Poll Question: Who will win tonight's Game 7 and face the Penguins in round 2? Answer #1: Flyers (37.5%) Answer #2: Rangers (52.5%)
Bill from Indiana: Jerry, is the NBA setting a dangerous precedent by punishing people for opinions made in private? I abhor Donald Sterling's comments, but I think our country has gone too far.
Jerry Micco: They are comments made in private that were made public by an NBA owner in a league whose players where the vast majority are African-American. What Adam Silver did was the right thing to do. It's a sad chapter for the NBA, but we all knew, or should have known, what type of person Sterling was from his past public actions. None of this, and I'm including the girlfriend in this, should make anyone feel good. Just sad and pathetic all the way around.
JamesinNYC: Any news on Sutter? Playoff hockey must be in his genes.
Jerry Micco: As many of you who follow my chats or follow me on Twitter (@PG_JerryMicco) know, I'm a big Brandon Sutter fan. Give him a couple of decent wingers, and I think he's a 15-20 goal scorer who can play defense and help on the PK. No news on his injury, though.
James_Pittsburgh: Are the Penguins done if they face the Flyers in round two?
Jerry Micco: They will have a tough hurdle if they face the Flyers. They have not played well against them all season and seem not to match up well with their state brethren. However, I would not count them out of any series. It's the playoffs. Anything can happen.
Tony C: I feel CJ Mosley is an underrated prospect as an a freak athlete and team leader in a 3-4 defense at Alabama. If Evans, Gilbert, and Dennard are gone, do you see the Steelers considering Mosley?
Jerry Micco: I don't think they do that at No. 15 because they don't see a huge need at ILB. There is more need at DE than ILB. There are other CBs or WRs they could take at 15.
James_Pittsburgh: When will Clint Hurdle wake up and bat Andrew McCutchen second? The Reds are batting Votto second. Plus sabermetrics show that it is a good idea to bat your best hitter second.
Jerry Micco: I think Hurdle is tinkering with the lineup because he's got too many guys who aren't hitting. He's going to move Marte down to 7, or at least he was before last night's rainout. Maybe that's what Sabremetrics show, but Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron hit 3rd most of their careers and seemed to do OK. I'm not always sold on these higher-level stats.
James_Pittsburgh: Do the Penguins extend Brandon Sutter this summer? Do they have enough money to keep him?
Jerry Micco: They will pick up some money if they let Orpik go. I think they would be wise to extend Sutter if they can do it. He's a very solid 3rd-line center who can do a lot of things for them. And if he has a good playoffs then it just solidifies his importance to the team.
The Chief: Jerry, hope all is well. In your opinion were the Blue Jackets that tough or did the Penguins take them lightly?
Jerry Micco: Things are good Chief, thanks for asking. I think the Blue Jackets, one of the NHL's biggest teams, made things tough for the Penguins. The Pens will always have trouble with physical teams because they are not big and in the playoffs, you are going to get a lot of physical play. Doesn't mean they are always going to lose those games, but they are going to struggle a bit with those teams. That said, where they have a problem is with physical teams that have some scoring punch. Like Boston.
Adam Silver: I don't think Adam Silver did the right thing. He simply pushed it on the owners to force him to sell. It seems like smart politics to me. He knows that Donald Sterling will not be forced out. Plus it would be nearly impossible to force our his wife who also owns the team. Most likely she will become the owner and Donald will be out.
Jerry Micco: Adam Silver cannot force Sterling to sell on his own. The owners have to take a vote on that and 3/4 must vote him out. Even then, it is murky as to whether they can force him to sell the team. This is likely going to wind up in court. Also, the NBA has said they do not want anyone in the Sterling family to own the team.
The Chief: Jerry, any chance that when the Pirates finally bring up Polanco they send Marte back down if he is still preforming the way he is currently?
Jerry Micco: I would actually be in favor of that, Chief. If he's still doing some of the things he's doing, there is no reason not to send him down. If he's got some issues with his game, Indianapolis is where he needs to work them out. They did this with Alvarez a couple of years ago and it helped him out. I don't see why Marte would get a pass.
Guest: Is casey hampton going to officially retire this summer like a bunch of guys did 2 years ago at camp?
Jerry Micco: I'm really not sure, and I'd not want to venture a guess.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, you serious can't be comparing the 1970s lineup with Clemente to the 2014 Pirates. The Pirates have two hitters that are better than the league average at their position. Three if Pedro Alvarez picks it up. So I think it is time to get McCutchen those extra at bats.
Jerry Micco: I'm thinking of Clemente in the 60s, when the Pirates were a good, but not great team. It has always been common wisdom to bat your best hitter 3rd. Why not bat him lead-off? Doesn't that guy get more ABs? Used to be you hit a guy 2nd to move the lead-off guy over if he gets on. I guess it all depends on the type of team you have. If you have the Angels or Red Sox lineup, you can hit guys in traditional spots. Hey, if it would get the Pirates more runs, I'm sure Hurdle will try just about anything.
The Chief: Jerry, the Pirates playing in Baltimore sure brings up some bad memories. Wieters and Machado would look good in Black and Gold. Oh we have Moskos (out of baseball) and Tailion !
Jerry Micco: Well, Wieters and Moskos was just a disaster. I'm not ready to say that about Taillon because he could still be a top-flight starter in this league. And those don't come along all that often. I still think having great starting pitching is the first key to contending. Doesn't mean you don't have to have some hitting, but great pitching can shut that down.
The Chief: Do you see the Sterling issue and its outcome; the Guy has billions to fight this in court, having any kind of ripple affect in the other Major Sports?
Jerry Micco: I don't think so. Owners for years have run their leagues they way they see fit. These guys are billionaires used to getting their way. Some, probably most, do care about the sport. But many just want to see how much money they can make. And if they get a bit out of line, so what? Sterling got out of line, racially in at least three public cases, and the league did nothing. So what will change? I think some owners will be more careful, perhaps, about what they say and when they say it. But that's about all.
The Chief: Other than the experience issue, do you see Robert Bortuzzo as a long term replacement for Brooks Orpik?
Jerry Micco: I see him as a possible replacement. He's physical like Orpik, but the Penguins have a lot of good, young defensemen in the minors who are highly skilled. Those guys are going to get some looks over the next few years. But a guy like Bortuzzo, like Engelland has done over the years, will have a spot somewhere because he can play a physical game.
James_Pittsburgh: I think Huntington is going to regret signing Marte for six years. There has never been a successful hitter in MLB history with a 5 K/BB ratio. The closest is Alfonso Soriano and is ratio is only 3.55 K/BB.
Jerry Micco: I think the Pirates probably got a bargain in Marte, though. If they can turn him into a 15 HR/65 RBI guy with 40 steals and he hits .285, they'd be ecstatic. And his arm is plus-plus. I don't know if they see him as a 25/90 type guy, do they?
Chunkles: Jerry, congrats to the Pens making it to round 2. I hope the Fleury critics will give the Flower a rest now that HE was the one who got them into the second round. I love Sid but where were his critics? Zero goals from the best hockey player in the NHL.
Jerry Micco: There have been many critics, especially among the fan base and those who cover the sport, that have pointed out that Crosby has been goal-less for several playoff games. That's not to say Crosby hasn't done some good things and played pretty well, but he does need to get on the score sheet with goals if the Pens are to go deeper. As for Fleury, aside from the end of Game 4, he has played very well, very solid through the first series.
James_Pittsburgh: I know the Pens have had their struggles since winning the Cup in 2009, but man, I'm glad i'm not a Sharks fan...yikes! Tonight they could blow a 3-0 series lead and their playoff struggles would continue.
Jerry Micco: The Sharks have always struggled in the playoffs. In my time as a sports editor in the Bay Area, they always went in with high hopes, only to have them crushed in some way, shape or form. And this could be an absolute disaster for them if the Kings come back from 0-3.
Mark E.: Hi Jerry. I have to agree with James re batting Cutch second. The SM say more AB and more RBI opportunities at 2 than 1 or 3. Clemente, Mays and Aaron would have been great at 1 or 9...just best (theoretically) at 2.
Jerry Micco: Then why don't managers put all of their best RBI men in the 2 hole? I mean, they all get these numbers and see them.
Chief: Jerry, we're already 30 minutes into the sports chat and not a single Steelers draft question! I think Pittsburgh has Pens fever after they got past the pesky Blue Jackets
Jerry Micco: It is the playoffs, after all. And I think the NFL has made a mistake to move the draft this late. The draft should have already happened instead of being 8 days away. You have, essentially, a month or so of non-activity and endless mock and re-mock drafts. Kind of loses its steam a bit, and as you all know, I'm a huge draft fan.
Adam Silver: Why hasn't Larry Johnson been punished for his racial comments? He does work for the Knicks "Black people your Focusing on the wrong thing. We should be focusing on having our own, Own team own League! To For Self!!--"
Jerry Micco: I do not know of this incident. And Larry Johnson doesn't own the Knicks.
Chief: I don't understand the critisism around Crosby...The guy has to face a team's #1 defenseman every single game and it many times two of their best defenseman whenever he touches the puck...lay off of Crosby, he's had plenty of assists in this first series that lead to enough goals to get past Columbus.
Jerry Micco: And that may be part of the reason Bylsma put Malkin on his other wing. And may leave him there, unless Sutter can't play. You can stop one of those two guys, but it's hard to stop both of them. Especially if you're getting a dose of them several times a game plus power plays.
Mark E.: In fairness to NBA and Stern, there really isn't much they could have done re Sterling, even with his history. His transgressions were a real estate discrimination settlement without liability and he won the Elgin Baylor case. The NBA had only rumor and innuendo...officially.
Jerry Micco: But the real estate stuff was on the record discrimination by an NBA owner. It was enough to raise a few eyebrows and to get people, you'd think, to get his attention. And the Baylor case, yes he did win it, but there was enough testimony there, again, to make you wonder what was going on inside the organization. I agree, those things alone aren't enough to throw him out of the NBA, but it's enough to make you start to ask a lot of questions. I'm not sure that happened, though.
The Chief: Jerry, regardless of if they Winn The Cup or get ousted in the 2nd round, do you feel the Penguins will get a major overhaul after the season ?
Jerry Micco: I don't think they'll get a major overhaul. I'm not sure how the cap works, but if they have to eat big contracts then maybe very little turnover. I think Orpik is gone. I'd like to think Scuderi is gone, but will they eat the rest of his deal, which is something like $12 million over 3 years? Are they going to keep Dupuis coming off injury at age 33 (or is it 34) because he's owed some big dollars, too. If they want to eat big money, they could do some big changes, but I don't see that.
Chunkles: Do you see Grilli ever returning to form after 2 injuries that interrupted his seasons? Its nice to have our depth in the bullpen so that the team can keep on pushing.
Jerry Micco: I do not. I was surprised that he was going to be the closer this year after the injury last season. I thought perhaps Morris or even Watson was being groomed for that job.
Mark E.: Reasonable question as to why managers don't follow saber-metrics data. No sport is slower to change than baseball, even with data. The entire theme of Moneyball, right?
Jerry Micco: Well, I lived Moneyball because we covered those A's when I was in California. They had to do that because their payroll was maybe the lowest in baseball. And they did draft well. Mulder, Zito, Hudson, Tejada, Sanchez, all good picks. And they spotted guys in well. Blah, blah, blah. But while they made the playoffs 4 straight years, they never made it past round 1. And blew two (that I recall) 2-0 leads in best-of-5 series. Why? Because in the long run, the teams like Red Sox and Yankees were just better. So, while I like the new metrics some, it's not the answer to everything. If guys hit and pitch like they're supposed to, you'll probably win more than you'll lose.
Mark E.: Jerry, will the Bucs record be at least .500 by the All Star break?
Jerry Micco: I think it will be. I think the hitting will come around. Just a hunch. But .500 in this division may put them in 3rd place and 10 games out.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, just curious where the 2015 Super Bowl is being played after we just had one in cold weather in NY?
Jerry Micco: Suburban Phoenix.
JamesinNYC: Shero has done a great job but hwo did he end up giving Scuderi that kind of cash? I thought the signing, person was good, but the cash was way high for a AARP defenseman.
Jerry Micco: The Penguins wanted a guy who could play in his own zone, block shots and was safe with the puck. Scuderi was all those things both here and in LA. He missed a big hunk of the year here when he broke his leg. So you have to take that into account. But he looked like his game had fallen off some even before that. He'll probably get another chance next year. And who knows, he may resurrect like Paul Martin did a couple seasons ago.
Ralph The Plumber: James Franklin looks like he has some dirt on him already. Bad hire by Penn State? Will the PG dig deeper into his indiscretions at Vandy?
Jerry Micco: Well, the district attorney in Nashville has said there is no evidence that Franklin is involved in a coverup and has been nothing but cooperative in the investigation. I guess I'd be more concerned if he were saying otherwise, wouldn't you? And the victim hasn't said anything bad about him. And he, along with Vandy, threw the players off the team immediately. Was it a good hire? I think there was a risk involved because this is an open case at Vandy. I think they vetted him very well. Could it jump up and bit PSU? Maybe. The news is going to happen in Nashville as far as possible trials. We'll obviously ask our questions to PSU people and Franklin in State College. Any news comes out, we'll cover it.
Mark E.: Agree re Grilli not returning to last year's form. Too bad, he's a great story. Guessing CH will not make the move to someone else til after the break. Who is the favorite, as of today at least?
Jerry Micco: Melancon will close, at least for a while.
Mel Jr: Jerry my latest mock draft has the Steelers selecting Clinton Ha Ha Dixon because he will be there
Jerry Micco: Maybe, but the Rams may take him, too. I think the Steelers will back off of safety and go CB or WR. But we'll see who's there at 15.
Chief: Do we have enough of a sample size to assume the Brewers are the front runners in the NL Central this year? They did lose their most recent series with the Cardinals 2 games to 1.
Jerry Micco: I think the Brewers will come back to the pack by mid-June. I just don't see that pitching holding up for that long. Maybe I'll be wrong, but I don't think so.
Guest: Since we are cleaning up the sports owners whats the chance we can clean up the players who get second chances for much worse behavior. Vick-Rice to bring up 2 of hundreds.
Jerry Micco: Michael Vick served time in prison. Once you do your debt to society, you get another chance. Ray Rice has not been convicted of anything yet. We are all too quick to place guilt before conviction. This happens too fast in our society these days. Doesn't mean at team can't suspend someone if they are charged, etc., but can we at least have some sort of trial?
The Chief: Ok Jerry, who you got in the Flyers/Rangers at The Garden tonight?
Jerry Micco: I like the Rangers in overtime, 3-2.
JamesinChernobyl: What is the read on Pitt Football this year since losing Savage, should we expect much of the same from the 2014 performance?
Jerry Micco: Voytik is going to be pretty good, but I'm concerned about both OL and DL, I think their secondary is going to be much better and their RBs will be strong. Tyler Boyd is special, and excellent player. If they can get him the ball as many times as they can, he will be a real force on offense.
Mark E.: Great point re A's record while using Moneyball metrics. I would say the BoSox are best example of metrics meeting available purchased talent. SM aren't the end all but likely provide a slight edge that can make a difference. Look at the success of shifts today vs the scoffing by mgrs just two or three years ago.
Jerry Micco: The Pirates used those shifts last year to great advantage. I think this is why all teams should at least look at these numbers and see how they can use them to make their teams better. I think most of them do that, but what they really want is for their best players to play to their abilities all the time.
Mat: It is hard to believe that PNC park is 13 years old. Where do you rank it to other ballparks?
Jerry Micco: Still would rank it as No. 1. Beautiful park in a beautiful setting.
James_Pittsburgh: Will the Pirates try to sign a shortstop this offseason?
Jerry Micco: If one is available, they should try, but they aren't going to break the bank to do it.
Mark E.: Jerry, could not agree more with your comments about our tendency to rush to judgment. And, always with such OUTRAGE!!! We love to take down celebrities.
Jerry Micco: I'm on Twitter, and I do listen (some) to sports talk radio. The growth of both has given a lot of people huge platforms for outrage without some of the introspection that is needed for larger issues that may emerge from the acts causing said outrage. It's easy to say you are against racism, sexism, etc. But what are the reasons for that? And what are the causes of it? How can you use the platform to address that and maybe have a discussion of ways we can try to drive it from our society?
Jerry Micco: OK, James_Pittsburgh disagrees with my sabremetrics statement. I'll give him the last word. Here it is:
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I think you are wrong about sabermetrics. The A's didn't win a World Series because they only signed the players that no one wanted(Some of the best sabermetrics players were on the Red Sox). That does not mean that the best sabermetric plays were available or that the A's could afford them.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get to some other things. Thanks for an excellent chat and for taking the time to talk with me this week. I'll see you at noon next Wednesday where we'll do it all again. Until then, have a great week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco