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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Chat transcript: Let them win, or let them be fired

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

The chat transcript gets into the Penguins’ line changes, the Steelers’ bickering, the Pirates’ failure and other topics of the day. Thanks to all who participated!

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Milo Hamilton says:

    I know it’s asking a lot but couldn’t we have “Let them win AND let them be fired” ?

  2. LuckyNKentucky says:

    POTD nominee.

  3. Bizrow says:

    Like, like, like, all of the above

  4. Arriba Wilver says:

    Sign me up!

  5. JAL says:

    Now why would you fire a winner, hope none of you are CEOs as you fire fire your good staff. Or is it just the silly season?

  6. Naje says:

    Well said, JAL.

    But also well said is how DK put his thoughts on the management team into a succinct, clear sentiment. About sums up the reality of the PBC front office for 2013.

  7. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Define winner, per PBC dictionary, please.

  8. JAL says:


    Depends on the person, to some it would finishing over .500 while to others it would be staying in playoff contention into late September while to others it would be making the playoffs.

  9. JAL says:

    Also, Dejan made the Let Them Win or Be Fired so he would be the one to ask what he meant by win.

  10. LuckyNKentucky says:


  11. JMB says:

    It’s simple.

    The team starts off slow; Nutting cleans house by June 1st. He hires some interim guys, and the team catches fire: We dump these current dudes, and we win!

    It would basically be a reverse of the last two seasons.

  12. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Sounds great to me. Best scenario I’ve heard yet.

  13. NMR says:

    Honest question, Lucky. Why?

    Why wouldn’t you be happy winning WITH Huntington?

  14. JAL says:

    Why not just start fast and keep winning–reverse of last two seasons still ends up nowhere. So they fall 16 below .500 then rebound to 3 games under–whopee

  15. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think you inserted yourself into the discussion, JAL, by asking “Now why would you fire a winner, hope none of you are CEOs as you fire fire your good staff. Or is it just the silly season?”

    So how do you define a “winner” for that statement?

  16. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Not fond of double-tongued folks, NMR. He gives the same reasons for keeping some players that he did for trading others. Ex. Jack Wilson/Clint Barmes among some of his other antics.

    I could live with him if winning means winning. We should have already had the 82 wins. That is a step, but not a goal for a win-starved franchise and fan base.

  17. NMR says:

    Do you remember how long it took Terry Ryan to produce a winning season in Minnesota?

  18. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Also, what kind of a creep and hypocrite says about his own ballclub, most of which except the good one, are his players to the media:

    “We weren’t really that good to be 16 over”?

    I would have fired his arse when he made that statement, but it ain’t my money.

  19. NMR says:

    Except that’s not at all what he said, Lucky.

    “As we’ve tried to evaluate metrically how we’ve gotten here, you look at the numbers and we weren’t supposed to be 16 games over .500. We should have been closer to eight (games), which is still progress.”

  20. NMR says:

    If anything, he was covering for his team. He literally called the collapse bad luck, in the same exact quote.

    “What’s happened since Aug. 1, batting averages on balls in play have plummeted for our hitters and increased for our pitchers, especially with runners in scoring position. It doesn’t mean it’s bad luck, but … yes, it means it’s bad luck.”

  21. NMR says:

    You’re gonna call the guy a creep? For that?


  22. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Good points, NMR, as always. I just don’t believe he’s competent and I’m not that fond of him. Like I said, I could live with him if we win and he doesn’t have his face up there taking the credit for it.

    Cutch and Walker are arguably our best players and he didn’t draft either. To him, Walker was a utility man.

    Pedro, A.J. and some of the others he can take credit for.

  23. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Creep was a little harsh. I apologize for that slur. Hypocrite I’ll stay with.

  24. Patrick says:

    Meh…he has been called worse than ‘creep’. And anyone that tells lies of ommission and/or half-truths can easily be quantified as a creep.

    I prefer to call him a festering jackwagon of incompetence.

  25. JAL says:

    Defined above but not my insertion–Let them win, or let them be fired indicates a winner by any criteria as does Let them win AND let them be fired. If one wins(their word) they are a winner so I ask again why would anyone fire a winner other than for breaking rules or doing something illegal. If NH and Hurdle had been fired after last season it would have sense but to fire them after they produce a winner doesn’t. Maybe it is just group think going on because it makes no logical sense.

  26. Bizrow says:

    Its not like we’d be firing the 1927 Yankees front office.

    I’m a died in the wool, lifelong fan, I sleep and eat better when they win.

    Slick Frank just is not who I want to be the face of my franchise.

    NH? Just annoying, but if we start being successful, he has done the job.

    SF COOOONNNELLLY has IMO provided no value or input to much of anything.

  27. Patrick says:

    And I wouldnt give him to much credit for AJ. Id give more credit to the other 28 GM’s that passed on him before he fell into NH’s lap.

  28. NMR says:

    It just seems odd to me that in this hypothetical, where Huntington brings winning baseball to Pittsburgh for the first time in 20 years, people STILL want to fire him because he isn’t likeable.

    This is the same town that cheers for Roethlesberger and Harrison, right?

  29. Patrick says:

    NH would be a good scout. Specifically for ML pitchers. As a GM he has been sub-par. But then with all things PBC it is difficult to judge when the ecnomics skew the ability to compare apples to apples.

    FC should be working car washes. I would be hesitant to let him park cars.

  30. NMR says:

    No sense giving John Mozeliak, Cardinals GM, any credit for his ’09 draft. Right Patrick?

    After all, the other 29 GM’s passed on those late round pitchers. They just fell into his lap.

    Talk about hypocrisy.

  31. Kevin says:

    Still upset about that game last night. I know its just a regular season loss. But, in a shortened season, that game could be big. Could be the difference between 1st and 4th for example.

  32. 21sthebest says:

    I’ve wanted Frank fired for 3 years and Neal for 2. But Frank is the face of the franchise? How many outside of Pittsburgh can name the President of the Pirates? Can you name the President and CEO of the Giants?

  33. Patrick says:

    How well his draft picks perform this year will go a long way in determining his merits as a GM. If By August Tailion and or Cole are getting pummeled in Indy or down in AA again….well…you would almost HAVE to fire him. After that many high picks and that much $$ spent on the draft to get almost nothing in return is simply unacceptable. Regardless of how the big club performs.

  34. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think you’re still avoiding the question. Is a “winner” 82-80? Is a salesmanager who has underperformed for 5 years, but in his make or break year just meeting the minimum criteria for sales, a “winner” who shouldn’t be fired? I just think your comment is overly simplistic. For me, I have no confidence in the guys above Clint for the long term. If they miraculously barely break .500 this year, that won’t change my opinion. But I’m not a CEO.

  35. Patrick says:

    Games with philly are never, EVER just a regular season game. 99.9% of the time the phrase “it’s just one game” is correct.

    Flyers games are the .1%.

  36. 21sthebest says:

    If the big league team is doing well and Taillon and/or Cole are getting pummeled in the minors, Huntington is not getting fired.

  37. NMR says:

    Now the minors matter?

    It’s not just good enough to win in the majors?

  38. Patrick says:

    The draft is alot different than FA pickups and you know it. judging HS and college kids is by orders of magnitude more complex than 10 year vets. Even Mozeliak passed on his late round picks.When you succeed and find quality over, and over and over (like the Cardinals always do) then it isn’t luck.

    NH isn’t Mozeliak. He got lucky on AJ. If he does that a few more times…then I’ll give him some credit.I fail to see how that is being hypocritical.

  39. Kevin says:

    Well… that game was definitely a 0.1%’er. I usually enjoy watching penguins hockey. That game was just torture. Especially the last goal.

  40. Nate83 says:

    Differant times require differant explanations. When Jack was traded he was in the last year of his contract and the team was not close to competing. He needed to get something in return for him. If the Pirates stink the first half of this year but Barmes is decent he will be traded just like Wilson. The team is much more likely to be competative this year then they were 4 years ago.

    I think it is completely reasonable for philosophy to change based on situation. Yes he gets very defensive and usually says one too many things. I agree with that completely. No comment is a perfectly acceptable answer.

  41. Patrick says:

    Well lets be honest: If the Pirates win 70+ games nobody in the FO is going anywhere. I suppose all of this should have been prefaced with the statement “If I owned the Pirates…”

    But then if that was true I would have bagged them both last October.

  42. NMR says:

    Ridiculous, Patrick.

    Huntington identified a struggling player needing a change of scenery, got him for less than nothing, and turned out to be a huge success.

    There was nothing lucky about it.

  43. Bizrow says:

    21, your question, and a good one, speaks volumes about what Slick Frank represents. To me, he should be the face or a big face of the franchise. He’s failed on that.

  44. Patrick says:


    Hey…hey…*Poke *poke

  45. Arriba Wilver says:

    I heard Neal’s statements you quoted above “live” on the radio, and he was NOT, NOT, NOT covering for his players. That was the Greg Brown show where the whole point of the show was “don’t fire Neal or you will have to start over.” To quote those without that context is proving the adage about using statistics.

    By the way, I don’t agree with the idea that Neal is a lyer or a scumbag. I just don’t think he’s an adequate GM for the Pirates in the market they are in.

  46. Bizrow says:

    Maybe he could park cars, but be sure that all the valuables are out of the car. ;-)

    Also be sure to pat your wallet if you are ever in the same room with him.

  47. NMR says:

    So now we’re back to DK’s original comment?

    Let them win or let them get fired.

    The man’s a genius.

  48. Patrick says:

    It was lucky only because AJ was offered to a dozen other teams and none of them wanted to touch him. NH was hardly the first person Cashman thought of when he wanted to dump him. The failure of the other GMs around the league is not something NH should get credit for. Its not like NH approached NY, or somehow wrangled him away from another interested bidder. Ill give him credit for standing his ground and getting absolute rock bottom price for him and not giving up much talent, but its not like he talked the Yankees out of their best asset. In another week AJ would have been on Craig’s list.

  49. Arriba Wilver says:

    Heard a great call in to the Fan a little earlier. A guy called in, presumably serious, and commented that the Steelers and Penguins spend a lot of money on their players, but for him, he likes the Pirates and thinks they are doing things the right way. One of the comments was “now there’s a guy who when his kid comes home with a C- paper he puts it up on the fridge.” :-)

  50. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Yeah, let’s talk Cardinals and Pirates in the same breath. I have a Caddy and a Cavalier. Which one would be the Pirates?

    I have an old Dodge pickup if you prefer to substitute for the now defunct Cavalier. :P

  51. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Agreed. He’s laughing his head off at us bantering about this, you can count on it.

  52. Thundercrack says:

    I prefer that the President of my favorite team not be the face of the franchise. Just as 21 noted, who knows or cares who the President of the Giants?

    David Morehouse is great, but I wouldn’t call him the face of the Pens.

    This is one of the reasons that I am not fond of some one like Mark Cuban or Jerry Jones.

  53. JAL says:

    No I did not avoid anything. Linguistically Win and be fired carries no number–they could go 82-80, 92-70 or 102- 60 that would call for firing them which is senseless.

  54. Nate83 says:

    Lucky, Walker was a utility player to any GM that took over. The guy had fallen off of all prospect list.

    Nutting actually said today when aske about finishing above .500 “If that had been the goal, honestly, Neal would have gone about his work the last five years very differently,We could have patched pieces together for a short-term blip to pop us over .500. I’m glad we didn’t do it because I think what we did was the responsible and correct things for the long term of the franchise.”

    I hate to tell you this but that sounds like a boss that is on board with the direction the team is going. I can’t imagine a scenerio where the front office is gone before August.

  55. Arriba Wilver says:


  56. Patrick says:

    OK fine. What is an acceptable record to retain him? What is they lose 90 games? Do we keep them? If they win their 82nd game should NH be given an extension?

    I don’t understand why you are surprised so many people would fire NH. Its all what-ifs anyways. We all know unless they lose 100 games none of them are going anywhere….

  57. LuckyNKentucky says:


    I’ll be the happiest guy in the Commonwealth of KY if they win. I don’t care who the GM is. But really win, not some lame, sneak into the last wild card slot thing.

  58. Arriba Wilver says:

    “Lucky, Walker was a utility player to any GM that took over. The guy had fallen off of all prospect list.”

    Revisionist history. Walker was the the #61 prospect listed by Baseball America when Neal took over.
    Check Baseball Reference. Neal’s supporters would call a #61 prospect today evidence that Neal knows what he’s doing.

  59. JAL says:

    But if really want what I consider a winner it is staying in playoff contention into the last week of the season

  60. Arriba Wilver says:

    “Now why would you fire a winner, hope none of you are CEOs as you fire fire your good staff. Or is it just the silly season?”

  61. NMR says:

    So Huntington deserves no credit for being smarter than those other GMs and betting on Burnett?

    None at all, Patrick?


    I’ll bet my paycheck that you would be all over him if another team picked up AJ instead and it was later leaked that NH had the opportunity and turned it down.

    I garuntee you no Braves fans are calling Frank Wren “lucky” for getting Justin Upton.

  62. JohninOshkosh says:

    Groat: if you are lurking, the Bucks traded for JJ Redick today at the deadline. Now have two of your fellow Dukies (Dunleavy) on the club. Duke is invading SE Wisconsin!

    Got home and was watching the MLB Network. Noticed that the “Key Moves” scroll at the bottom of the screen did not include the resigning of Karstens when the Pittsburgh scroll went by.

  63. Thundercrack says:

    The Neal Walker debate – love it and hate it all at the same time.

    Yes, the FO said he seemed like a utility guy.
    But he had just bounced from catcher (because DL thought Paulino would be the catcher of the future) to third base. And he wasn’t doing great in the minors at the time.

    But what I can’t understand is why anyone cares about that now. As I’ve stated before if Walker wins the MVP Award do you think Nutting is going to call NH into his office and fire him because he had originally projected him as a utility player?

    Hey, they might have said that Cutch would be a great base stealer and be a below average home run hitter. They would have gotten that one wrong too.

    If you want to get on him for Jose Bautista or maybe even Brandon Moss, go ahead—-because those guys are not on the Pirates anymore! Walker is a Pirate!

  64. LuckyNKentucky says:


  65. Arriba Wilver says:

    Hey, I just get tired of hearing that Walker was on his way out of baseball before Neal took over. And every time it comes up Walker gets worse. You know I strive for accuracy, TC. ;-)

  66. Bizrow says:

    I would expect an honorable, likeable, dignified and honest guy in that position.

    If he is not a leader or a face of the franchise one can respect, what good is he?

    I think you all know what I am saying, forget “the” aspect of the face ;-)

  67. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Walker is a Pirate, thank heaven and where is Argensis Diaz or whatever his name is?

  68. Drew71 says:

    Lyer Lyer
    Pants on Fyer, Arriba.

  69. Drew71 says:

    And where is Perry Hill? Seriously. Somebody wake Thunder and ask him.

  70. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Not coach in the “Burgh” for sure.

  71. Drew71 says:

    I’ve been thinking about this all evening.

    How does one misspell two letters in a four letter word?

  72. Thundercrack says:

    Well played Drew. Now go jump in the Tampa bay

  73. Arriba Wilver says:


  74. Arriba Wilver says:

    Fuzz off! :-P

  75. Nate83 says:


    What was he the year before and then the year after. He was heading in the wrong direction. Being incorrect and a liar are two completely different things.

  76. Nate83 says:


    The revisionist history is you I believe. Walker was ranked that high in 2007 before the season began. He had a bad year and dropped out of the top 100. He had already been moved to third before NH started and had dropped from the top prospect in the system to number 6 before he played one game for NH to out of the top 10 all together 1 year later. Not exactly the type of player GM’s would consider an everyday player.

  77. Arriba Wilver says:

    Nate, I apologize for how that came out on the blog. I was not referring to you as a “liar,” but trying to correct my misspelling in my immediately preceding post. That’s what I thought the “*” indicated, and I hadn’t refreshed to see your comment. I definitely wasn’t calling you a liar or lyer. Sorry for the implication otherwise.

    Don’t know where Neil was prospect wise after he was #61, but the year before he was #74.

  78. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m going by, as I indicated in my earlier post, Baseball Reference.

    Going from memory, he was considered a good 3B defensively, but there was no place for him there with drafting Pedro out of college. I’m not saying he was a top prospect when Neal came; I’m just saying that he was hardly the bag of balls that Neal’s supporters like to claim.

  79. Pucknutz says:

    “Let them win or let them be fired”

    How does ya fire the OWNER ?

  80. Nate83 says:


    No biggie. My fault on the misunderstanding.

  81. JohninOshkosh says:

    Alert the beer distributors and KFC in Fairfield, Connecticut, Bobby Valentine, of all people, to be named Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University.

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