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Cigarettes, stats and other changes you notice on the Indians beat
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto is covering the Indians in Tampa this week and learns much has changed since he was a beat writer in the 1980's
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says he last covered the Indians as a beat reporter in the early 1980's, when players, like the Mets' Keith Hernandez (pictured), were still smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee in the dugout.
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WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto is learning this week just how different major league baseball is from 30 years ago. The Plain Dealer columnist is handling the Indians beat on the road. And the series in Tampa marks the first time he’s done that since he was the Indians beat writer for the Plain Dealer in the early 1980’s. He talks to Amanda Rabinowitz about what's changed and what's remained the same.

Terry Pluto talks about life as an Indians beat reporter then and now

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Terry Pluto talks memories with Tribe closer Chris Perez

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Waiting to hit 'send'
Baseball beat writers face one constant: tight deadlines. And Terry Pluto says he learned this week that hasn’t changed much in the 30 years he’s been away from the Indians beat.

So he wrote his story of the Indians 3-2 win over the Rays long before the game ended Monday night, and waited to hit the send button until he was sure the score and his conclusion – that the Indians got great relief pitching – held.

He held onto a similar story back in 1997 -- for months. It was the one that had the Indians winning Game 7 of the World Series. Only they didn’t. Jose Mesa blew it, the Marlins won 3-2 in the 11th, and Pluto rewrote his story.

No more cigarettes and coffee in the dugout 
Still, that team came a lot closer than the Indians teams Pluto covered in the early 1980s, when injured players sat in the dugout smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee during batting practice. Back then, he recalls, most players eschewed workouts with weights, buying the conventional wisdom that extra muscles “will mess up your swing or mess up your arm.”

Now, he says, weight training is a given.

Stats now the norm
Major League teams make sure beat writers are supplied with reams of them, sheets that match up pitchers-hitters, lefties-rights, late innings, on the road, even the weather.

Pluto started out covering Baltimore, and says then-Manager Earl Weaver was the first to value stats and use them in planning his game.

So when Pluto came to Northeast Ohio, he asked Manager Dave Garcia about his stats. The response:

“I just kind of remember and say, ‘I think that boy’s going to get a hit today.’”

Headphones and card games
Pluto says one thing that hasn’t changed is that baseball is a waiting game. Players get to the clubhouse by mid-afternoon. And that leaves them plenty of time for a snooze in a chair, a tune on an iPod, a lot of card playing – and access for beat writers before batting practice begins.

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