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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Bring back Jaromir Jagr

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> This is my Wednesday column, entitled “Bring back Jaromir Jagr.”

The headline speaks for itself, I guess, but I’ll be interested to hear your feedback on the actual content. My sincere hope is that even people with deep preset feelings on the topic enter with an open mind. I’d imagine there was an entire generation of Penguins fans who know nothing more about Jagr than that they were supposed to boo him every time he touched the puck, even though they might not have known why. Jagr’s history here — the whole history — deserves more than that.

Above all, though, the point I make is that Jagr can help the 2011-12 Penguins. And that should be management’s primary concern, as well.

>> If you’re one of those who booed Jagr, this is required viewing.

>> Jagr could return, and so could Plaxico Burress?

We’ll see on both counts, obviously, but Ben Roethlisberger has been in touch with Burress and added that it would be “awesome” if he returned to the Steelers.

I’m not anywhere close to being sold on that idea. And never mind Burress’ off-field issues. (If it wasn’t for mandatory sentencing in New York, no one would even remember what he did wrong.) Rather, I’m not sure I’d prioritize wide receiver when I’ve got Mike Wallace as one of the best big-play guys in the league, Hines Ward still being some version of Hines Ward, and two pretty promising youngsters in Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.

Whatever money the Steelers can spend needs to go toward people who can cover wide receivers, not to another receiver.

>> Give Charlie Morton a break. And I mean that literally: Great move by the Pirates to skip his start, providing a chance to catch his breath and, more important, get the zip back in that arm.

That said, give him a break figuratively, too. The fuss kicked up yesterday over Morton skipping a start, you’d think the Pirates didn’t have two off-days coming up in the next two days. They do. And someone was going to get skipped, anyway. Might as well have it be the guy who’s struggling the most. Last time this happened on the schedule, Jeff Karstens was skipped. Not doing that now.

>> Little stuff that can get lost in a box score: Chris Resop not only gave the Pirates 1 1/3 very timely scoreless innings, but he also threw all 14 of his pitches for strikes. Doesn’t happen often with a number that high.

Resop appears to be regaining his April form.

>> My hope is to get over to the yard for the matinee today. But I’ll be checking in here all day regardless, for discussion on … well, whatever you want.


  1. CDBrewer says:


    We would remember what Plax did because he shot himself!!
    Without trying to get into any kind of political thing, if it weren’t so scary how prevelant guns are on the streets of cities (and yes, in classrooms too), it is HILARIOUS he shot HIMSELF in the thigh.
    If he hadn’t done a day in jail we would remember he is the moron who shot himself dancing…the bizarro Hines in so many ways.

  2. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    There are multiple layers to the Jagr situation.

    There’s his personal story about wanting to come back and prove himself again.

    There’s the unique scenario of having three icons — Jagr-Lemieux-Crosby — all part of the franchise at the same time. I know Lemieux doesn’t play but he’s still like the Father, Son and Holy Ghost looking on, always around. If nothing else, it would create a lot of buzz heading into the season, after a bummer finish last year.

    But really when you just look at it in terms of hockey, Jagr does seem like a good fit, a good piece to the puzzle for a team that is absolutely going for the Stanley Cup next year.

    I don’t follow hockey as much as I do baseball or football, there are a lot more educated hockey fans and gurus on here than I am, but I would think even for his age Jagr would be better than most of the other options out there. I could be wrong about that, I really haven’t looked too closely at which players are available.

  3. dwh0401 says:

    Would Crosby and Malkin be fighting over what line he plays on? :) I love the idea of bringing him back. Trying to temper my excitement because I think the other 2 teams may be willing to pay more. Unless Mario orders Shero to pay him above value. What would it take? 2-3mil?

  4. JMB says:

    Well, that was a nice win last night!

    OTOH, Carlos Pena is heating up, and LO remains cold. The window to cheaply trade for him is closing fast!

    Would the Pirates be in 1st if they had just signed CP this offseason? $5M more could have been the difference between 1st and 4th on June 22nd.

    CP is now .8 fWAR, LO is -.7 fWAR. CP is 1.5 fWAR better than LO.

    CP UZR .7, LO UZR -5.9, so all of this LO is a good / better fielder talk is ludicrous.

  5. SeanE says:

    DK. Sorry I can’t get past the gun issue with Plax and can’t believe the Steelers will either. The guy brought a loaded gun into a crowded nightclub. The gun then went off and he shot himself in the thigh. What if that bullet had hit someone else? The monumental stupidity of that action leads me to believe the Steelers wouldn’t touch him with a 10 foot pole.

  6. BuccoJax says:

    Burress returning to the Steelers is just unnecessary. Why bring the drama? Last year was enough for Steeler Nation to handle and we just don’t need more bad press! Sure it’s possible Burress could be the comeback story of the year, but somehow I don’t see it happening. The Steelers have 2 top notch starting receivers (Hines/Wallace) and 2 young receivers with alot of career ahead of them (BrownSanders). The team doesn’t miss Plax, and they don’t need him.

    I don’t follow the Pens as much as I would like, so I apologize if this a common knowledge kind of statement, but isn’t Jagr near his 40’s? Hockey is a brutal sport, would he be worth more than a year….maybe two?

    Last night was one of the best games of baseball, I’ve seen the Pirates play. They didn’t win with the long ball, they won with timely hits strung together and great defense. This is how this team needs to win all year. They are not a lineup of power hitters, and truthfully we are kidding ourselves that they ever will be.

  7. Curt says:

    I live outside of the Baltimore area and decided to watch the MASN crew instead of our Root crew. They kept talking about how McDonald’s confidence and demeanor changed drastically from the first inning and it noticeably changed his outing. Do you think that’s what holding him back, just having the confidence in his stuff and delivery?

  8. JMB says:

    I have complained many times about Nutting (and would still prefer Cuban), but, in reading about McCourt, and to a lesser extent Loria-Marlins, I am glad we dont have either of these d-bags as the owner of our team.

  9. JAL says:


    Indeed, could do worse than Nutting, also look at Wilpon and the Mets.

  10. Baywatch says:

    Curt, I think you make an interesting point about JMac and his confidence. He seems very, very shy in front of the camera. I realize we have to factor in personality differences with all these young men but wondered early on if confidence might be something that would be an issue with him. I think PARTICULARLY a pitcher suffers if he doesn’t have confidence. Confidence and focus. But on the other hand I don’t think it would be too good to be overly confident. I think he said after last night’s game that he could be his own “worst enemy” at times. Hope he gets straightened out as from a STUFF standpoint, I’d say he sits at the top of our rotation.

  11. JAL,
    “Indeed, could do worse than Nutting, also look at Wilpon and the Mets.”

    Saying that is like saying Nutting is the best looking girl at Fat Camp.

    Kevin McClatchy was a passionate owner who had no money and was not a baseball man.
    Bob Nutting is a dispassionate owner who has money but goes into his vault about as often as Jack Benny or Scrooge McDuck. He as well is certainly not a baseball man.

    I prefer McClatchy’s involvement. At least he tried.

  12. Isn’t it interesting that our “Waiver Wire’ pick-ups——Chris Resop, Xavier Paul, Brandon Wood, along with minor league free agent signing Garrett Jones——have contributed more than our Free Agent signees Diaz and Overbay.
    We get better results from ‘dumpster jumping’ than through honest talent evaluation.

    I am very concerned about the scout(s) who looked at Aki, Vazquez, Overbay, Diaz, Church, Kim, Dusty Brown, Argenis Diaz.

    That being said: a win today puts us back at .500!!!

  13. 666887 says:

    Let’s take this discussion away from the mediocre Buccos for a second.
    BRING BACK 68. That would be an amazing team. Where are all the Pens and Steeler fans on these threads? Overtake the mediocrity! There are two high level teams in this town! When the Buccos can regularly make the playoffs and we talk about having 1, 2, or 3 of the best players in the game on the team, then I’ll listen. Its fun for now to be mediocre, I guess, but geez people. The Penguins are all-world.

  14. CDBrewer says:


    I agree wholeheartedly about our scouting.

    I would say this about the dumpster diving vs free agency: this regime has stated a bunch of times that they play for bounce back, or rebound years. So I think Aki, Overbay, and Vasquez fall into a “take the good and take the bad” category of risk because sometimes a down year indicates nothing more than FINISHED or TOO OLD. If they miss on a vet here or there who is designed to be a clubhouse pro and is just too old, I can live with that so long as they keep creating something from nothing (last 2 years it was the pen).

  15. Fat Jimmy says:

    Groat, I will take some issue with your assertion that “Nutting has money”. I don’t think he does. He’s in the same business as McClatchey, but smaller scale. The Nutting’s have more money that you or I (likely), but they are not wealthy by owners’ standards.

    Also, while McClatchey was more visible than Nutting, keep in mind that McClatchey is the author of the singular worst decision in the history of the PBC. After taking over the team (in 1997, I believe), he immediately slashed the MLB payroll, but — more importantly — slashed the minor league payroll. That decision immediately destroyed our talent pipeline and the franchise has never recovered. The losing streak was 5 years old at that time, but I think it is fair to attribute the following 13 years to that one decision.

  16. Fat Jimmy says:

    CDBrewer, great post to lead off today.

    I disagree with Dejan and most of you on Burress and the state of the Steelers WR corp. We have “solid” WRs, but we have only 1 guy that is a difference maker (Wallace). Ward is past his prime and is a 3rd receiver at best. Brown and Sanders are solid, but unspectacular, talents and not the type of guys you build a passing offense around.

    We have a world class QB. We need to surround him with difference makers at WR. Plax was that type of receiver once. Is he still? That’s unknown, but if he can still run, then he would help the offense considerably.

    As for his transgressions, I’m usually unforgiving when it comes to bad behavior. But Plax lost two years of his life … that was utter nonsense. Spare me the platitudes about how dangerous guns are. His ACTIONS did not merit the lose of two years of his life to jail. He deserved a month in jail, two years of parole, and hefty fines and community service. Not two years in jail. Absurd. We shouldn’t have ever let Plax leave and I would love to have him back!

  17. Fat Jimmy says:

    Dejan, that was a very cool column you wrote this morning. I was very much opposed to the idea of bringing Jagr back, and your column almost swayed me.

    Almost. :-)

  18. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Jimmy: Whether it swayed you or not, I appreciate that.

  19. Gordo Diego,
    While I agree that Kevin McClatchy’s slashing of the Minor Leagues was a more detrimental and far-reaching decision, I give a pass because I don’t think he made that as a baseball decision. He had no capitalization. He made decisions totally based on money. He had none.
    If you recall, city could get no one to buy the team. McClatchy would never have gained control if anyone who had $ would have stepped up. He had a good heart but empty pockets (he had separated himself from McClatchy Newspapers when he came here, so he had no other stream of income.) He tried to turn the team around on hope, and trusting Cam Bonifay/David Littlefield.
    Some people drive clunkers because they cannot afford a new car . . . McClatchy had no money left to run the team correctly: that’s why he pushed so much for revenue sharing. One could say that, although he put poor ballclubs on the field, his lasting legacy is PNC Park (wonderful) and the $40 million a year Nutting gets in revenue sharing before he sells one ticket.
    Of course, McClatchy’s worst decision, other than not allowing water or coffee to be brought into PNC, was to allow the Big Bad Wolf in the back door via loans, which eventually allowed Fat Girl Nutting to become majority owner, via unpaid interest owed on those original loans.
    And Nutting showed great respect for McClatchy by saying through his subsequent actions, “Don’t let the door hit you in your backside on your way out!”

  20. JAL says:


    Good to see you ole buddy. Didn’t mean Nutting is a good owner, only that some are worse. Pirate plight is not just money, it years of poor draft picks.

  21. JAL says:

    Pirate lineup today

    Tabata 7
    Harrison 5
    McCutchen 8
    Walker 4
    Diaz 9
    Jones 3
    Wood 6
    McKenry 2
    Correia 1

  22. SeanE says:

    Glad to see McKenry back in there. While he has struggled with the bat, he has been a very nice surprise with his defensive abilities and has done a solid job handling the staff. Good move so far by NH picking him up for next to nothing. Solid upgrade over Brown. Also starting to get the sense that the guy is getting a little bit more comfortable in his surroundings. Hopefully this will make his bat play a little better. He certainly has a decent offensive track record in the minors.

  23. Fat Jimmy says:

    Groat, when you get to the owners-box level, everything is a combination of both a baseball and business decision.

    In the days that McClatchey slashed the minor league budget, the cost of signing minor leaguers was no where near today’s cost. While his decision to cut the ML payroll to ~$9 million may have been necessary because he was undercapitalized, his decision to cut the minor league budget was relatively unnecessary. He could have maintained that budget and cut more elsewhere. But he didn’t. He cut off the lifeblood of the team.

    It’s fun to mock Nutting. He’s from West Virginia (instant hilarity). He lives off of daddy’s money. He’s maintained a low ML payroll. He’s got a mysterious brother, Bill, who may or may not look like Sloth from The Goonies. He leaves the top several buttons on his shirt undone, as if he was David Freakin Hasslehoff.

    But he is slightly undercapitalized, too, as a ML owner. And, truthfully, we don’t know for certain whether or not he will step up to the plate as an owner when the time is right, because the team hasn’t yet given him an opportunity. If the Pirates can win a few more games this month, it will be interesting to see how they respond financially in July. Other things like whether or not they get Josh Bell (#2 pick) signed will continue to show Nutting’s true colors.

  24. SeanE says:

    @Fat Jimmy. Excellent points all on the ownership issues. Agree completely that Nutting in undercapitalized as an owner.

    I would not put much stock into whether they sign Josh Bell however. Bell has said numerous times that he is going to college. Many insiders have said that he wouldn’t even sign for top 10 $. IF this is true then it is not a poor reflection on ownership if they do not get him signed. It was a gamble that did not pay off and they get a compensatory pick next year.

    That said, what is the logic for a kid like Bell not to sign if the Pirates are willing to pony up top 10 $? Call me crazy, but isn’t the purpose of college to prepare one for lifes work and get a job. To me it is a BIG risk to go to college, risk an injury and get little $. You can always go back to school. You can’t go back to baseball.

  25. Fat Jimmy says:

    Yeah, Sean, let me rephrase: how GENEROUS they get in their pursuit of Josh Bell will speak volumes about Nutting. I agree. If they come to him with a $6 million signing bonus and he turns it down, there is no fault in the FO. And, in fact, it would be a testament to them.

    But I do hope they come strong with him.

    And, I also agree with you on the last point, I have never understood why anyone would go back to school. Despite what some people say, college is not mandatory for your life’s pursuit. College is a means to create a better life for yourself. If you have the ability to play professional baseball (or football or basketball, etc.) and make a good life for yourself, college isn’t necessary. And, like you said, you can always go back.

    I’m holding out hope that Bell is just using the college schtick as leverage for a better contract.

  26. SeanE says:

    The fact that the family has retained Boras as an “advisor” tells me that there must be some interest in signing-otherwise why reatin Boras at all. Totally agree the proof will be in the pudding so to speak. They did it last year with Allie so my gut tells me they will do so again with Bell.

  27. Josh says:

    Great column…been a longtime fan of DK’s writing and followed him from the PG. Great to get his thoughts on more than just the Pirates.

    I love the idea of Jagr coming back…not only can he help the Pens win, but would be a fitting end to correct the bitter divorce. I appreciate the reference to 1999 in the column. Would be amazing to bring him back, win the cup, and retire #68 in Pittsburgh where it belongs.

  28. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Josh: Thanks on all counts. Good to hear from you again. Been a while.

  29. pghboyinca says:

    Love the Jager idea, he fits a glaring need and is no the immature , selfish player he once was. He makes this team much more dangerous by being a member of it.

  30. TS says:

    Maybe Jagr would be a helpful infusion of offensive firepower. Maybe. But I think he’s still a potential cancer in the locker room. And I don’t think a class act like Sidney Crosby wants, or should have to, deal with that.

  31. Matt says:

    Loved the Jagr piece and glad you have left the dark side at PG. I was at Jagr’s 21 st BD party at sports garden with newly drafted Marty Straka and wasn’t hearing any booing in those days! Agree he could be a true asset on power play as well as selectively put onto Crosby line when in need of offense.

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