also see them as a 3-4 team, maybe finishing second to the Rangers in the division and grabbing the top playoff spot after the division winners.

John: What are your thoughts on the Pirates acquiring Shawn Marcum? I feel, that with Cole due to arrive soon and Locke and McPherson ready, it would be wise to leave room for them on the club later this year?

Jerry Micco: I think Locke and McPherson are going to battle for the No. 5 spot. But here's why you look at Marcum: he's a proven major league pitcher and he can start as the No. 5 starter in case neither Locke nor McPherson make a case to get a spot. And if Cole does what he needs to do in the minors, then you can ship out Marcum or even Karstens if neither is setting the world on fire, at the trade deadline and insert Cole. Or, keep them for spot starts down the stretch. One more item: Charlie Morton should be ready to pitch by June.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: I like Jamie Dixon, but is he the guy to take Pitt beyond where its been these last years, and secondly, do you think Duquesne will ever return to being a great program?

Jerry Micco: Dixon is a successful coach, but he's never made a Final Four. That's what i hear from Pitt fans, and it's a legit lament. He's got a team this year that could make some noise, but they just can't seem to get over the hump in Big East play. Tonight's game at Villanova is winnable for them. Very much so. But you wonder what will dog them: Poor rebounding or poor shooting? They just seem to not be able to put it all together, and some of that goes to coaching.

The Chief: Looking back at the NHL CBA, what do you think was the biggest stumbling block in not getting the deal done prior to last September?

Jerry Micco: I've got to think it was the make good amount so those guys who signed big deals in July would get their money, which was the fair thing to do. I also think the owners had to get that 57/43 split more into their favor and 50/50 is more to what other leagues with salary caps have. Actually, this one is more favorable to players.

Guest: Do Pirates start Snider or Tabata this year? I have zero faith in either one and feel that we should be trading for a bigger bat. Thoughts?

Jerry Micco: If you can get a bigger bat, who do you trade? McDonald? Walker? Neither would bring a high-quality bat, though Walker would get you something. Then again, they'd be crazy to trade Neil Walker. Cole would be the chip that would bring a high-quality bat. But, starting great pitchers don't grow on trees. I think they are going to see how Snider does in RF, but have Tabata and Pressley ready to go.

Cheesy: Do you see Bradley back coaching in the NCAA in 2013

Jerry Micco: I take it you mean former PSU coach Tom Bradley? I see Tom coaching again. He's too good a coach not to be working. But I think it's more likely you see him in the NFL, where I think he'd be a good fit, too. Bradley, and I think unfairly, is linked to Jerry Sandusky and the scandal. No one has ever leveled a charge against him, but anyone from that program can't get a job and most colleges won't look at hiring them. But the NFL is a different deal, and I personally hope Tom lands somewhere coaching football. I've known him for quite some time, and he's a tremendous coach.

The Chief: Assume Francisco Liriano will not be in a Pirate uniform this year, what do they do with the $$$$ that were targeted for him?

Jerry Micco: Maybe sign another starting pitcher or set it aside and maybe look for long-term deals with a player such as Walker.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: No disrespect meant to sportswriters, but are they really the best ones to decide who should be in the various HOF's? The voting just seems to get sillier every year.

Jerry Micco: What's silly about it? The Baseball Hall of Fame has never had a problem with the writers as voters. They want this because writers take that vote beyond serious. So serious in fact, they know they will be criticized for it. They will not be a rubber stamp and that's a good thing.

yinzer in va: Jerry, adding to your Virginia comments, I moved to Lynchburg, VA right when the Redskins won their last Super Bowl. They have a strong and loyal following all the way into NC, although the Panthers have created another fan base. They're still very loyal today, but they just haven't had much to cheer about since then. Very similar to the Steelers of the 89's. RGIII has rejuvenated the fans, much like Cowher diid in the 90's. Most Redskin fans seem to think Snyder just needs to step aside and and quit meddling with the team.

Jerry Micco: I worked in Lynchburg from 1981-1985, so I was there for a Redskins Super Bowl. Ran the sports department for a couple years during that time. At one time, the Skins were the team for All of Va. and both Carolinas. Deep following. And RG3 has given them hope that the franchise can return to the glory of the Gibbs years. As for Daniel Snyder, let the football people run your football team. You'll be surprised at how good a job they'll do.

The Chief: You surprised that other than Andy Reid, we have not seen a reguritation of former NFL coaches being rehired, although I cannot understand why no team has hired Lovie Smith.

Jerry Micco: That was going to be my comment, Lovie Smith is a very good football coach and should be coaching somewhere. I'm glad that other guys are getting a chance to prove themselves. But I'm sure they know that teams nowadays don't have much patience. Two or three bad seasons, or even winning seasons that don't make the playoffs, mean you're out. Lovie Smith was 10-6 this year, but their collapse from 7-0 forced the firing. Tough job today to coach in the NFL.

John: Any word on Omar Kahn?

Jerry Micco: Not yet, but we're monitoring. He's one of three finalists for Jets GM.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: Silly may have been the wrong word, but I've read where many feel there's a bias against more Steelers getting into the HOF because so many are already in, and some of the NBA choices of late have been a bit questionable. I don't have any real problems with the baseball hall.

Jerry Micco: Ed Bouchette votes both in baseball and the NFL. He's very active in the HOF vote for the NFL, and would be an excellent guy to put that question to. I think writers do a good job with the voting, as I stated above. Sometimes, I don't agree with how they vote, but not matter who was doing it, you'd get that.

yinzer in va: Jerry, I've been waiting since last week to comment on Chris Rainey because I find it ironic the Steelers let Rainey go so soon, yet keep Taamu around, even though his charges are more serious. This is not to say that we should take lightly what Rainey did, just that Taamu looks like he's going to face many more charges, more jail time, more fines etc.

Jerry Micco: That is a very interesting question, being asked by a lot of folks, including we in the media. Let's see where this goes. Stay tuned.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: I agree that there are a lot of strong Redskin fans, but a few years back when the Steelers played them here, half the stadium were Steeler fans. Tony Kornheiser was highly indignant about it.

Jerry Micco: Steelers fans can pack any stadium, especially one like FedEx that seats 80,000. With a bad team like the Redskins were that season, I'm sure fans were happy to give up their tickets. Tony Kornheiser does indignant very well, by the way.

The Chief: Based on your aforementioned criteria for NFL coaches, what is Mike Tomlin's shelf life?

Jerry Micco: Pretty long when you've been to 2 Super Bowls in six years and have won about 66 percent of your games. I think the ownership is happy with him and his situation is somewhat secure. I say somewhat because if he puts together another lackluster season or two, he may be headed out of town. The Steelers are patient, but in today's NFL, you can't lose regularly and keep your job.

Jerry Micco: Pretty long when you've been to 2 Super Bowls in six years and have won about 66 percent of your games. I think the ownership is happy with him and his situation is somewhat secure. I say somewhat because if he puts together another lackluster season or two, he may be headed out of town. The Steelers are patient, but in today's NFL, you can't lose regularly and keep your job.

Jerry Micco: Some breaking news: The Eagles just hired Chip Kelly, the guy who said last week he was staying at Oregon.

Chunkles: I tip my hat to the Steelers for immediately dumping Chris Rainy. Too bad the Ravens didnt have the same class and dump Ray Lewis when he murdered/covered up to deaths in Atlanta. I feel so bad that the victims families have to turn on their TV's and see this monster getting all this praise from the morons in Baltimore and the national media as the murderer bids farewell. Good riddance!

Jerry Micco: To be fair, Lewis was never charged in that case and pleaded to obstruction. I agree that many people think this farewell tour glosses over a bad part of Lewis' life. But no story I've seen on him has at least not mentioned the incident in Atlanta.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: I agree with your assessment of Tom Bradley. I like Chryst, but would have been very happy had Pitt hired Bradley instead of Graham a couple years back.

Jerry Micco: I think with all that has gone on up at PSU, that hiring Bradley and then having all that come out would have been a disaster for Pitt. None of it their fault, but the tidal wave of the pedophile Sandusky would have swept Bradley up. And Paul Chryst is a very good coach. Give him time. I think he's the right fit for Pitt.

yinzer in va: Well isn't this a small world! Was it the News & Advance? I got to know one of the sports writers just before he retired who was from West View area. Do you remember him? If I remember correctly, he named his dog Drabek, which a couple years later inspired me to name my dog Jagr. Pittsburgh Nation is in every part of our lives.

Jerry Micco: I don't recall the writer, but I enjoyed my time in Lynchburg. Nice city and the N&A was a nice place to work. I grew up a lot there.

John: I have heard some reports that the Steelers knew of Chris Rainey's past and he was on a zero tolerance contract. In other words he knew he was done if he slipped up.

Jerry Micco: They certainly knew of his past, which was well publicized, particularly the texting incident while he was a the University of Florida. I don't know if his contract had that clause, but they pulled the trigger quickly on him, which tells me that they didn't want to deal with any of his off-field problems.

The Chief: OK, time for one last prediction. I know it is a crap shoot but who you got drinking from Lord Stanley's Cup in June?

Jerry Micco: Goodness, haven't thought about that at all. Pens are the Vegas favorites, but I'm not sure they can make it. I think the Rangers are very good and are due, so I'll go with them. Maybe a great conference final if somehow they'd face the Penguins.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: I think Steelers-Ravens is a great rivalry, but it pales in comparison to the intensity of the Steelers-Raiders of the 70's. Would you agree?

Jerry Micco: I think the Steelers-Ravens of the mid to late 2000s was as good a rivalry as there ever has been in the NFL, including the one you mentioned. When guys like Hines Ward and James Harrison were going after guys like Lewis and Ed Reed, then you had some of the NFL's best going at it hard. And nasty. Great football and great theater.

Gary@NorthernVirginia: I expect you're right on the Ravens. Age has mellowed me and I'm not nearly so rabid now as then.

Jerry Micco: Well, the rivalry is still there, but with Ward gone and Lewis leaving soon, maybe it will mellow some. Not a lot, but some. And you'll likely see guys like Harrison and Reed gone in a year or two (or less) so that may take some sting away from it. But they were two of the AFC's best and they played like that for many years.

Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get to some other stuff. I appreciate you taking the time to chat today. Always a fun hour for me. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon and we'll do it all over again. In the meantime, have a terrific week and enjoy the conference title games as well as the start of the NHL. Great sports week ahead! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

Steelers - mobilehome - penguins - pirates - pittsports - sportsother


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