The 1982 Cleveland Indians were the sixth-best team in a surprisingly solid American League East. They had some good players and a few who would become great elsewhere, but injuries decimated the club, and they eventually finished 78-84. Cleveland was fresh off the false hopes of the previous few seasons, when Super Joe Charbonneau won the Rookie Of The Year in 1980 and Len Barker pitched a perfect game the next season.
The highlight video for the '82 Indians, which is available in its entirety on YouTube and clocks in at a hairsbreadth under one half-hour, is an interesting artifact of the zeitgeist. Let's then take a look back when Major League Baseball Productions knew how to sell up and play down a mediocre team's highs and lows, and set some of it to Christopher Cross.
0:12 - The old Convention Center has a contemporary welcome sign, whose rudimentary digital message claims Cleveland is "on the north coast of America". It's like saying Cincinnati is on the south coast of Ohio, or that the 1982 Indians are on the cusp of greatness.
0:13-1:08 - "WATCH OUT YOU'RE IN INDIAN COUNTRY, INDIAN FEVER IS SPREADING AROUND..." The session vocalists hired to make you believe in "Indian Fever" would probably give you that same energy for any product they'd sell. "WATCH OUT YOU'RE IN SUB-PRIME MORTGAGE COUNTRY, LOW INTEREST RATES FEVER IS SPREADING AROUND..." The Native American stereotypes here are subtle, but not subtle enough.
2:06 - At the end of a spring training montage, we see Bob Feller and former Indians general manager Gabe Paul in Tucson being presented with a bottle of champagne. This accidentally foreshadows just how long a season this will be, and just how much Major League Baseball Productions will depend on the Indians' past glories to prop up this film.
2:30 - It can't be a salute to Cleveland's Municipal Stadium without a trip down memory lane-- to Boston. During the Indians' championship season, they had to win a playoff game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and clinched the World Series exactly a week later at Braves Field. Not shown: the burial of the 1948 pennant a year later, after the Indians were eliminated from the playoffs.
4:45 - Almost five minutes in and we're still in the Ford Administration. At least Frank Robinson's first game as Cleveland's manager, where he also hit the game-winning homer, was at Municipal Stadium. Unless you count Ten-Cent Beer Night, this was the only highlight for the Indians during the 1970's.
5:10-6:25 - We finally get close to the actual 1982 Cleveland Indians season, with Len Barker's perfect game and the All-Star Game, both occurring at Municipal Stadium in 1981. The Baseball Bug, a short lived, sad-looking attempt at copying the San Diego Chicken and the Phillie Phanatic's success, is briefly shown.
6:26-7:26 - More rehashing of the Indians' past, this time with all the team's great pitchers. Mike Garcia, an underrated starter in the 1950's, gets mentioned once and is shown at least twice in this film; Dave Garcia, who managed the Indians in 1982, is not mentioned at all, and is shown once or twice.
7:30 - We are finally in 1982. We know this because Len Barker and Rick Sutcliffe are pitching to the Human League's "Don't You Want Me". Narrator Nev Chandler picks out a five-week period where Lary Sorensen went 5-2; while Chandler admits Lary's season was "injury plagued", he conveniently leaves out Sorensen's complete 1982 record of 10-15, but at least he pitched the first shutout at the Metrodome.
9:33 - Yet another trip down Memory Lane, with Al Rosen and Lou Boudreau hitting dingers in the mid-1950's. One more trip and I get a free soda.
10:00 - Hurrah for Toby Harrah, who once and for all gets us back to the 1980's. Toby hit for power rather than average in '82, yet still managed to hit .302 to go with his 25 HRs. His aggressiveness might also explain why he had 12 HBPs as well.
11:00 - Designated Hitter Andre Thornton kicked some ass in 1982, coming back from several injury prone seasons and the 1977 car accident which claimed the lives of his wife and daughter. Thunder hit 32 homers and was the only Indian to see action during the All-Star Game in Montreal. For all that, at 11:30, his name appears as "Andre Thorton".
13:04-13:52 - A 48-second super-cut of Mike Hargrove adjusting himself. The future Indians manager was known as "The Human Rain Delay" for how much time he spent getting ready at the batter's box. The footage is from several different games, showing the full array of the team's uniform designs, and the audio is fairly seamless.
13:54 - For all that preceded this, Mike Hargrove hits a double. Hargrove hit 26 doubles in 1982, and only 4 home runs. #PitchersPark
15:10 - For all the good The Internet has brought to society, no one on it seems to know what in the world this post-Baseball Bug, pre-Slider mascot was. It's a bird, it's plainly racist, it apparently lasted just the one season. The damned thing does aerobics at around 15:28, which I can only assume was its war dance.
16:00-17:53 - Almost two whole minutes of base stealing, to Christopher Cross' "Ride Like The Wind". What little mention of Von Hayes we get in this video appears here, and his lanky physique can be seen stealing bases along with Alan Bannister, Miguel Dilone and others.
17:55-19:40 - From May 23 to June 4, the Indians won 11 straight games. They would lose six out of the next seven games after that, but at least this bright spot gets a catchy pseudo-Elmer Bernstein instrumental to accompany it.
19:42 - Oh, I get it. The Indians are "smoking" because you wanted to use that animation of your mascot doing smoke signals, and "NOW WE'RE COMMUNICATING" just didn't seem as funny.
19:46-20:55 - Considering the Alan Parsons Project catalog as a whole, people tend to seriously underrate "Mammagamma".
19:47 - We finally get some footage of ace Bert Blyleven, and it's of him leaving the mound on May 1, his season over before it really began.
20:12 - Rick Waits had the opposite problem. Knee tendinitis alone can't explain his 2-13 mark in 1982, though a 5.40 ERA might.
20:57-21:53 - We're introduced to the various rookies who made something scarcely resembling an impact, including Neal Heaton, Carmen Castillo, and you get the picture.
21:12 - Hey, Kevin Rhomberg! They're showing your only major league home run!!!
21:54 - The lack of SportsTime Ohio bugs on this broadcast is refreshing, but it's kind of jarring how they split the rookie segment and the new acquisitions segment with a commercial while the same music is playing. I will take my business elsewhere, Serpentini Chevrolet.
22:25 - Watch out you're in Buckeye Country. I hope they re-air the 1978 Gator Bowl.
22:30 - Save for one very notable exception, the players who left the Indians after 1982 had more success outside of Municipal Stadium than those coming in. In exchange for Juan Eichelberger and Broderick Perkins, the Indians dealt Ed Whitson to the Padres, where he would go 14-8 during San Diego's 1984 playoff run. John Denny, who went 6-11 for Cleveland before being dealt in September 1982, won 19 games, the Cy Young Award and the National League pennant for the 1983 Phillies.
23:51 - The best addition to the 1983 Indians by far was Julio Franco, although as a Phillies fan I tend to think the Five-For-One trade which sent Franco, Manny Trillo, George Vukovich, Jay Baller and Jerry Willard to Cleveland for Von Hayes was more even than one likes to admit. It is nice to see Franco throw a couple of line drives towards Pete Rose, though just as frustrating that Philly once had both Julio Franco and Ryne Sandberg, and went with Ivan DeJesus at shortstop.
24:06 - Indians GM Phil Seghi introduces new manager Mike Ferraro, who only lasts 100 games before Seghi basically says "screw it" and hires the recently fired Phillies manager, Pat Corrales.
24:24 - Poor Mike, fired before he had the chance to wear that burnt orange suit again.
24:53 - Not only did Andre Thornton win the 1982 AL Comeback Player Of The Year award, someone finally spelled his name right on this video.
25:18-26:13 - We get to the end, which according to Nev Chandler and the music of Chicago, is only the beginning. In reality, 1983 was the start of a decade-long plummet which only saw one winning season and would not be reversed until The Human Rain Delay himself, Mike Hargrove, became manager.
26:26-27:49 - This video closes out with bonus coverage of Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Among the Mets playing in this series is the immortal Julio Franco, who as we speak is still eyeing a return to Major League Baseball at the age of 55.