The View from Pluto

Sports are a huge part of life in Northeast Ohio:  the good, the bad and the ugly.  There's the Browns, Cavs and Indians, not to mention a wealth of college action.  Every Wednesday morning, sports writer Terry Pluto from the Cleveland Plain Dealer stops by talk about it all with Amanda Rabinowitz.

Keith Allison / Flickr

The Indians started the second half of the season with an uphill battle to try to win the American League Central Division. They gained ground on the first-place Twins, and knocked six games off Minnesota's lead in the weeks leading into the break. As of Wednesday, the Indians trailed by five games. The two teams will meet 10 more times this season.

WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto lists three key players that the Indians need to play well to be able to catch the Twins.

Former Major League Baseball pitcher and author Jim Bouton died last week at age 80. Bouton is most known for his controversial 1970 tell-all book, "Ball Four." It exposed what really happened in the locker room, from players getting drunk to popping amphetamines like candy. It became a best-seller.

a photo of Carlos Santana
KEITH ALLISON / FLICKR

For some Major League Baseball players making the All-Star Game roster is a regular affair.

But for others it’s one and done.

Sports commentator Terry Pluto talks about the fickle nature of making an All-Star team, and how some Indians players have been waiting years to step into the spotlight.

Amanda Rabinowitz

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played in Cleveland for the fifth time in history. The game that brings together the league's biggest stars has evolved from one night under the lights into a five-day festival. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto said it's a chance for Cleveland show off its rich baseball past, present and future. 

Cavs.com

WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says he gives the Cavs’ 2019 draft performance a B+. The June draft was significant for the team that's in a rebuilding stage and has a new head coach in John Beilein. 

Darius Garland
With the No. 5 overall pick, they selected Darius Garland of Vanderbilt University.

This month’s cover of Sports Illustrated features Cleveland native Rich Paul with the caption “The King Maker.” Paul has been LeBron James’ longtime agent and has become the elite contract negotiator for the NBA’s biggest stars.

WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto said it all began in 2002, when Paul was selling jerseys out of his car, and he met a 17-year-old James at the Akron-Canton airport.   

Cal sports

Update: The Cavs selected Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland with the 5th pick in Thursday night's NBA draft. Garland’s freshman season ended with a knee injury last November. The team then selected Belmont swingman Dylan Windler at No. 26. They then made some moves to get USC guard Kevin Porter Jr. The Cavs' young team now includes two new 19-year-olds and a 22-year-old.

The team has assembled a new coaching staff in the offseason that has no pro experience but an eye for young talent. They followed the hiring of Michigan’s John Beilein as head coach by bringing in University of California women’s coach Lindsay Gottlieb as an assistant. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says it was a very unconventional move. 

a photo of Indians prospect Daniel Espino
MLB.COM/TWITTER

Major League Baseball is relatively low-key when it comes to selecting its next superstars. The draft that happens each June gets little attention compared to the fanfare of the NFL and NBA. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says the Indians had a top-25 pick last week, but hardly anyone noticed. 

A photo of Wooster baseball coach Tim Pettorini
/ THE COLLEGE OF WOOSTER

The baseball coach at The College of Wooster is retiring after nearly 40 years. Tim Pettorini leaves as the fifth-winningest coach in Division III history, guiding his teams to the NCAA tournament more than two dozen times. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says Pettorini’s legacy is remarkable.

clevelandbrowns.com

Northeast Ohio will be the center of the pro sports world over the next several years. This July, Progressive Field hosts the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. In 2021, the city has been awarded as the site of the NFL Draft. In 2022, Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse will host the NBA All-Star Game.

Cavs.com

The Cavs officially introduced John Beilein from the University of Michigan as their coach on Tuesday. His main goal will be to help develop this young team following next month’s draft. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says all of the teams competing for an NBA title this year have done it by developing players. And that must be the Cavs new model, too.

A photo of John Beilein
ADAM GLANZMAN / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The Cavs are getting lots of praise for hiring the University of Michigan’s John Beilein as their new head coach. The 66-year-old has spent the last 12 years with Michigan, leading the Wolverines to the NCAA Final Four twice.

a screen capture of highlight video of Sione Takitaki
YOUTUBE

The Browns draft picks this year didn’t generate the same buzz they did last year when Cleveland used its number one pick to get quarterback Baker Mayfield. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to talk about in this year’s group. It just takes a little more digging to get the details. And who better to do the digging than our sports commentator, Terry Pluto.

A photo of quarterback Baker Mayfield and Cleveland Browns
ERIK DROST / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

When the NFL draft begins Thursday it will be different for the Cleveland Browns. Typically, the draft is full of both excitement and anxiety for Browns fans used to losing seasons and a carousel of quarterbacks, coaches and general managers. 

But this year, WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto thinks the Browns look more like a team headed for the playoffs than the bottom of the league. That means a lot of pressure is off the team come draft day.

Just about anywhere in the country at any time, you can find sports talk radio on the dial. It’s a format that has deep roots in Cleveland. One of its pioneers, Les Levine, is getting a lifetime achievement award from the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters this weekend. Sports commentator Terry Pluto says sports radio has withstood the test of time.

A photo of basketball player Adonis
DAVID DERMER / KENT STATE ATHLETICS

The Final Four is this weekend, and a lot of people will be watching the court. But off the court, there's a scramble underway that could dramatically change how teams look next season. Last fall, the NCAA launched the Transfer Portal, a website that’s a one-stop shop for athletes who want to play for a new team, and for the coaches who want to recruit them. 

Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons

Indians fans will have to learn a lot of new names when the season opens Thursday. The team has overhauled its roster, as 13 players from last year’s team are gone, either through free agency or trades. The Tribe will also start the season without two key infielders. Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis are recovering from calf injuries.

Erik Drost/Flickr

As the Indians get close to wrapping up spring training, our sports commentator Terry Pluto caught up with team owner Paul Dolan to talk business. The team has steadily increased payroll from $49 million in 2011 to $135 million in 2018. Pluto says for 2019, the payroll will be around $120 million.

"Dolan says for the last several years they've been deficit spending. And if you look at how the Indians spent compared to Kansas City, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, or other teams in their market size, they outspent them."

Indians stadium in Goodyear, Arizona
TERRY PLUTO / WKSU

There are a lot of unanswered questions about the Indians lineup with just over a week until opening day.  WKSU commentator Terry Pluto has been scouting the team from Goodyear, Arizona this week and says there are big holes in the outfield.

Out with the old, in the with the new
The first observation Pluto makes is that there are not a whole lot of returning players this year. 

"I walked in the locker room, and all of the sudden, there's all these new guys and there's all these ... young guys," Pluto says. 

Football is the image of extracurriculars in Ohio
ELVERT BARNES

An analysis of Ohio’s major public universities shows that the schools have been increasingly spending more to subsidize athletic programs, with a total of $186 million last year for ten schools, excluding Ohio State.  WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia spoke with Rich Exner, data analysis editor at Cleveland.com, about the trends he’s seeing in the numbers on athletic spending.

UB Athletics

This week, Kent State, The University of Akron and 10 other college basketball teams are competing in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament. The winner gets an automatic bid to March Madness. It's been 20 years since the NCAA awarded an invitation to another MAC team, called an at-large bid. But WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says that could change this year with Buffalo. 

photo of LeBron James
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

After eight straight trips to the NBA Finals, including four with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James and his new team the Los Angeles Lakers are likely to miss the playoffs entirely. WKSU’s sports commentator Terry Pluto thinks after being sidelined with an injury for part of the year, LeBron and the Lakers have looked like a complete disaster.

Keenan Hairston / Wikimedia Commons

The debate over whether college athletes should be paid was revived the moment Duke basketball star Zion Williamson’s shoe exploded last weekend. The likely No. 1 draft pick hurt his knee in the big matchup against North Carolina. A lot of people are wondering why Williamson is even playing college basketball, and whether he deserves to be compensated.

photo of the Q
BANDON DAVIS

WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says it's a good time to be an NBA owner. Forbes reports the average team is worth $1.9 billion, up 13% over last year and three times the level of five years ago. 

The Cavs, however, were the only team to lose value over the last year, down about $50 million to $1.2 billion. The New York Knicks top the league at $4 billion.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The late Frank Robinson left a legacy in Cleveland as the first African American manager in Major League Baseball. But Robinson’s brief time with the Indians in the mid-1970s was tumultuous.

WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto got to know the Hall of Famer well over the years. 

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